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Fairphone created the world's first ethical, modular smartphone

fairphone modular design

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Fairphone - Fabian Hühne

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Fairphone adopts a different approach to smartphone manufacturing: the company aims to create positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone's life cycle. In addition to using fair materials and providing good working conditions, this includes:

Long-lasting design

Consumer electronics are often viewed as semi-disposable objects, to be upgraded or discarded as soon as something better comes along. Fairphone is fighting against a market trend where the average phone is replaced every 18 months, creating a huge environmental impact. As technology advances rapidly, consumers are losing the ability to modify, repair, and truly understand how they can keep their devices longer.

Reuse and recycling

Every year, millions of phones are thrown away. Modern mobile phones aren’t built to last and consumers are constantly being encouraged to upgrade to newer models. While some of these discarded phones are properly recycled, others are recycled under dangerous working conditions or end up in landfills.

Fairphone sell spare parts and offer repair tutorials to help make your phone useful for as long as possible. The take back program supports the reuse and recycling of old phones, and Fairphone is also researching the best way to recycle its phones by making them easier to dismantle. The company is also working with partners to improve local collection efforts in countries struggling with electronic waste.


Fairphone has also begun developing innovative business models in partnership with Circle Economy, Sustainable Finance lab and a set of financial, legal and supply chain advisors. The Circular Phone report, released in 2018, provides practical answers to common financing pitfalls for circular businesses, using Fairphone as the real-life example.

Main results: 
  • Fairphone has designed and produced an innovative smartphone that is designed to be long-lasting, uses conflict-free tin and tungsten and has a transparent supply chain whose environmental footprint is minimal.
  • The modular design featured in Fairphone 3 represents a groundbreaking innovation towards the circular production of consumer electronics, with the phone receiving full marks for repairability
  • More than 175,000 Fairphones have been produced and sold since the original model's launch in 2013.  Nearly 100,000 waste phones have been shipped back from Ghana to date in order to extract and reuse the minerals within.