If you’ve got a modern smartphone with a broken camera, battery, or display, odds are that you’ll need to send it to the manufacturer or a repair shop to fix what’s broken. Or you can try to do it yourself using replacement parts ordered over the internet and instructions found at sites like iFixit.

But there’s at least one new phone that’s designed to be repairable. The Fairphone 2 is a phone with ethically-sourced components and a modular design that lets you replace broken components just by sliding in a new module. You might not even need a screwdriver.

The folks at iFixit have posted a teardown guide for the Fairphone 2, and it really does seem to deliver on the promise of an easy-to-fix phone.

fairphone ifixit_02

You don’t need a screwdriver to open the case, remove the battery, or even to pop off the display. Want to swap out batteries on the go? You can do that. Want to replace a cracked screen yourself? You should be able to buy a replacement module from Fairphone and do that easily.

There are a few more modules which will require a screwdriver to access. But they’re relatively easy to remove and replace, so if your speaker or camera needs to be replaced, it should be easy to do that.

The iFixit team also dissected some of the modules themselves and found that they’re basically made of off-the-shelf components stuffed into shells that attach to the motherboard. So theoretically ambitious DIY types might even be able to repair individual modules.

While it’s too soon to say whether Fairphone will ever offer upgrade modules for users that want faster processors, better cameras, or improved screens, it’s nice to know that the Fairphone 2 is at least an easy-to-fix device. In fact, iFixit gave it a repairability score 10 out of 10, which is the highest score iFixit has ever given a phone.

The phone is expected to begin shipping in December to customers who have already placed pre-orders. If you want to order one now, it should ship in January. The Fairphone 2 is priced at €529, which is a little more than $560 US at the current exchange rate.

The phone features a 5 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and Android 5.1 software. While it’s a bit pricey for a phone with those specs in 2015, ethically-sourced materials and a custom modular design don’t come cheap.

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9 replies on “Fairphone 2 teardown by iFixit shows a phone meant to be… torn down”

  1. Wow this is an amazing proof of concept that it is possible to build a phone that is easily disassembled.

    The high cost might have more to do with economy of scale than anything else. If everyone built phones this way that could change. But big companies tend toward cost-cutting measures to compete with each other in quarterly earnings rather than build a superior product for the end user.

  2. For that price you can’t compete with Nexus 6P. Will wait for a better priced phone that can be swap.

  3. Smaller projects like this that produce smaller numbers of devices to start unavoidably have higher costs. It’s the way they can survive long enough to get to mass production and lower proices. I wouldn’t call it “unethical.”

  4. Interesting. While it does have an SoC just like any other phone, having it modular means this: hey! I have a new component that you can buy to put in your phone. Higher res, more memory, faster processor, better camera? Easy, and you don’t need to buy the whole phone anymore.

  5. $560 US ..sounds more “unethical” to me..this is DOA…big time…id rather have an Unethical iPhone

    1. Revenue per Fairphone will be approx. €9. Maybe you will understand now, why it costs that much.

    2. Good job. Those chinese slaves will be happy for your purchase, I’m sure 🙂

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