My Fairphone: One Step Toward Sustainability At a Time

In Environmental Sustainability, Social Justice by Felix Munger, PhDLeave a Comment

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Have you ever heard of the Fairphone? I hadn’t until a couple of years ago, when I was visiting the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum Germany to assist them to become a sustainable university.

There I met Raymond Willems, a mechatronics student who was raving about a new phone called Fairphone.

Now, anything with the word Fair gets my attention (mostly positive).[1] Hence, I did some research and realized that the Fairphone (www.fairphone.com) may be the perfect kind of communications tool for me. Here is why: the developers of the phone include environmental, social, and technological considerations in the design and production of the phone. You may wonder why this is important, after all, it’s just a phone – well, here is an example why: cell phones are “soaked in blood” according to an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot.

No wonder then that the developers of the Fairphone work very hard to purchase conflict-free minerals and produce the phones in safe factory conditions with fair wages, and they designed a phone that has longevity and reparability (it even comes with an app showing users how to repair it). Finally, they paid attention to the life cycle of the phone (use, reuse, and recycling). The phone is made for easy recycling of the different parts. For more information visit their website.

(Screenshot from www.fairphone.com)

Unfortunately, as of today, no Canadian (or US) company sells the Fairphone. Lucky for me, when I returned to the University of Bochum teenage family member (who actually had a Fairphone had moved from thinking that the Fairphone was cool to thinking it was lame (because it wasn’t the same as the phones her peers had).

So, we did a simple switch.

I am sure you wonder how the phone compares …

For the price point and for the added value of knowing my phone has been produced with care to be both environmentally and socially conscious, I, for one, think that the phone should be considered a serious competitor.

I’ve put together a table to compare a few components of the Fairphone 2 with the Iphone 7 and Galaxy S8.

  Fairphone 2 Iphone 7 Galaxy S8
Operating System Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” iOS 10.3.2 Android 7.0 “Nougat” with Samsung Experience
Display 5 in (130 mm) diagonal IPS LCD 1080×1920 px HD 446 ppi 4.7 in (120 mm) Retina HD: LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1334×750 px resolution (326 ppi) 5.8 in (150 mm), 225 ppcm (572 ppi) 2960×1440 1440p Super AMOLED
# of SIM card slots 2

(One for personal and one for work or sharing between people)

1 1
Storage 32GB

Expandable to 96GB for only the cost of a card

32GB

Expandable to 256GB

64GB

Expandable to 256GB

Price $ (CAD) $803.28 $899.00 (32GB)

$1029.00 (128GB)

$1,035.00

As you can see, there is a difference between those phones. But I never expected the phone to be as shiny or fast as some other phones. It’s hard to be a start up company and compete with multi-billon companies such as Apple or Samsung with regards to the development and specifications of a phone.

My Fairphone works great. I don’t really play games on the phone, so I cannot adequately comment on the processing speed or other important specifications. But for everyday work-related tasks such as calls, emails, podcasts, calendar, GPS, and browsing the internet it works great. It does everything I need it to do. Plus, it’s not (or much less) soaked in blood, I can easily repair it, and those producing it have high ethical standards for social and environmental responsibility, just like me.

Are you intrigued?

Why don’t you let me know by completing the poll below? If the results are favourable toward the Fairphone, I will take them directly to the folks over at Fairphone in order to speed up their expansion into North America.

If Fairphones were made available in Canada, do you think you would purchase one?

[1] Mostly positive but also sometimes negative (a perfect example is the Ethical Oil group advocating for Canada’s Oil Sands).

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MEET THE AUTHORS


  • Felix Munger, PhD

    Title: Managing Director and Principal Consultant
    Content Expertise: Collaboration, crime prevention, health equity, mental health and addictions, environmental sustainability

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