You buy a new one every couple of years. It’s by your side all the time. Your life, social and professional, is in this device. A day without it makes you feel disoriented and lost. It’s that important. But have you ever thought about how your smartphone is made?
What’s in a smartphone?
From the minerals that are necessary for the components to the working conditions of those who assemble the phone, the production of smartphones is fraught with conflict. Essential minerals for smartphones such as gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten are sometimes sourced from parts of the world that have extremely poor labor conditions for workers. The purchase of these minerals, depending on the area from where they are sourced, may also help provide financial support to serious conflicts. The entire supply chain of smartphone production from beginning to end contains a minefield of serious issues that many major manufacturers choose to ignore. But there’s one company out there looking to change all that.
Fairphone is a social enterprise company based in Amsterdam whose mission is to develop, design, and produce socially responsible smartphones. From the supply chain through to production, their goal is to ethically source the materials necessary for production while also ensuring that labor conditions are fair. While they acknowledge that it is not yet possible to produce a 100% fair phone, their goal to do so has the aim to raise awareness among consumers and the mobile phone industry about the issues that they face. Alongside their achievement of sourcing conflict-free tin and tantalum, Fairphone has managed to build the first-ever Fairtrade gold supply chain in the consumer electronics industry. They operate with a commitment to transparency and you can find things such as a list of their suppliers as well as an explanation as to how they decided to pick their production partners on their website.
The phone itself
The latest phone from Fairphone is the Fairphone 2. It is the first modular smartphone available for consumers and it is designed for a longer than average lifespan of 5 years. The modular nature of the phone allows for parts to be easily replaced by the user extending the lifespan of the phone, reducing the need to replace the entire device thereby reducing the user’s environmental impact on the planet. So if you’re in the market for a new phone and are looking to support a company that supports social change, look into a Fairphone.