Fairphone is a company that wants to make smartphones you don’t feel guilty about buying: the company’s handsets are built using ethically-source materials from conflict-free regions and the company has invested in a worker-controlled welfare fund for Chinese workers and an e-waste recycling program in Ghana.
The company says it sold about 60,000 units of the original Fairphone which was produced in 2013. Now the Fairphone 2 is on the way. It has a bigger screen, a faster processor, and other improvements… and the phone features a modular design, making it easy to replace or repair components.
You can remove the back cover and replace it with a panel featuring a different color or design. Once the cover is off, you can also pop out the battery and replace it… which is unusual these days, but not unheard of.
But you can also remove the screen, camera, speaker, microphones, and even the phone’s USB port. You can replace the screen without even using a screwdriver, although you’ll need one to get at the camera, speakers, or the “receiver unit” which has the receiver, headset connector, front camera, and notification LED, and sensors.
There’s also an expansion port under the hood which makes it possible to add features such as NFC in the future.
The Fairphone 2 isn’t quite as versatile as another high-profile modular phone: Google’s Project Ara lets you replace pretty much any part of the phone, but there are a few items on the Fairphone 2 that cannot be replaced: it has a core unit with the CPU, memory, and antennas which needs to remain in place for the phone to work.
Still, the Fairphone 2 is designed to last a long time, since you won’t necessarily need to buy a whole new phone when one part stops working.
The phone has the kind of specs we would have expected from a flagship phone in 2014. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 5 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, an 8MP rear camera, and a 2420 mAh battery.
The Fairphone 2 features a microSD card slot, dual SIM card slots, and support for 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 4G LTE.
It should ship with Android 5.1 Lollipop software, and the phone will go up for pre-order this summer. Just don’t expect it to be cheap: the Fairphone 2 is expected to sell for about 525 Euros ($590 US).