Fairphone Modular Phones: Sustainable Electronics

Fairphone modular phones offer a new approach to the culture of replaceable electronics. Instead of designing a phone only to be used for 24 months, the Fairphone approach to modular electronics looks to ensure every element can be upgraded individually, allowing you to upgrade without needing a new phone.

Electronics company Fairphone specialise in building modular electronics. The Fairphone modular phones aim to allow people to upgrade and improve a single phone without needing to constantly buy a new product.

Instead of purchasing a brand new phone every couple of years, the Fairphone will enable customers to upgrade individual parts of the device, such as the camera, which not only saves money but environmental waste too. 

The sustainability-focused phone manufacturer also recently announced that they are rolling out a new model, called the Fairphone 3+, along with two new camera modules. Both of which are compatible with their current Fairphone 3 model.

Fairphone Modular Phones: Sustainable Smartphones

Fairphone has just revealed their new Fairphone 3+, touting even more significant environmental benefits than its previous smartphone models. The upgraded Fairphone 3+ boasts:

  • 40% recycled plastic inside and within its internal modules. 
  • Excellent cameras, which are optimised for performance, delivering superior image quality. 
  • A 5.65-inch Full HD+ display.
  • Sturdy, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5 screen.
  • Full-day battery life with 3,040mAh capacity and fully replaceable.
  • An iFixit score of 10 out of 10; the only smartphone in the world to be awarded a perfect score for repairable design.
Fairphone Modular Phones Sustainability Benefits
Fairphone Modular Phones. Source:

One of the most significant differences between the Fairphone 3 and 3+ models is the inclusion of 40% recycled plastics in the material of the phone. This is up from 9% in the previous model, providing a greatly improved sustainability performance.

The modularity of the design means that customers can easily swap parts, ensuring that they’re likely to keep their Fairphones for longer too. This helps to reduce the amount of e-waste.

If you want to purchase a Fairphone 3+ on its own, it’ll cost you €469, but, if you already own the Fairphone 3, you can purchase just the parts that have been upgraded beyond what was offered with your phone when it was released.

Why is durable design better for the environment?

Consumer electronics are often seen as semi-disposable objects, to be discarded as soon as a better version is released. Fairphone is looking to reverse this behaviour, and provide a way of doing things differently within the industry.

They are battling against a market trend where the average phone is replaced every 24 months, creating a substantial environmental impact. As technology advances rapidly, consumers are losing the ability to repair, and truly understand how they can keep their devices longer. That’s why Fairphone’s core value of longevity is designed directly into their smartphone products.

Who are Fairphone Modular Phones?

Founded in 2013, Fairphone launched a movement for fairer and more sustainable modular electronics. Fairphone is aiming to make a positive impact across mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle whilst also expanding the market for electronic products that put ethical values first.

“We believe that we must make the most of the materials used in consumer electronics. We’re moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of our phones, plus making it easier for users to keep their devices for longer. By showing that it is commercially viable to care for people and the planet, we want to motivate the electronics industry to act more responsibly.”

Eva Gouwens, CEO, Fairphone

Fairphone Modular Phones: Making a Positive Impact

Fairphone is changing the industry from the inside with modular electronics, and they believe that caring for the environment and people should be an essential part of doing business throughout the industry. Fairphone is working towards sustainable materials and more responsible practices, disrupting the short-term way of thinking that the world can no longer afford.

Fairphone Modular Phones USP
Fairphone Modular Phones Unique Selling Points. Source:

Creating products that last

Fairphone designs all their phones for longevity, easy repair, and modular upgrades. Their goal is making the physical phone last longer while providing the support to keep its software up to date. The longer people can keep their phones, the smaller the environmental footprint.

Reducing e-waste

Fairphone makes the most of the materials used in consumer electronics. They’re looking to move closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of their phones and therefore reducing electronic waste, whilst also investing in electronics recycling options.

Fairphone also offers a takeback initiative for all their older models, where customers can post either the Fairphone 1 or 2 back to the company so that the parts can be reused or recycled. 

Choosing fairer materials

Materials used to create the average smartphone initially enter the supply chain from the mining sector, which is a challenging industry in terms of sustainability. Hazardous working conditions, child labour and pollution are all mining-related practices that desperately require improvement.

In contrast, Fairphone is making a positive change in their materials supply chains by sourcing more responsibly mined materials, increasing the use of recycled materials, and actively seeking partners who can help them achieve these goals. They state that one material at a time, they’re working to increase industry and consumer awareness and incorporate better resources into their modular phones.

Putting people first

Most smartphones are manufactured in China, but the country’s fast, affordable production comes at the cost of workers. Fairphone wants to improve the working conditions in the electronics sector, including health and safety, worker representation and working hours.

Fairphone is going beyond the traditional compliance model to make a lasting impact. They work alongside a variety of production partners, labour rights experts and NGOs to develop innovative programs that improve worker satisfaction and representation, and to open the lines of communication between workers and management.

They’re also an active member of the Clean Electronics Production Network (CEPN), an initiative looking to move the electronics industry towards zero exposure of workers to toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process.

Is product modularity the future?

Product modularity should be a primary focus to ensure product sustainability in the future.

Fairphone are leading the charge in modular electronics, especially in the mobile phone industry. It’s not just however electronic products where modularity can apply. Clothing, luggage, and eyewear are all clear opportunities for products to be created with replacement parts in mind.

To protect the environment, brands should start to consider how they can increase the lifespan of every product and utilise modular components wherever possible.

Are you interested in purchasing a Fairphone modular phone? European customers can pre-order Fairphone’s 3+ on their website, and orders are set to ship from September 14th.

Further Reading: AIAIAI Modular Headphones: Sustainable Product Design. Read More

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