The world’s first fair-trade smartphone has been unveiled as Fairphone and is being called the most ethically sourced device on the market.
The Fairphone smartphone is the product of the company’s campaign for fair wages and working conditions for people working in the supply chain for smartphone manufacturers.
Product manager Miquel Ballester decided that making a smartphone would help the campaign, especially as the company is working together with pressure groups to ensure the phone is fair-trade.
“The whole point of the Fairphone social enterprise and the campaign that came before it is to intervene on the ground where the problems have originated,” explained Ballester. “It’s only as a manufacturer that you’re playing by the same rules as the big brands. Then you can have real impact.”
Several smartphone manufacturers, including giants like Apple and Samsung, have been criticised for rumoured links to conflict zone sources for their smartphone supply chains.
Armed militia groups are manning mines in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo where large smartphone manufacturers source materials like tantalum, tin and tungsten, and those groups are reaping the financial rewards.
Created from tin and tantlum, the materials for the Fairphone are extracted from conflict-free mines in South Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, meaning none of the profits go towards arms purchases.
“With the classical social auditing of manufacturers that’s been done for the past 20 years, you can tick a few boxes and earn a certification, but once you turn around and leave the factory there’s nothing to stop things from changing,” added Ballester, explaining the FAirphone isn’t 100 per cent fair-trade. “For us, it’s about creating a business environment that favours ethical treatment from the outset.”
The Fairphone has a 4.3-inch screen of unknown resolution and runs a modified version of Android.
There’s a dual SIM card slot, and it can be opened by consumers who want to tinker with its hardware.
Available from December, the Fairphone will be priced at £272. There have already been nearly 15,000 units of the device pre-ordered.
Next, read our roundup of the best mobile phones of 2013.