Iphone, Galaxy or Xperia. The smart phone market is thriving. Besides the latest technology the brands usually have one thing in common: they exploit humans and the environment. The materials used in the phone, like cobalt, gold or coltan, often come from conflict regions and, thus, enhance violence. The phones are often produced in third world countries, the workers are paid a poor salary and work under unacceptable conditions. Moreover, old or broken phones can hardly be recycled and, in this way, produce a lot of polluting waste.
But, today, a new generation of smart phones is entering the market. We’ll introduce you to two of hopefully many examples of phones that are more responsible.
The fair alternative
Once upon a time Bas van Abel looked at his smart phone and was upset about all the conflicts that were fueled by producing this item. Warlords and civil wars are financed by mining metals like cobalt, gold or coltan. There must be an alternative, he thought to himself.
So or so like was probably the day Bas van Abel got the idea for a fair phone. Today, the dutch start-up enterprise Fair Phone is currently producing the first series of a new kind of phone. More than 16,000 of a total number of 25,000 are already sold. The website promises that the materials do not come from conflict regions and the workers, assembling the phone, are paid a decent salary. On top, the company supports recycling since their concept addresses the whole lifespan of a phone. For these promising prospects you don’t even have to make a compromise. The Fair Phone has all desirable technical features, like camera with 8 megapixel, dual sim, quad-core, and a 4,3 inch touchscreen.
If you are curious or in need of a new phone have a look at the website. The first series will be ready to use by the end of autumn, but you can already by one at 325€ (440$). Perfect timing for christmas gifts!
As usual, it doesn’t do any harm to be a bit of a sceptic. For now, nor Fair Phone only revealed the origin of the metals tin and tantalum. But these two materials usually come from conflict-free regions, like Australia in the case of tantalum. Moreover, also other phone companies like Nokia, Motorala and Blackberry support the initiative “Conflict-free Tin”, an aid project for Kongo. So the dedication of Fair Phone towards conflict-free tin is neither unique nor new. However, Fair Phone wants to show all their producing chains soon, so we can be curious as to whether this phone is capable of changing the world.
A phone that lasts
Everybody know the problems. The display of the phone broke, or the speaker does not work properly anymore: although the rest works perfectly it is time for a new phone. Tactic of phone companies or just ignorance?
It is a Dutch, again, who has an innovative idea. Dave Hakkens developed the concept of Phonebloks. Every part of the phone is detachable and can be replaced by another. This is useful when one part is broken, but you can also vary your phone according to your wishes, like upgrading the battery or replacing the camera with a new one. You didn’t even have to stick to one brand but could use a Samsung display, a Canon camera and Motorola speakers. Dave Hakkens wants to create a market where companies interact better, as he states on his website: ” I love the connected world that we live in and it’s time to set up a universal modular platform that companies work on together.”
For now, Phonebloks is just a concept. You can support the idea via social media. The aim is to get as many supporters as possible and show the companies that there is a market for Phonebloks.
Do you think this is the technology of the future?