Billing itself as the world’s first “Ethical Smartphone”, the Fairphone is now available to UK consumers through the Phone Co-op. The customer-owned company is the first mobile phone vendor in Britain to stock the phone, which was launched earlier in the year via a crowd-funding campaign that raised the necessary capital.
The primary purpose of the phone, which is manufactured by a Dutch-based social enterprise, is to give consumers the option to purchase a smartphone that hasn’t been built using conflict minerals. Many of the key components of smartphones are made with materials such as gold, coltan, and tin. Guaranteeing that the trade of these items doesn’t contribute to human rights violations is often impossible due to the unstable nature of the governance of the countries where these materials are found and extracted.
The Fairphone’s makers say that the transparency of the supply chain and manufacture of the phone ensures that all the needed minerals are sourced from conflict-free mines and that workers at all parts of the process are paid a living wage. As well as this, the phone’s polycarbonate body is made from recycled materials, which also helps boost the phones environmental credentials.
As for usability, the phones offers an open-source Android operating system allowing customers to modify the phone to suit their own needs. The phone boasts a 4.3 inch Dragontrail glass screen and a quad-core 1.2 Ghz MediaTek CPU, which comfortably cements the phone as a solid entry-level smartphone alternative. With no Near-Field Connectivity (NFC) for mobile payments and no 4G on current models, the 16 GB phone does offer expandable storage of up to 64 GB, and a high-quality build, which its makers hope will temp people away from the major phone companies.
With front and rear cameras of 8 and 1.3 megapixels respectively, and an LED flash, it’s easy to see why the phone may well lure customers beyond simply those with ethical concerns. The phone is available to buy outright for £250 and on contract starting at £22 from The Phone Co-Op.