Google’s Project Ara has received a lot of attention lately thanks to its modularity, which will let consumers swap parts on their phone to suit their needs in a particular situation. Now another company has adopted that idea to help reduce waste and extend the lives of our devices.
Fairphone today revealed the Fairphone 2, a modular device that’s easily repairable and lets users swap out any parts that may be broken rather than forcing them to buy a whole new phone. For example, its outer shell is user-replaceable and includes a rubberized rim to help protect the screen, which is probably one of the most oft-broken smartphone parts. Because these protective features are built into the phone’s case, owners needn’t worry about buying a case, and they can also swap in a different outer case that might be more personal or more functional.
The Fairphone 2 is also water and dust resistant, which are two other things that can quickly and easily kill a phone. Despite the fact that it’s got a tough outer case that’s also water resistant, the Fairphone 2 is easy to disassemble and reassemble. That’s thanks to its modular build that includes building blocks like the outer case, battery, core unit with chipset and SIM holders, display, rear camera, and speaker. Fairphone also notes that all of the electromechanical parts are easily replaceable and, save for the microphones, none are soldered.
When it comes time to repair a Fairphone 2, consumers need only minimal tools. A screwdriver is the only tool that you’ll need to replace the receiver, camera, and speaker, and you won’t need any tools to replace a display, which is a repair that’ll take less than a minute.
Fairphone does say that there are a few more complex repairs that could be needed, but instructions and tools for advanced users will be available, and repair facilities can be used for the more inexperienced users.
In terms of raw specs, the Fairphone 2 features a 5-inch 1920x1080 screen, Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a microSD slot, and Gorilla Glass 3. Also included is a rear expansion port that can be used to add additional goodies in the future.
The Fairphone 2 will launch in Europe in fall 2015 for €525 ($590 USD). A pre-order will launch this summer. The Fairphone 2 will launch with Android 5.1 in tow, but its modularity is extending to its software, as Fairphone plans to open source many parts of its software and allow users to build ROMs using other OSes like Jolla or Ubuntu that can then be flashed to the phone.
While the Fairphone 2 may not be the sexiest smartphone around, the device and Fairphone the company are commendable for making an attempt to reduce waste. It’s actually a decently-specced phone, too, offering a 1080p screen and a Snapdragon 801 that should be able to handle most of what regular users throw at it.