July 19, 2024
Fairphone revives the dream of a smartphone that lasts 10 years

Our phones have lamentably short lives. Batteries die before they’re old, compatibility is transient, software support expires, and minor upgrades soon arrive that are presented as must-haves. It’s an insidious model — and one that Fairphone is upending.

The Dutch startup this week released a handset that sets new standards for sustainability: the Fairphone 5. Laudably, the company envisions the device functioning for 10 years.

The modular machine is built for repairability. Not only can you replace fading batteries, but also nine other parts, including the screen, USB-C port, and speakers.

To change them, just grab a screwdriver and follow the video guide. (After inspecting the system during the IFA Berlin trade show, TNW can attest that it’s as simple as it sounds.) As a further commitment to durability, the Fairphone 5 ships with a five-year warranty.

On the software side, the protection is even longer. Fairphone provides at least eight years of OS support — but aims for an entire decade.

“We promise it until 2031,” Miquel Ballester, co-founder and head of product management at Fairphone, told TNW. “But we’re quite sure that we’ll be able to stretch it to 10 years.” 

It’s a target that’s unrivalled among Android devices. To set the benchmark, Fairphone chose a chipset that’s built for industrial applications: the Qualcomm QCM6490. As the processor is designed for hardware and devices with a longer lifetime than phones, the software support cycle can also be extended.

In a world of pricey phones that only last for two to three years, the support and repairability have obvious consumer appeal. But the biggest benefits go to the planet.

All the modular components of the Fairphone 5