Want an easily repaired smartphone? Fairphone 2 might be for you

Fairphone's second-generation socially responsible smartphone will start shipping later this year

Fairphone's CTO Olivier Hebert working on the company's new  smartphone

Fairphone's CTO Olivier Hebert working on the company's new smartphone

Fairphone, the Dutch company that aims to sell socially responsible smartphones, is working on a second model that be repaired with little hassle and won't easily break. The company is also sticking with its goal of using conflict-free or fair trade minerals.

One of the company's key aims with the Fairphone 2 was to extend the longevity of the product.

Making it easy to repair is part of that. For example, it will be possible to replace the display on the Fairphone 2 in less than a minute, the company promises. After removing the case and battery, the two clips that lock the display in place are slid towards each other, and then the entire unit can be taken out, CTO Olivier Hebert said in a blog post on Tuesday.

The receiver, rear camera and speaker units can be repaired with the help of a screwdriver. To guide users, each unit is connected to the chassis with a set of color-coded screws. Fairphone is betting that buyers will sacrifice slimness for a smartphone that's easier to repair. The result is a phone that's 11 millimeters thick.

The hardware architecture also opens the door for future upgrades. All of the individual components can be replaced, provided they fit within the design of the original unit and can use the existing electrical interfaces. However, software complexities need to be addressed for upgrades to be possible, Hebert said without delving into the details.

A second goal was to build a device that doesn't easily break. Most current smartphones are simply too fragile, according to Hebert. The Fairphone 2, on the other hand, should survive a drop of about 2 meters onto concrete. The robustness is in part possible thanks to a rubber rim that wraps around the screen. Fairphone decided against making the phone completely sealed to keep out water and dust, as doing that conflicted with other design goals, especially the ability to open and repair the device.

The aim is still to manufacture a smartphone that doesn't use minerals from conflict zones, is recyclable, and is made by workers who are treated well. The Fariphone 2 will be available for pre-order before the end of August, and then ship during the following couple of months, the company said. Pricing wasn't announced.

Hardware specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and a 5-inch, Full HD screen. The camera has an 8-megapixel resolution and there is 32GB of storage that can be expanded using a microSD card. The LTE smartphone also has 2GB of RAM and two SIM slots. The operating system will be Android 5.1.

The first model, of which Fairphone sold 60,000, scored 7 out of 10 for repairability in a teardown test by repair website iFixit. Positives included that it's easy to open up the device and access the components. However, the glass is fused to both the display and the display frame, which increases repair costs -- a mistake Fairphone has learned from.

In general, today's high-end smartphones are a mixed bag when it comes to ease of repair.

Apple has a reputation for building products that are difficult to fix, but the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both got a 7 out of 10 score on iFixit. The company still uses proprietary Pentalobe screws, and it doesn't share repair information with independent repair shops or consumers. But the display assembly comes out easily and the battery is easy to access.

For people who want a high-end Android smartphone that's easily repaired, the G4 from LG Electronics is a good option. It was awarded an impressive 8 out of 10. The only drawback is that the glass and LCD will need to be replaced together if one or the other breaks.

Two other top-of-the-range smartphones, the Galaxy S6 from Samsung Electronics and HTC's One M9, didn't fair as well, scoring 4 and 2 out of 10, respectively. Strong adhesive on the rear glass makes it very difficult to gain entry to the S6's innards. On the One M9 adhesives make many components difficult, and even dangerous, to remove and replace, iFixit said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesconsumer electronicsFairphone

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?