The guiding principle of Dutch company Fairphone is simple: fight back against wasteful consumer culture by offering an ethically sourced smartphone that tries to use as few conflict minerals as possible. With this pitch, the company managed to sell 60,000 first edition Fairphones — a small figure, sure, but the company still says they sold "quicker than anticipated." Now, it's unveiled the Fairphone 2, saying that this time the device will not only be ethically sourced but also easily repairable. Fairphone will sell spare parts for the phone itself, and says that users will be able to easily change the most commonly broken components, including the screen, camera, CPU, and speaker.
No pliers or glue guns needed — the screen just unclips
According to a report from The Next Web, the Fairphone 2 can be disassembled with ease. The rubberized back (which also doubles as a case) just slips off, while the screen itself can be detached using two clips. Internal components can then be removed and replaced with just a screwdriver — a far cry from the warranty-voiding specialized tools needed to repair smartphones from companies like Apple. By comparison, last year's Fairphone was also praised for being easy to take apart, although a teardown from iFixit noted that many smaller components were soldered in position and hard to replace. It's not clear if the Fairphone 2 will improve on that situation, but we'll need to see more details before we know how many more parts will be replaceable.
The major downside, of course, is that the Fairphone 2 doesn't offer the best specs on the market — but it's certainly a capable device on paper. Buyers get a 5-inch HD display, 4G connectivity, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, and 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. The company says preorders for the device will start in this summer for €525 ($590), although it notes that "for the duration of 2015, the phones will only be available in Europe."
So yes, Fairphone's latest device isn't going to beat the Galaxy S6 in a speed test, but who needs speed when you're driving on the smartphone high road? Like its predecessor, the Fairphone 2 will use conflict-free sources of tin and tantalum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A portion of each phone's selling price goes toward a Welfare Fund for workers, and Fairphone is also sponsoring an e-waste recycling program in Ghana. The company admits that not every material used in the Fairphone 2 is conflict-free, but the more phones it can sell, the more influence it can exert over its supply chains. If you're interested in preordering the Fairphone 2, then you can sign up here, or find out more about the project here.