Most associate modular smartphones like Project Ara with literal modules for components like the CPU, camera and battery. Fairphone is taking a different approach to modular smartphones with its sophomore effort, the Fairphone 2.
First, a quick rundown of the Fairphone 2’s specifications. The handset will ship with a 5-inch, 1080p display covered in Gorilla Glass 3 that’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC alongside 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
There’s an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, two SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. It comes with all of the standard connectivity you’d expect: 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 4.0. Android 5.1 Lollipop will ship pre-installed.
The specifications place the phone somewhere between the midrange and flagship category but cutting-edge internals aren’t really what the Fairphone 2 is about.
The Fairphone team’s strategy is to build a sustainable device that values ethics. To that end, the Fairphone 2 is being marketed as a repairable, recyclable Android smartphone that has as little impact on the environment as possible.
I mentioned a modular design in the introduction and technically, that’s what you get with the Fairphone 2. Instead of actual modules that attach to a barebones chassis, however, the standard-looking Fairphone 2 was designed in a way that makes it easy to disassemble and replace key components.
Think of it less as a Project Ara competitor and more like a desktop computer with internal components that can easily be replaced and upgraded. The handset was constructed around seven “building blocks.” The idea behind this “modular” approach is to extend the longevity of the product. Some components, like the display, can be replaced in less than a minute without any tools. Other units, such as the rear camera and speaker, can be swapped out with just a screwdriver.
While not as flexible as Project Ara or PuzzlePhone, it will no doubt cater to a select audience.
Fairphone will start accepting pre-orders for the €525 (around $600) handset this summer with plans to ship the first batch to buyers in the fall.