Dutch smartphone maker Fairphone makes devices that are designed to be long-lasting, easy-to-repair, and manufactured with ethically-sourced materials whenever possible. So two years ago, when the company launched a subscription service, it was a bit different than most plans that let you pay for a phone in installments.

Fairphone Easy subscribers were effectively leasing phones instead of buying them outright. Not only would the company send subscribers a phone, but the plan also included free repairs, allowing users to keep their phones for longer. And folks who are ready to upgrade or switch phones would return their existing phone to Fairphone, who could then refurbish or recycle it. But now Fairphone says it’s pausing that “phone-as-a-service subscription” model, at least temporarily (and possibly permanently).

Fairphone Easy launched as a pilot program with the Fairphone 4 in the Netherlands in the summer of 2022, but the company says that the program never really took off in a big way.

Customers were “five times more likely” to buy a Fairphone outright than to rent one, and some of those who did pay for a subscription canceled after the Fairphone 5 came out and the company wasn’t quick enough to add the phone to its subscription offerings, preventing users from taking advantage of an upgrade offer.

Another potential stumbling block? While Fairphone tried to sell this plan as a way of leasing phones rather than buying them in order to get free repairs and upgrades, the total cost of ownership could easily have exceeded the price of buying a phone outright and hanging onto it for a long time (assuming it doesn’t need any major repairs during that time).

The Fairphone 4 sold for €650 when the Fairphone Easy pilot program first launched, while subscription prices ran:

  • €90 deposit, paid up-front
  • €21 per month for the first 12 months
  • €19 per month for months 13 through 24
  • €17 per month for months 25 through 36
  • €13 per month for months 37 through 48

If you add that up, by the end of the fourth year, you’d have spend €930 and you’d still have to return the phone if you stopped paying.

Fairphone still seems to believe there’s value in the idea of offering smartphones-as-a-service though, because while the company says it’s discontinuing the plan for now, it’s also hinting that it could be revived in the future.

via Fairphone Blog

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  1. So Fairfone model includes disposal? Is same model as the SamSung MyungMoong?