Fairphone2-storypageTeleRead readers may have seen reports about the Fairphone, a new smartphone concept created to support “better ways of doing business that aim to inspire the entire industry.” From design through raw materials to manufacture, “from conflict-free minerals to fair factory wages, we’re making improvements one step at a time,” Fairphone claims. Does it live up to such hype?

The Fairphone itself is a pretty highly specced device that doesn’t have to lean on ethics for its appeal. The design concept offers a 5-inch Full HD display with Gorilla® Glass 3, Android​​™​ 5.1 ​Lollipop as the OS, 32 GB of internal storage​ plus a microSD slot​, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU. Anyone who wants an ethically sound phone for ereading will not have to compromise.

Fairphone puts a lot of effort into the ethical side of sourcing materials. “Every smartphone contains about 40 different minerals, including tantalum, tungsten, copper, iron, nickel, aluminum, tin, silver, chromium, gold and palladium,” the company blurb notes, and Fairphone aims to “integrate as many responsibly mined minerals into our supply chain, with a special focus on areas of high-risk of conflict.” The Fairphone is also designed to be long-lasting, and recyclable, and the company looks to social entrepreneurship to educate consumers about its origins and the whole story of environmentally-friendly manufacturing.

What’s missing from the Fairphone concept right now, as far as I can see at least, is the founders making connection between environmentally and socially beneficial manufacture, and environmentally and socially beneficial use. As I mentioned elsewhere, smartphones have been instanced as one of the best enablers of environmentally-friendly growth and development currently available. A company that supports such values at one end of the chain should surely support them at the other. I’ll be interested to see what moves Fairphone makes in that direction.


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