Is this the world's most sustainable phone? – Kempii

Is this the world's most sustainable phone?

‘Oh look, the new iPhone’s out – time to upgrade I guess.’

Sound familiar? It might be time to think again. E-waste is our fastest growing waste stream, with smartphones being thrown out every 20 months on average. But on the other hand, it’s not easy to find a sustainable phone where the battery can be replaced, or to save that phone that somehow slipped into the washing up.

You might wonder if there’s even such a thing as an ethical and sustainable phone – and so did the team at Fairphone, which is why they took on the challenge to change this.

This Amsterdam-based company wanted to build a modular phone with minimal harm to the planet and its people. They acknowledge that it can’t be 100% fair or recyclable, but they’re doing their best and also want to raise awareness on the way.

A phone doesn’t just appear; there are hundreds of people involved in its production and multiple stages and chains. Fairphone have looked, and continue to look, at all stages of the production cycle to combat not only electronic waste, but also conflict materials such as the cobalt that is mined in the Congo using child labour.


Child Labour In Congo

      Above: Cobalt mining in the Congo has often been associated with child labour (Photo credit: Julien Harneis)


At first glance it looks like your average smartphone. It’s an Android phone with 32G storage, 5 inch display and a range of colours. Because of the modular design (which essentially means lots of different components), it’s easy to repair so you can get out of that ‘drop and then replace’ cycle. If your fingers are delicate enough, you can easily repair it yourself. 

Fairphone- Sustainable phone

  Above: The modular design of the Fairphone make it much easier to repair (Photo credit: Tobias Isakeit)


The team at Fairphone have set up traceable supply chains to source conflict-free materials. Tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold are often conflict minerals, but not in this case. In case you do need to say goodbye to one of their phones, you can feel confident in the knowledge that Fairphone have invested in and researched recycling practices.

OK, we know you use your phone a lot so even if you’re loving all this you might have one more important question: is it actually a good phone? Breathe a sigh of relief, because it is. We’ll be honest, it’s not sleek and shiny; as a modular phone, it’s going to be a bit chunky.


  Above: The Fairphone 2 has all the functionality of a regular smartphone 


However, there’s lots of storage, dual SIM capability (perfect for spies!) and an intuitive interface to add to the ‘pros’. It’s reliable and it should last you 5 years – well over double the average life cycle of a phone. And if you drop it, this one isn’t going to break!

Of course, as appealing as this sustainable phone is, the best way to reduce wast is not to buy a new smartphone at all – but just keep this one in mind for next time!


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  • Hi there. I just wanted to share my experience with the Fairphone with this lovely community of people who care about sustainability and all what comes with it.
    I bought my Fairphone two years ago because I had to get rid of my HCT as the battery didn’t last more than 2 h without a recharge. I was a bit confused that with all the great technology out there I couldn’t just buy a new battery and keep my phone.I realised that phone manufacturers don’t want us to keep our phone for years and years so I decided to find a phone, which would let me do the same thing you do when you own a car:Exchange the parts that don’t work anymore and keep the main product. I mean seems logical, right?

    A friend of mine actually then told me about this little company, who shares my concerns not only when it comes to sustainability but fair labour and production.He had the first generation and I then bought the Fairphone II.

    So to be honest no it isn’t a IPhone or Samsung when it comes to it comes to graphics, camera etc. They still have some system problems which need fixing. But they are working on it. For example they created a new camera module(which I don’t have) which is supposed to be better. I did have to exchange my microphone module at one point. Otherwise I am quite happy with it. I also wanted to say that I don’t consider my phone as something that has to have the newest technology and best camera. I want a phone that will last and was produced in a humane and fair way. If you have more specific questions I am happy to answer them all.

    Meret on

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