Most technology brands are unwilling to make long-lasting, repairable products. But Fairphone stands out from the crowd—its smartphones outlast the competition thanks to easily-installable replacement parts and extended software support. Now, Fairphone’s repairable philosophy is coming to the audio market.
Available in European markets, the Fairphones Fairbuds XL (which are over-ear headphones, not earbuds) have a modular design with easily removable components. Everything from the battery to the headband cushion can snap away, and replacement parts are readily available at the Fairphone website.
I should clarify that a lot of headphones are “repairable.” Fairbuds XL are notable for two reasons—first, these are wireless headphones (which are rarely repairable, at least to this degree). And more importantly, you don’t need any special tools or knowledge to perform repairs on Fairbuds XL. Some repairs require a Philips head screwdriver, but you’ll never need to solder any wires, pick through tiny components, or consult a grainy YouTube video.
As for actual audio quality and functionality, the Fairbuds XL promise an “immersive” experience with balanced 40mm dynamic drivers, active noise cancelation, an ambient or “transparent” mode, and several in-app audio presets. Dual-point connectivity is also supported, so you can quickly switch between two audio sources (this feature is most useful for catching incoming calls while your headphones are connected to a computer).
The battery life clocks in at about 30 hours, while IP54 dust and water resistance ensures that the headphones won’t die after a sweaty trip to the gym. Of course, the headphones are also made of 100% recycled aluminum and tin solder paste, plus 80% recycled plastics.
Note that Fairphone’s original Fairbuds (which are actually earbuds) are not easily repairable. For this reason, we did not expect the Fairbuds XL to offer an easily-repairable design. We’re glad that we were wrong.
Customers across Europe can order Fairbuds XL for €249. They come with a 2-year guarantee, and replacement parts will arrive on the Fairphone store within the coming months. A North American launch hasn’t been announced.
Fairphone Fairbuds XL
The Fairphone Fairbuds XL feature an endlessly-repairable, modular design. Customers can order replacement parts for every component, including the battery, drivers, and cushions.