Fairphone launches a 3rd smartphone in 3 years: is it really green?

Fairphone, the Dutch company which markets “fair” smartphones, has just released its Fairphone 4. This new model arrives just one year after the release of the previous one. A high production rate for a smartphone manufacturer which has yet given itself the mission of changing the industry. What are the reasons for this pace? We spoke to the company.

Can we work for a fairer electronic world and release three phones in three years? This is the delicate question that the manufacturer Fairphone must have asked before launching its brand new phone: the Fairphone 4.

A 5G compatible Fairphone

Officialized this Thursday 30 September 30, 2021, the Fairphone 4 is the very last smartphone ” socially responsible »Marketed by the Dutch company. The mobile has 5G connectivity, a 6.3-inch Full HD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor, two photo sensors and a fingerprint reader on the power button. Also, the phone runs Android 11.

But as is often the case with Fairphone, it’s less the specs that matters than how the phone was built. ” The first question we asked ourselves was: ‘how to make a phone that will last at least 5 years? ”’ »Explains Eva Gouwens, CEO of Fairphone, to Numerama. ” From there, we started from scratch in an attempt to build a more repairable and responsible phone possible.

The front of the Fairphone 4 // Source: photo Numerama

The Fairphone 4 is the result of this reflection. It comes with a 5 year warranty and the promise of at least that many years of security update. A fact, alas, too rare in the world of Android mobiles. The brand new “responsible” mobile also retains the ease of repair that made the success of its predecessor, while pushing ecological logic a little further. The Dutch company now manages to source, “ responsibly », 14 materials necessary for the construction of the telephone (including gold). Progress compared to the Fairphone 3, which only included 8 materials with established traceability, but whose scope is still to be put into perspective: ” More than 50 materials are used in the construction of a telephone », Concedes the CEO of the company.

Why a Fairphone 4?

Why then release a new phone when the situation has hardly improved? Especially when the Fairphone 3 and 3+ were released in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

For Fairphone, the answer to this question is twofold. This new mobile is both a way of stay relevant in the market (hence the addition of 5G), and a lever to move the industry. ” If we want to continue to weigh in the industry, we need to know how it works, what is the roadmap », Explains Eva Gouwens. ” This allows us to go see the players in the production chain and set up more responsible methods. The stated aim of the company is to create a more ethical production line, which other manufacturers could use. ” We want to prove that it is possible to make more responsible choices and to be commercially successful », Concludes the CEO.

To put it more simply, it is difficult for a smartphone manufacturer to change the smartphone industry without… building smartphones. Faced with this dead end, Fairphone has therefore decided to build a new mobile which, if it keeps its promises, will at least prevent you from buying a phone for a few long years.

The complicated history of Fairphone

Unfortunately, Fairphone’s history is complicated from that point of view. The company has certainly recently deployed an update on its Fairphone 2 released in 2015, proof that software monitoring is taken seriously, but the manufacturer’s mobiles also have the unfortunate reputation of quickly becoming painful to use, due to bugs. and other instabilities.

Let’s remember that, according to the French Senate, the construction of terminals accounts for 40% of the digital global environmental footprint. The durability of a phone is therefore key to reducing its environmental footprint, and this goes a lot through software. To avoid disappointments, Wayne Huang, the product manager of Fairphone tells us ” work with a partner on OS development. The idea being to avoid reinforcing software monitoring, to avoid the problems that the Fairphone 2 may have known among others.

Fairphone is also a company above all, there is no doubt that the sale of this Fairphone 4 is also a way to put money in the coffers. More than ever, it will be necessary to believe the promises of Fairphone before embarking on the adventure.

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