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Fairphone: People have ‘lost touch’ with what’s inside their smartphones

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fairphone tungsten
Washed Tungsten, Rwanda (Credit: Fairphone)

We all have a smartphone, but how much do we really know about what goes into the devices we use every day?

Very little, according to one industry expert who claims our collective knowledge about smartphone manufacturing simply isn’t good enough.

Tessa Wernink, the Communications Director of Fairphone, tells TrustedReviews she thinks there’s a worrying lack of transparency from phone makers.

“Most phones, I think people have just lost touch with what’s inside,” explains Wernink, speaking at a press briefing for the UN's Momentum for Change, an initiative that helps put a spotlight on organisations that fight climate change.

You can’t open them anymore, you don’t know where it comes from, what materials are inside,” she adds.

Fairphone is a UK start-up that sells ethically sourced smartphones that make use of conflict-free metals.

It aims to improve transparency through the modular design of its phone – the Fairphone 2 – which also makes it easy to repair.

What's more, the company website also includes a cost breakdown of the phone, so that customers understand exactly where the money is going.

But why don’t other companies follow suit? According to Wernink, being ethical simply isn’t good for business.

“One of the bigger reasons why people aren’t transparent is for that competitive advantage,” she tells us.

Wernink adds: “And for us, the message is that people want to know what their money is going towards.”

Fairphone 2The Fairphone 2

Wernink tells us she wishes all smartphones would be ethically sourced by “next year”, but she believes that’s not a realistic goal.

However, if smartphone manufacturers do become more ethical, it does raise the question as to what then happens to Fairphone’s business model, which is based entirely on a single USP – transparency.

Wernink told us she thinks it would be great if manufacturers “started competing on fairness”, and that “dissolving the company would actually be a really great step” if Fairphone achieves the impact it has set out to create.

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To date, over 60,000 Fairphones have been sold, and 20,000 units of the Fairphone 2 have already been pre-ordered.

The latter, which prices at around €525, boasts a 5-inch Full HD display, a Snapdragon 801 processor, 32GB of storage, and runs on Google’s Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system.

Do you think smartphone manufacturers should be more transparent? Let us know in the comments.

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