Dutch-based Fairphone has big dreams to produce ethically sourced, long-lasting smartphones for environmentally conscious consumers. They have succeeded somewhat by selling all 60 thousand units of the first-generation Fairphone.
Now they’re preparing to launch a second model.
This time, with a little more experience under its belt, the company hopes to increase its transparency and use of conflict-free materials by designing the device in-house.
This affords Fairphone more control over which manufacturer the company chooses to build the device –which also gives Fairphone more input over where it gets the supplies and components. The company was only able to confirm conflict-free mines were used for two of the minerals for the first-generation model.
The first Fairphone had a Mediatek quad-core chipset. The new device will be outfitted with a Qualcomm chip and it will also support 4G LTE.
In a blog post, the company has acknowledged that choosing MediaTek for the original Fairphone was a mistake, since the chip maker wouldn’t release Android source code, and left customers stuck with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and no easy way to upgrade to newer versions of the software.
This was a sore spot for many early adopters of the Fairphone, who complained that lack of upgrade support made the phone less sustainable for years to come.
A Fairphone spokesperson told The Next Web that software is high on the company’s list of priorities and the Qualcomm system-on-chip (SoC) will give users more control over the operating system. “That allows us to release Android together with a development environment, so people can rebuild the image and modify it.”
When it launched in 2014, the Fairphone received tepid reviews. The Guardian considered it to be a mid-range smartphone that lacked certain important specs, like a good camera and 4G LTE support. Wired said the device was “so-so” and noted that the lack of decent specs at that price makes a person have to choose between a good quality phone and an ethically sourced one.
The second-generation Fairphone is on schedule to launch in the summer of 2015. The company is planning to manufacture 200,000 devices by the end of 2016.
The new phone will only be available in Europe at launch, but the company hopes to extend its reach to other countries over the next two years.
There is no official information on the price, but the first-generation Fairphone cost €310 (about $340). It is likely that, with the new design, the second-generation model will cost a bit more.
If you are interested in the Fairphone, you can sign up on the email list, which will help the company better judge the manufacturing schedule for the upcoming device.