Fairphone 2 beats LG and Google to the punch with a revolutionary modular design
A lot was, rightly, made of LG’s upcoming smartphone – the LG G5 – which looks set to beat Google’s Project Ara to the punch with modular elements. Last laugh LG, you might think, but they’ve been beaten to that same punch by Fairphone, a company that made moderate waves a few years ago by attempting to disrupt the ethically murky world of smartphone manufacturing by sourcing conflict-free metals for use in construction.
The Fairphone 2 isn’t modular in the same way as LG’s is, in that there are no upgrades here for now. In the spirit of breaking down the environmentally damaging two-year upgrade cycle, Fairphone 2 lets you just replace single elements when they stop working, and has been designed in such a way that anyone with a screwdriver and 60 seconds will be able to do it. Take a look at the video below to see how difficult “screen switch” surgery – very easily terminal for mainstream smartphones – is on the Fairphone 2.
Right now, the company’s shop contains a limited number of modules for replacement including the screen for €85.70 (~£67) and the camera for €34.28 (~£27). The base phone itself – with a Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM – goes for €529.38 (~£419).
As someone who has managed to break “a number” of smartphone screens over the years, this appears to be a great deal (no cracks since October 2012!), but in terms of keeping a quiet life, it’s hard to see too many wanting to follow Fairphone’s example. Old habits die hard: those old “warranty void if removed” stickers may be pretty unfair, but for manufacturers, they offer a clear-cut way of seeing who has been tinkering, and blurring those lines could just be too messy to contemplate for now.
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