Many smartphone companies and carriers offer subscriptions to get you a new phone. But they all have a few things in common. Sooner or later, those plans will go up in price, and the goal is to replace your phone often (two years or sooner!). Fairphone’s new subscription plan bucks both those trends.
Fairphone, which makes a “sustainable” smartphone, prides itself on being environmentally friendly. The Fairphone 4 is modular, and you can replace the cameras, the USB-C port, the battery, and even the display. You won’t find glue or other tactics that make repair difficult. Fairphone even uses Fairtrade-certified gold, ethically sourced aluminum, tungsten, recycled tin, rare earth minerals, and plastics.
Now Fairphone is bucking tradition with its new subscription plan. Like most subscription plans, you pay a small amount up front and then more every month that you use the phone. But most smartphone plans offer upgrades to a new model every year or two, leading to more potential e-waste. Your year-old phone probably had plenty of life left, but now it’s out of your hands to who knows where.
The new Fairphone Easy plans still charge you a small monthly fee, €21.00. But the longer you keep the phone, the more that price decreases. After year one, you get a €1 discount, followed by €2 in year two and €8 in year three. The subscription plan also includes free repairs for anything other than water damage or abuse, including one free screen replacement a year.
Overall you’ll probably still pay more than buying a Fairphone 4 up front, but that’s true of most subscription plans, and you wouldn’t necessarily get free repairs without the subscription (though the Fairphone 4 does come with a five-year warranty).
Unfortunately, the Fairphone 4 isn’t available in the U.S. (at least not yet), and as such, the subscription plan is only available in Europe. But the concept is sound, and it will be interesting to see if other companies take note and copy it.