You Can Repair Your Own Ethical Smartphone
Shenzhen was a little river village thirty years ago, located north of Hong Kong in China. Shenzhen is today a thriving manufacturing hub, with a population of over 13 million people.
The majority of the residents in this city work in manufacturing, and many of our favorite Made in China products are made here. This is where Foxconn, one of the businesses that manufactures iPhones and iPads, employs 430,000 individuals who earn an average of $300 a month.
For years, humanitarian concerns have surrounded Apple’s production procedures. Child labor, unethical wage discrepancies, and working circumstances that would never be tolerated in the United States have been reported.
Unfortunately, Apple has made little attempt to improve these workers’ pay and working conditions, which many consumers have noticed as Apple Inc.’s profit margins continue to climb.
Most people would prefer not live without mobile phones and other similar goods developed in Shenzhen. While swapping out a pair of Nikes for a brand with better manufacturing policies is a viable option, there are less similar alternatives for cellphones, particularly Apple’s.
Then there’s Fairphone.
The Morally Correct Option
Fairphone is a Dutch corporation with a user base of around 100,000 people, with the majority of them being in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
Unlike Apple, Fairphone wants to “demystify the mechanics of the mobile phone” by allowing people to maintain their own phones with updates, hardware, and general maintenance.
Fairphone features a modular architecture that makes it simple to disassemble, change parts, and reassemble the phone. This would let a customer to buy a single phone and upgrade the internal components as needed. The user would save money, and there would be less trash on the world.
Fairphone is a socially responsible alternative to Apple’s internal mantras and closed-system restrictions, which make it difficult for customers to personalize or even maintain an out-of-date Apple device.
The question now is whether smartphone consumers will find the new Fairphone to be a viable alternative.
Specifications of the Fairphone
In 2017, when Fairphone says it will launch a marketing campaign in the United States, consumers in the United States will have a chance to answer that question for themselves.
Fairphone just released an open source operating system that is based on Android but does not include Google services. For consumers, this means developing your own email, map, and web browsing apps.
On the one hand, some Android users may appreciate having more control over their devices; nevertheless, most users are likely to view open source as a challenge they aren’t ready to take on.
The Fairphone 2 features Android 5.1 Lollipop with full customization, a 5-inch HD display, an 8-megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, two micro-sim card slots, and a Qualcomm quad-core processor. For a little less than $600, you can get your hands on one.
The Alternative’s Cost
Whatever way you look at it, that’s still a pricey phone. On the plus side, if you upgrade the parts, you should be able to keep it in good working order for the next ten years.
But Fairphone’s true achievement may be in bringing attention to lesser-known truths about our consumerism, mobile technology, and what it’s doing to people in places like Shenzhen.
Consider a world in which you don’t have to replace your phone every two years. For a corporation like Apple, what does that world look like?
We may all find out next year, depending on how successfully the launch goes.
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