Fairphone 4 offers an unprecedented five-year warranty, is a unique electronic waste-neutral handset and contains fairly sourced materials, challenging the electronics industry to take a more responsible approach.
Dutch social enterprise Fairphone is proud to announce the launch of its latest device, Fairphone 4 5G, demonstrating that it is possible to place sustainability at the heart of the latest consumer technology. With today’s launch, Fairphone introduces the world’s first modular 5G smartphone that is also a more sustainable, repairable and socially responsible device. The smartphone is the next phase in the company’s journey to develop fair, long-lasting, high-quality devices and establish a market for ethical and fair electronics.
With the launch of Fairphone 4, the company is applying the lessons it has learnt from previous phones to a device with 5G support and new features that provide additional benefits for users. The smartphone is the sustainable choice for customers who don’t want to compromise on the latest technology. Fairphone is raising the bar for itself and the industry by introducing a five-year warranty at no additional cost, to encourage people to use — and enjoy — their phones for longer. This is an unrivalled commitment in the electronics sector and is an addition to Fairphone guaranteeing long-term availability of spare parts, combined with software support. For Fairphone 4, software support is guaranteed until the end of 2025 and includes upgrades to Android 12 and Android 13, but the company aims to extend it even further, until the end of 2027, with upgrades to Android 14 and Android 15 despite support from the chipset supplier expiring. With this unparalleled ambition, Fairphone is aiming to repeat what it succeeded in doing with a previous model: six years of software support from the launch of an Android device.
Eva Gouwens, CEO of Fairphone, outlines the company’s goals for Fairphone 4, stating:
“We’re taking a completely different approach to manufacturing smartphones — we’re changing the way devices are made and used. We want to challenge the traditional way of designing devices, including the notion that thinner is better. The starting point in development was to produce a premium sustainable smartphone that is future-proof, easily repairable, designed to last and therefore more circular and fair. We want Fairphone 4 to be a device that people enjoy keeping for longer and that sets them apart from the crowd. Our customers are people who make independent choices to create positive change, and they choose Fairphone to accelerate that change.”
Alistair Wilson, Director of Partnerships and Devices, EE: “Partnering with leading sustainable manufacturer Fairphone to bring Fairphone 4 5G to our award-winning 5G network, is another part of our commitment to help provide customers with sustainable choices. This includes helping them to make the most of their existing smartphones with annual device MOT’s and same day repair services. The whole EE business, from our mobile network to our 575+ high street stores is powered using 100% renewable electricity, and we have a target to become a net-zero emissions business by 2030 for our own operations”.
Fairphone’s holistic approach to sustainability is what truly sets it apart, making the Fairphone 4 a leading sustainable device on the market. Unlike other industry players, Fairphone focuses not only on its environmental impact but also on its social impact on the electronics supply chain, working towards systemic change. Sustainability and longevity are at the heart of everything Fairphone does, and with every new phone it launches, it sets an example for the smartphone industry.
- Fairphone 4 is the first electronic waste neutral handset released. The company will compensate users’ phones and spare parts by responsibly recycling one phone (or an equal amount of small electronic waste) for every Fairphone 4 sold. Alternatively, Fairphone will take back and refurbish at least one other phone to prevent the production of a new one. The phones used for this programme are sourced from Fairphone’s European take-back efforts or from countries without formal recycling infrastructure, and are brought to Europe for environmentally sound recycling.
- Fairphone has expanded its list of fair materials, adding six new ones, and is now focusing on 14 key materials from sustainable and fairer sources. For Fairphone 4 they include; Fairtrade-certified gold, aluminium from Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Performance Standard certified vendors, fair tungsten from Rwanda as well as recycled tin, rare earth minerals and plastics. Fairphone is the first smartphone brand to have a back cover made of 100% post consumer recycled polycarbonate. Fair sourcing means engaging and tackling issues in supply chains, such as child labour and unsafe working conditions, while driving opportunities for positive impact. For miners and workers, this means fair working conditions, such as a safe and healthy working environment, and access to personal protective equipment. Fair sourcing also empowers communities to thrive and protects the environment. Fairphone has made significant progress on this front; about 56% of its original eight focus materials have been fairly sourced in 2020, up from 25% in 2018 and 32% in 2019.
- Fairphone developed its innovative living wage programme and aims to expand partnerships with strategic suppliers to improve working conditions for their employees. In 2020, 10,717 people benefited from Fairphone’s social, environmental or economic interventions in mines and factories, almost twice as many as in 2018, when those benefiting totalled 5,296. For example, in 2020, Chinese factory workers for Fairphone’s production supplier received a living wage bonus that was the equivalent of up to more than four months extra salary, to fill the gap between the Chinese minimum wage and living wage.
- Important scores and third-party certifications also prove Fairphone 4’s sustainability claims. Fairphone 4 is the first smartphone certified according to TCO Certified, a third-party sustainability certification for IT products. The 6GB/128GB internal storage variant has also received an 85/100 Eco Rating score, a labelling scheme initiated by five leading European mobile operators which evaluates the environmental impact of the entire process of production, transportation, use and disposal of mobile phones. And in France, Fairphone 4 has received 9.3 for its 8GB RAM/256GB internal storage variant for the French Repairability Index. The index aims to encourage consumers to choose more repairable products and manufacturers to improve the repairability of their products. In addition, Fairphone is now an official member of the Right to Repair campaign.
Since its launch in 2013, Fairphone has been working to transform the electronics sector into an industry that cares for people and planet. The industry faces a growing stream of electronic waste caused by the 1.4 billion mobile phones sold each year. The average phone has a short lifespan of 2-3 years. In addition, only 15% of discarded phones are collected for recycling. The short-sighted attitude affects every part of the industry and supply chain. In addition, making smartphones requires natural resources and these minerals are limited. Mining these materials can have a negative environmental impact. Extracting the necessary materials for a smartphone can also have serious social consequences, as it could be associated with child labour or dangerous working conditions. By establishing a market for ethical electronics, Fairphone is prompting the electronics industry to act more responsibly.
With each generation of its mobile phones, Fairphone has introduced the industry to its latest concept of fairness. Fairphone 1 marked the company’s debut in the industry as a force for change— the first smartphone company attempting to create an ecosystem for easy repairability by offering all spare parts on its online store. Fairphone 2 was the first modular phone on the market, a revolutionary concept to increase repairability and longevity. With Fairphone 3, the company widened its reach and proved to the industry that sustainability is a viable business model.
Fairphone 4 offers a step up in tech specifications. Users have a choice of 6GB of RAM with 128GB of internal storage or 8GB of RAM with 256GB of internal storage, allowing the phone to handle the most complex tasks with ease. Running on Android 11, Fairphone 4 features a fast, powerful and reliable Qualcomm chipset with future-proof 5G, to support the company’s principle of longevity. It boasts a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with Pixelworks technology for a smooth and immersive user experience. The display is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for great durability and resistance to drops and scratches. Its 3,905 mAh battery is replaceable and can be charged to 50% in 30 minutes (with minimum 20W charger). Designed with Swedish design agency Above, Fairphone 4 is distinctive yet stylish and sleek, sporting a tactile back cover and a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.
The device features the company’s highest-quality camera to date, designed to let users focus on what matters most: image quality and true-to-life colours in every frame and every setting. The camera comes with a pair of premium lenses — a 48MP main camera for all the details and a 48MP ultrawide camera for the bigger picture — and to top it off, a 25MP selfie camera. It has fast autofocus with laser accuracy and advanced image stabilization for smooth video recording. The camera software makes for an intuitive, effortless experience.
Fairphone is also expanding its portfolio beyond smartphones. Along with other accessories and spare parts, Fairphone is launching true wireless earbuds from a licensed design, made with 30% recycled plastics and with Fairtrade Gold integrated into its supply chain, another first in Fairphone’s growing portfolio. It’s Fairphone’s first step in the journey to increase the level of sustainability in the audio segment.
Gouwens concludes: “We’re raising the bar for ourselves and the industry, showing that doing things more sustainably makes good business sense. Fairphone 4 is a unique product: the first ever electronic waste neutral device and with a five-year warranty. It shows the industry a different way of encouraging longevity and fairness while going way beyond the accepted standards. Fairphone 4 will be our biggest phone release to date, as interest in sustainable devices continues to grow, reflected in the hundreds of thousands of devices we’ve sold with each new phone. With Fairphone 4, we took what we’ve done in the past and packaged it into a future-proof product that takes the challenge for the entire industry to the next level.”
Fairphone 4 will be available for pre-order on 30 September from Fairphone’s website and selected partners, at a suggested retail price of €579 or €649. The two variants of the device will be released on 25 October and will be available in Europe from a wide distribution network of (online) retailers and operators.
Unboxing the Fairphone 4 5G.