Lifestyle & Ethical Products · · 7 min read

Meet Fairphone, the Ethical and Sustainable Smartphone

Fairphone is a social enterprise that is committed to developing a fairer smartphone. The company was founded with the aim of creating a more sustainable and ethical supply chain for the electronics industry. The company works with partners across the supply chain to improve working conditions and e


Fairphone is a social enterprise that is committed to developing a fairer smartphone. The company was founded with the aim of creating a more sustainable and ethical supply chain for the electronics industry.

The company works with partners across the supply chain to improve working conditions and environmental sustainability.

The company also engages directly with consumers to raise awareness of the issues involved in making a smartphone.

In a world where technology is rapidly advancing, there is a growing concern for the impact that the production and disposal of electronic devices have on the environment and society.

Fairphone has taken up the challenge of creating a more sustainable and ethical smartphone.

The History of Fairphone

Fairphone was founded in 2013 by Bas van Abel, a Dutch social entrepreneur. The idea for Fairphone came to Bas Van Abel while he was working on a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He was struck by the prevalence of conflict minerals, which are used in the production of electronics, and the devastating impact they had on local communities.

This experience led him to explore ways to create a more ethical and sustainable smartphone.

The first Fairphone was launched in 2013, and it was designed to be a smartphone that was not only environmentally friendly but also socially responsible.

The company aimed to create a phone that would last longer, be easier to repair, and use fair trade and conflict-free materials.

Mission of Fairphone

The mission of Fairphone is to create a fairer electronics industry. They believe that the production and disposal of electronic devices should be done in a way that is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.

Fairphone’s goal is to challenge the status quo of the electronics industry and show that it is possible to create a better, more ethical smartphone.

To achieve this mission, Fairphone has taken a holistic approach to sustainability, looking at every aspect of the production and use of their phones.

They work with suppliers to ensure that their materials are responsibly sourced, and they have created a phone that is designed to be easy to repair and upgrade, reducing the need for consumers to replace their devices.

Vision of Fairphone

The vision of Fairphone is to create a world where electronics are produced and consumed in a way that is fair for people and the planet.

They believe that this can only be achieved by working with the entire electronics industry, from suppliers to consumers, to create a more sustainable and ethical system.

Fairphone’s ultimate goal is to change the way that electronic devices are produced and consumed. They hope to inspire other companies to adopt more sustainable and ethical practices, and to create a movement that will lead to a more responsible electronics industry.

Fairphone’s First Smartphone

The companies first product was the Fairphone 1, which was released in 2013. The Fairphone 1 was designed to be a more ethical and sustainable alternative to other smartphones on the market.

The phone was made with conflict-free minerals, recycled plastic, and fair labor standards. The Fairphone 1 was followed by the Fairphone 2, which was released in 2015.

The Fairphone 2 was designed to be even more sustainable and ethical than the first phone. It was made with recycled materials, conflict-free minerals, and fair labor standards.

Fairphone is committed to continuing to improve the sustainability and ethics of its products. The company released the Fairphone 3 in 2017 and recently released the Fairphone 4.

The Fairphone 4

This phone was created with the intention of being more sustainable and ethical than other phones on the market. The company uses recycled materials in the phone’s construction and aims to source minerals from conflict-free areas.

Furthermore, the phone is designed to be easily repaired, with spare parts readily available.

Founder of Fairphone on Creating the World’s First Ethical Smartphone

The phone runs on the Android operating system and is equipped with a 5.65-inch display, octa-core processor, and 64GB of storage.

It also features a dual camera setup and fingerprint sensor. The device was released in Europe and is currently only available unlocked.

Overall, the Fairphone 4 is a great option for those looking for a more sustainable and ethical phone. The device is well-built and designed to last, with easy repairability should something go wrong.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the major phone manufacturers, Fairphone is definitely worth considering.

The company is also working on a range of other initiatives to improve the sustainability and ethics of the smartphone industry.

These include a project to develop a modular smartphone that can be easily repaired and upgraded, and a project to create a fair trade label for smartphones.

Causeartist x Fairphone Podcast

In Episode 2 of the Disruptors for Good podcast I spoke with Bas Van Abel, founder of Fairphone, on creating the world’s first sustainable phone.

Listen on Spotify.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to more Causeartist podcasts here.

Topics we talk about:

  • The complexity of how cell phones are created
  • Fair trade materials and supply chains
  • Coming to the Untied States
  • The affects on mental health for entrepreneurs
  • Potential new products
  • Crowdfunding and Equity Crowdfunding

The company believes in sourcing conflict-free materials that support local economies, not armed militias. They work closely with manufacturers that want to invest in employee well being and ethical worker practices.

The company is also addressing the full lifespan of mobile phones, including use, reuse and safe recycling programs that make it easy to recycle your phone, so the parts can be re-purposed and not end up in landfills and the ocean.

The impact of Fairphone can be seen in the company’s growing customer base and the increasing awareness of the issues surrounding the smartphone industry.

Fairphone has been recognized by a number of organizations for its work in promoting sustainability and ethics. In 2016, it was also named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.

Fairtrade Gold

The company has paved the way to source more Fairtrade gold! Together with Fairtrade, they have partnered with Hirose Electric Co., Ltd. in Japan in order to integrate more Fairtrade gold into the Fairphone supply chain.

The relationship with Hirose and Fairtrade continues the support of ASM gold projects and miners. This is an incredible stepping stone for the larger vision of a Fairtrade and Fairphone partnership to scale responsible gold in the electronics sector.


Note: Fairphone calculates the amount of gold used and pays an amount equivalent to the Fairtrade Premium to the refiner who sources this amount of gold from the Fairtrade mines.

Similar to the Fairphone 3 model, the Fairtrade certified gold remains separate until the refiner level. Once at the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) it is then mixed with non-Fairtrade gold.

Our component supplier in Japan (Hirose) then purchases enough gold from SGE to cover the amount of Fairtrade gold claimed by Fairphone.

With this model, Fairphone contributes to the equivalent premium of the Fairtrade gold claimed for its supply chain and production volume.

Since Fairtrade gold is mass-balanced with non-Fairtrade gold in the SGE, that means that the certified gold is not guaranteed to be in the product.

However, our Japan pilot model builds on the mass-balance model and tracks the gold used along the value chain between factories owned by the same supplier.

We are continuing to work with Fairtrade to explore how we can bring more of our supply chain into the Fairtrade system.

While there are over 40 different materials in a smartphone, gold is one of Fairphone’s 14 focus materials and has been a target material for us since day one. It is a material often mined artisanally.

Since 2016, the company has been able to integrate Fairtrade gold into the supply chain, yet, this accounted for just a small percentage of all the gold used in devices, as gold is used in very small quantities, spread across many different components of the phone.

Though a good start, the company always aim to do better and find ways to encourage the industry to adopt similar practices.

This means building a supply chain model that could easily be replicated and scaled in the electronics sector. So in great Fairphone fashion, they put their heads together with partners – Fairtrade and other suppliers – to come up with the best solution to increase fairly sourced gold in our supply chain.

They are still exploring how this can be further replicated in the average electronics supply chain.

Fairphone for Business

Choosing a sustainable smartphone is a great way for startups and companies to step towards helping the planet and people – but it also helps your business.

  • Save time and money
    Thanks to our modular design, our smartphones last much longer than a non-modular smartphone. Additionally, the repair costs are much less than standard smartphones.
  • Meet your CSR goal
    Become a champion of sustainability, by making a positive impact on issues directly linked to 9 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Be supported beyond industry standards
    The proposition we offer to companies beyond our fair specs include: a 5 year warranty with spare parts available on the long term, electronic waste compensation & recycling (buy-back), long term software support and regular security and maintenance updates.


What is Fairphone?

Fairphone is a social enterprise that designs and manufactures smartphones with the aim of promoting ethical, sustainable, and fair practices in the electronics industry. It focuses on using responsibly sourced materials, ensuring fair labor conditions, and creating durable, repairable devices to minimize environmental impact.

What makes Fairphone different from other smartphone brands?

Fairphone sets itself apart by its commitment to ethical practices across the supply chain, from sourcing conflict-free minerals to ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions in factories. Its phones are designed for longevity, with modular components that users can easily replace or upgrade themselves.

Where can I buy a Fairphone?

Fairphones are available for purchase on the Fairphone website and through select retailers and online platforms in Europe and other parts of the world. Availability may vary by country, so it’s best to check the official Fairphone website for the most current information.

How does Fairphone support fair labor practices?

Fairphone supports fair labor practices by working closely with its suppliers to ensure safe working conditions and fair wages. The company also invests in worker welfare programs and aims to create long-term relationships with its manufacturing partners to promote continuous improvement in labor standards.

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