Fairphone brings its repairability smarts to headphones
The headphones can be broken down into nearly a dozen replaceable piecesBy Shawn Knight
In a nutshell: Fairphone is branching out into new territory. The sustainable handset maker has launched Fairbuds XL, its first modular audio product. Contrary to its name, Fairbuds XL aren't actually earbuds but rather modular headphones.
Fairbuds XL headphones feature 40mm dynamic drivers that are said to deliver clear highs, warm mids, and deep bass, with a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz. The over-ear headphones are constructed of 100 percent recycled plastic and aluminum in all applicable parts and utilize vegan leather as well as recycled polyester and nylon.
Fairphone's latest carry an IP54 rating against dust and liquid and afford up to 30 hours of runtime on a single charge. They connect wirelessly using Bluetooth 5.1 and can be paired with multiple devices.
The cans are foldable for easier transportation and feature active noise cancellation as well as an ambient mode to let the outside world in. They are additionally compatible with smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant. The biggest selling point, however, is without a doubt their modular design.
The headphones were built to be simple to deconstruct for repair purposes. Components that wear out over time like the ear cushions, headband cover, and battery can easily be replaced with spares from Fairphone's website. Structural components including the headband, speaker-to-speaker cable, and the headband base are also modular.
Headphone technology moves at a slower pace than other electronics. This means they are a better fit for the modular business model than smartphones or computers that tempt consumers with new features year in and year out. It is one of the reasons modular electronics have not made much of a splash. Not many people want to hang onto a smartphone for a decade when new models drop annually.
Fairphone's Fairbuds XL headphones are available to purchase now priced at 249 euros, or around $270, and are offered in your choice of green or black. They are backed by a two-year warranty and carry a 14-day return policy.