Fairphone 2: a new modular smartphone and a movement for fairer electronics


Fairphone 2Fairphone is a Dutch company founded to develop a smartphone which doesn’t contain conflict minerals (typically gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten) and using fair labor conditions for the workforce along all the supply chain.

This company wants to raise awareness about the issues surrounding mining and existing alternatives, in particular, improve working conditions for miners, introduce local wages, eliminate child labor and reduce environmental degradation caused by mining practices. Other goals are to establish collaborative, mutually beneficial, and transparent relationships with manufacturers to ensure worker representation, safe working conditions and fair pay.

Fairphone components

Fairphone components

Fairphone wants to create an open platform and extend the smartphone’s longevity and increasing repairability. The company, also, wants to minimize the social and environmental impact of producing the smartphone using as many recycled materials as possible.

Following these guidelines, Fairphone has already made a smartphone and now it has announced a new model. Thanks to the 60,000 people who purchased the first Fairphone and after a year and a half of work, the company has announced the Fairphone 2.

Fairphone 2 is an innovative smartphone in all its aspects. It hosts high quality components and functions, such as Android 5.1 Lollipop, a full-HD 5-inch display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB internal storage, an 8 megapixel rear camera, a Snapdragon 801 processor, dual SIM slots, a MicroSD slot, 4G LTE and a 2420 mAh removable lithium-ion battery.

Fairphone 2

Fairphone 2

One of the key objectives of the project is to extend the longevity of the smartphone. The designers wanted to eliminate the fragility of the modern smartphone and they therefore developed a replaceable outer shell, which acts as a protective case. It replaces the usual back cover or battery door, which then becomes redundant.

The interchangeable case enables the user to effectively get a complete refresh of their entire phone, without having to change the costly internal components, with the weight, height and width similar to other popular smartphones currently on the market. The Fairphone 2’s cover design enables to add features such as a rubber rim that wraps around the edge of the glass, protecting the display from the most common causes of screen damage.

Fairphone 2 case

Fairphone 2 case

This smartphone also introduces a new and innovative modular construction technology. Thanks to this architecture, anyone can do basic maintenance on his or her phone without external support.

The company has developed different types of modules.
The first is the transceiver (or Core unit), it includes the Snapdragon 801 SOC, memory and flash storage, modem and antennas, the SIMs and MicroSD card and motion sensors. There is also a display unit with the LCD screen and the receiver module, which includes the receiver, headset connector, front-facing camera, noise-cancelling microphone, ambient light and proximity sensor and the notification LED. Fairphone 2 hosts a rear camera module and a speaker unit, which includes also the vibration mechanism, main microphone and a USB connector.

The various modules may be replaced with other components with better features, for example, an IR camera instead of the normal rear-camera unit.

Fairphone 2

Fairphone 2

All the modules are standardized and easily replaceable without requiring any technical skills. For example the display can be replaced in less than a minute!
The Fairphone 2 has also an expansion port to add alternative back covers with integrated more functionality, for example an NFC payment technology.
In the next months the company will announce more information about the phone.

Fairphone 2 is expected to be released after summer 2015, shipping first only in Europe, for € 525.

The original article was posted on the Phonebloks Blog.