Fairphone has been on a mission to make smartphones more sustainable via long-term support, modular, repairable, and upgradeable hardware, and the use of ethically-sourced materials when possible.

Now the company has brought that same ethos to the wireless audio space. As expected, the company has launched a new pair of Fairbuds XL headphones. These wireless, over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones are designed to offer the kind of experience you expect from premium headphones. But they’re also easy to disassemble, allowing you to quickly and easily replace parts that wear out over time.

Fairphone is selling the Fairbuds XL to customers in Europe for €249, and the company will begin offering spare parts soon as well, allowing you to extend the lifespan of the headphones.

It’s not unusual to find a pair of headphones with user-replaceable ear cushions or headband covers. But Fairphone doesn’t stop there. You can also replace the speakers, speaker covers, headband parts, speaker cable, and even the battery.

You don’t even need any tools to perform some basic repairs: you can swap out the battery using nothing but your fingers. And the only tool you’ll need for other repairs is a Phillips head screwdriver, which you can use to do things like disconnect the earcups from the headband.

Theoretically this sort of design also opens the possibility of upgrading components over time. Not only can you replace a dying battery or a worn out ear cushion, but maybe one day the company will offer better speakers, mics, or other hardware that you can swap into your existing case.

Fairphone notes that the headphones also incorporate recycled and fair trade materials including recycled aluminum, tin solder paste, plastics, and fair trade gold.

The company notes that by default the Fairbuds XL ship without a charger or USB cable, both of which are available for purchase separately. That’s not surprising from a company that’s marketing climate consciousness as a selling point, and odds are that you’ve probably got more USB-C chargers lying around than you know what to do with by now anyway.

In terms of specs, features, and performance, the Fairbuds XL measure 190 x 180 x 70mm and weigh 330 grams and have a foldable design that lets you save space while storing them. They’re rated IP54 for water and dust resistance, which means you’re not going to want to wear them in a swimming pool, but they should survive a little light rain.

The speakers feature 40mm dynamic drivers with 20 – 20 KHz frequency response and 32 ohm impedance, 6 microphones (2 on the left and 4 on the right), and support for active noise cancellation (ANC).

With Bluetooth 5.1 support, they should work with most modern mobile devices, but you can also use them as wired headphones with a USB-C cable or USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter.

The headphones have an 800 mAh battery that Fairphone says offers up to 26 hours of battery life for listening to music or making calls with ANC on or 30 hours with it turned off. You should also get up to 320 hours of standby time.

The Fairbuds XL do not support fast charging, as it takes about 3 hours to fully recharge the battery, which Fairphone says should maintain about 80 percent of its capacity after 500 charge cycles. But since the battery is user-replaceable, this could theoretically be the last pair of headphones you ever buy (assuming the company stays in business long enough to keep providing batteries and other spare parts in the years and decades to come… or you buy a lifetime supply of those parts now).

But since this is a new product category for Fairphone, the company is only promising to continue offering spare parts for around two years (the same length as the standard warranty). Once the company is able to collect more information about how often parts actually fail and need replacing, it might extend the length of guaranteed availability for spare parts.

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 16,183 other subscribers

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I find the specs really disappointing. Bluetooth 5.1 when 5.2 is available and can provide a much needed upgrade to mic sound quality. Also for the price I’d want some reviews regarding audio quality

  2. This is pretty tempting. I’ve owned two pairs of Sony noise cancelling headphones and the first pair died to a snapped headband. I couldn’t find spare parts so the whole very expensive device went in the bin. Now I treat the second pair as gently as possible but the headband is thinner so they’ll break one day.

    I think the Fairbuds XL can also act as a USB audio device which would be great, a pain point on the Sonys is I can’t charge and use them at the same time.

  3. I wish the frequency response want just 20hz-20khz. For premium headphones I expect better than a $5 pair of headphones from Walmart. And don’t give me any of that “people can only hear in the blah blah blah range” it makes a difference.