Smartphone by Fairphone
UK

The World’s First Ethically Engaged Smartphone – €529.38

As you may have noticed from the lack of technology in our Desk section, the world of tech isn’t exactly very far along in the quest for ethical products, either from an environmental or social justice perspective. That’s why we’re pretty excited about Fairphone.

Fairphone sell their smartphones in batches by pre-order only, so you won’t be impulse buying this baby any time soon. They are slightly bulkier than your average smartphone, but still aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, with all of the unique functions you would expect from a smartphone, as well as function that allows you to use two SIM cards so that you can switch between using a work number and a personal number on the same phone. The screen resolution of the first model was criticised in industry reviews, which is something they have been working to improve in their second model, released Autumn 2015.

Fairphone is a social enterprise attempting to build a movement for fairer electronics. They are intent on opening up the supply chain and increasing the awareness people have about where their electronics come from, and where they go when they are no longer wanted. While far from perfect (they scored 15/20 for ethics from the Ethical Consumer Magazine), they are certainly one of the best and most innovative tech companies around.

We have awarded Fairphone our ‘Green’ and ‘Fairly Traded’ badges, despite the fact that there’s still much room for improvement in these areas. This is a huge exception to our general rule, which we’re only willing to make because of the general lack of anything that comes remotely near environmentally and socially responsible technology in the industry as it currently stands. We believe in Fairphone’s dedication to working out a solution to what is an incredibly complex question: how do you make truly ethical technology?

Category:

Fairly Traded

Fairly traded-(large)While it can’t be guaranteed that every element of the Fairphone has been fairly traded, it contains conflict-free tin and tantalum, which is a great start. They are dedicated to mapping their entire supply chain as far as is humanely possible, which means that they are constantly engaged with improving their practices. They are currently working on identifying ways to source conflict-free fairly mined gold particularly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and tungsten from Rwanda. They choose to focus on areas struggling with corruption and conflict so as to promote ethical mining and working practices and economic recovery and positive development in these war-torn areas.

Mapping where their suppliers are is an important first step in overhauling the industry, and is not something that we’re aware anyone else on the market is even doing yet.

In terms of where their phones are manufactured, Fairphone choose their production partners based on their willingness to work on social and environmental performance, as well as adhering to their technological requirements, of course. They seek partners who are willing to innovate and invest in worker welfare, and who are committed to transparency. China is one of the most important countries for consumer electronics production, and this is where Fairphones are made. With any production partners they engage with directly, they assess conditions at the factory themselves and identify areas they think need improvement.

Green

Environmentally-Friendly-(large)While Fairphones, like all technology, use minerals and components that are mined and produced in highly polluting situations, we believe that they are actively engaged with research into how to solve this problem.

Meanwhile, their phones are designed to last, which is a truly revolutionary step in an industry where planned obsolescence is the norm. Their pre-order system means that every phone has a home and is wanted, reducing waste and encouraging thoughtful consumption.

They offer online tutorials for repairing Fairphones to extend their usable lifespans, and sell individual spare parts to increase the overall longevity of your phone. They also support responsible recycling, partnering with organisations in Ghana to set up projects that improve local waste collection efforts and transport discarded phones to Europe for safe recycling. Their Take Back Program helps make sure all of their customer’s old phones are reused or properly recycled.