Fairphone 3: More Traction, less Fair?

Fairphone is as idealistic as it is ambitious – can it remain uncompromised in its values?

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No smartphone has an impact of absolute zero.

But the Fairphone company, which began shipping the first batch of its 3rd generation phone just last week, is likely the most ethically manufactured and sustainably sourced smartphone currently on the market – by objective standards.

Fairphone truly longs to be a game changer: Several of the used materials are mined through mostly conflict-free processes. Production actively prioritizes employee wellbeing, representation and satisfaction, deep into its supply chain. It signals honest concern and strives for absolute transparency. The phone itself uses a modular design that celebrates repair in the face of a throwaway society.

Fairphone 3 specs and design have also improved drastically compared to its predecessors. And improved functioning and looks are important steps towards reaching a wider audience – to scale up. 

And in the end, scaleable is what Fairphone needs to be if it wants to disrupt the industry, right? Yet with growth comes another concern: compromise.

Because the Fairphone company might not be able to serve its increasing customer base while simultaneously sticking to its ambitious mission and vision. They’ve already faced harsh criticism in the past for technical hiccups and are constantly compared to glamour counterparts by Apple, Samsung & Co. If Fairphone wants to stay afloat in the smartphone industry, it’s still plausible that it might be forced to adapt its ambitions.

But there is a lot of potential for steering clear from the road of discarded ideals. An important one is that Fairphone strongly beliefs in and successfully practices partnerships. They know that a systems change is needed and that neither a small company nor any established player can achieve that on its own. With its community of change-makers, including Circle Economy, B Corp and even megaplayer Vodafone, Fairphone seems in it for the long haul.

So please, Fairphone, keep forming these important partnerships. And to other brands: please join the community. Your first, second and third-tier employees somewhere at the other end of the world will thank you, as will the planet. And with them, your increasingly conscious customers.


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