- Ethically sourced materials
- High-scoring ethical company
- Fully modular + easy to repair
- Slow camera
- Expensive considering the specs
- Hardware concerns
Alright, we know, this review is late to the party. Fairphone 2 has been out for almost a year, and in that time all of the major tech reviewers have had their say. But considering our recent entrance to the world of reviews, this was a product that was circled as one of the first that we’d like to explore.
Summary: A leading alternative
Andrew Williams wrote in Wired, “The Fairphone 2 is a phone for those who don’t want to have to deal with the gnawing guilt that their phone is, in a small way, terrible for the planet and the human race as a whole”. And with Fairphone as a whole, this really is it: the bottom line is that the brand is one of the only legitimately ethical options in the global mobile phone marketplace.
The mobile phone industry is defined by its largely unsustainable, deeply unethical practice guided by annual or biennial upgrade cycles. This reality is emphasized further by the sector’s nasty, if not altogether absurd principle of planned obsolescence in each product’s life cycle. Apple and Microsoft users, among others, will know exactly what we’re talking about. If you’re new to the subject, then check out the recent award-winning documentary Death by Design.
Enter Fairphone. An ethical alternative contending in an arena of less than ethical options.
Fairphone 2 – Product review
Bracketing the ethical reasons for which one might purchase Fairphone 2 over, say, the latest iteration of the iPhone, the obvious question remains: what about the product itself? Andrew Williams gave the phone a 6/10 in Wired, citing: “A heart-warming injection of ethics; full marks for repairability; some interesting software ideas”. The cons? “Expensive; ugly; slow camera; and dated hardware”.
The positives and negatives cited by Williams are fairly consistent. The same points of praise and concern can be found, for instance, in James Vincent’s review in The Verge, which gave the Fairphone 2 a more complimentary 7.5 / 10. techradar, too, gave a positive verdict and a fantastic 4/5, citing the same balance of pros and cons. Digital Trends, on the other hand, gave the latest iteration of the Fairphone a 3.5 / 5. As for Mobile Choice, they rated the phone an identical 3.5 / 5.
With the positives and negatives more or less agreed upon among reviewers, what is inspiring is the thought that this is still a fledgling tech brand. We saw many improvements between Fairphone 1 and Fairphone 2, and no doubt the company will take on all the feedback it has received in its designing of a possible third version.
As for consumer choice, this really is, to quote Newsweek, “the world’s first modular smart phone that will last you for years”. In both its slim and regular style, the phone is by no means terrible to look at. It’s sleek for a dated design. It’s specs are also not to be disparaged:
5-inch Full HD LCD screen;
Android™ 5.1 Lollipop;
Qualcomm® quad core processor;
4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth®;
32 GB memory, expandable with SD card
At £420.00, it is a premium price to pay. But one also has to remember that this phone is fully modular. Spare parts are relatively cheap. It is ethically manufactured with conflict-free minerals. Optimized for 4G/LTE networks, Fairphone 2 will work in the U.S. but it’s not guaranteed to work throughout the world. So if you travel globally, this should be a point of consideration. The Fairphone 2 also has Dual-SIM and expandable memory. Additionally, any old products are recycled by the manufacturer, providing the consumer with a near total service from start to finish.
Fairphone has also been noted to have good customer service. In short, it is a company that one can happily support.
Ethical Comparison Research
So how does Fairphone stack-up in terms of overall ethical rating? Does its Ethical Company Index reflect the brands underlining commitments? Here there is no real debate. Fairphone ranks top in the Mobile Phone section of The Good Shopping Guide. In our latest research, the brand was given a near perfect 96 ECI.
With an average product review score of 65, there are some notable concerns. But combine this with an excellent overall ethical rating, Fairphone 2 ought to be considered when making your next mobile phone purchase.
* To obtain a census view of and average product score for the iPhone 7, we assessed a spread of several popular and authoritative productive reviews published in Wired, The Verge, Digital Trends, techradar, IBTimes, Mobile Choice, and Trusted Reviews.