On first glance, it looks like any Android-powered touch-screen smartphone, but scratch beneath the surface and the Fairphone is much more.
The phone was built through a transparent supply chain with minerals and precious metals sourced from conflict-free Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its creators, who have worked for three years to bring the first handset to market, stress that the Fairphone is just the beginning and that this particular handset is simply the first step on a longer journey towards devices built by people in the best possible working conditions, devices that protect rather than impact the environment and that can be simply recycled.
The first handset, which boasts a 4.3-inch touch screen, version 4.2 of Android and a quad-core processor, has been available to the site's members for order since the start of May but as of May 23 is available to anyone who shares the company's values.
However, the business needs to secure 5,000 orders for the Fairphone before it can start manufacturing. The handset can be ordered directly from the Fairphone site for €325, including taxes, and if the company hits its target, the finished phones will ship in the autumn.
While phone makers are all doing more to reduce their environmental impact and shed more light on the working practices of their supply chain partners, there is currently no standardized or universally recognized measure or rating system for smartphones, their impact on the environment, power consumption or levels of pollution caused by their manufacture. The Fairphone could be a step towards changing this situation.