The Cell Phone: Built to Last

If you are a New Yorker, you may realize Mayor de Blasio posted many exciting progresses during this past Climate Week and the UN General Assembly on his Instagram account. As a part of his One City: Built to Last Plan, these progresses will help New York City to achieve the 80×50 target.


Source: Mayor Bill de Blasio

Three years ago, I realized a Dutch cell phone company called Fairphone through my friend’s social media account. Fairphone 1 was most innovative and sustainable cell phone at the end of 2013. So is the newest Fairphone 2 product.

It is not the fancy iPhone 7, but it is the phone will make you happy when you think about the story behind it. Why?

1. Long-Lasing. 

Fairphone products are designed to last – in both their original design and in designing their repair to be as easy as possible. The world’s first modular design makes it possible for customers to repair it by themselves through the User Manual, Forum or Tutorials. You don’t need to be an expert at soldering. Imagine if you find the camera does no longer capture pictures as vivid as the new one. You simply buy the new camera module for only €34.28. If you are unlucky to drop your phone, you can get a new screen (display module) and change it by yourself.


Source: Fairphone

2. Fair Materials.

Smartphones contain dozens of minerals sourced all over the world. Mining is probably one of the industries facing a wide variety of social and environmental challenges. First of all, Fairphone uses as much as recycled materials as possible. Secondly, Fairphone integrates the fairer tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold into their supply chain. They packed for the research trips to Africa to trace all the parts of their products to visit the mines. By knowing what happened to the sourcing partners, they can assess and reassure the true impact of their products.


Source: Fairphone

3. Good Working Conditions. 

Apple/Foxconn Scandal highlighted the exploitation of the foreign workers in the developing countries to make electronic products. Fairphone works with the selected suppliers in China. They give managers the skills to improve the employment practices and encourage the employee/manager communication. Unlike Apple or Samsung, Fairphone is a small player in this market. Nevertheless, they hope the empowered managers and workers can lead the better practice in the market.

4. Reuse and Recycling. 

E-waste is a worldwide growing toxic waste problem. Fairphone moves closer to a closed loop design by extended lifespan and repairability. They also support the take-back program and encourage people to donate their old phones (any brand) through the recycling program to reduce landfill and e-waste smuggling. They improve their product design by initiating Life Cycle Assessment.

Hey, this is the bonus! Donald Trump didn’t think the current NYC Mayor’s control of crime at the first presidential debate. But number talks!

I also encourage you to look at these numbers of the cost breakdown of the Fairphone. Fairphone strives to bridge the gap between consumers and their phones to make information more transparent.


Source: Fairphone

Sounds good? They offer individual and business solutions for customers. You can read more at their website. Their blog is a great resource to learn about the cell phone industry. Fairphone is a certified B Corp. B Corps are the for-profit companies meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Fairphone got a very high score of 104 which nearly doubles the median score of 55.

By the way, I am not affiliated with Fairphone. I just feel excited to see them starting from the conceptual idea, through funding stage, to the release of the second generation product. I also envy the people in Europe who can order this product and get it delivered in a week.


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