At a time when the environmental impact of the production and consumption of electronic devices is becoming increasingly public awareness, the topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the smartphone industry. Manufacturers are required to develop and implement responsible practices to reduce the environmental footprint of their products while meeting customer needs. In this blog post we would like to introduce three sustainable smartphones that are characterized by special features and approaches to sustainability: the Fairphone 4, the SHIFT6mq and the Rephone.
But what actually makes a smartphone sustainable? An important aspect is the repairability of the device. Thanks to a modular design and easy access to spare parts, users can maintain their smartphones independently, which extends the life of the device and reduces electronic waste. In addition, the use of sustainable materials plays a crucial role. Recycled and bio-based materials can help to minimize resource consumption and environmental impact.
Energy efficiency and carbon neutrality are other important factors that should be considered when assessing the sustainability of smartphones. Manufacturers that take care to optimize the energy consumption of their devices and reduce CO2 emissions throughout the production chain are helping to combat climate change.
Fair working conditions and transparent supply chains also play a central role. Companies that promote humane working conditions and fair wages and carefully select their suppliers contribute to improving working conditions and strengthening human rights.
Last but not least, durability is another key feature of sustainable smartphones. Devices that last a long time and continue to receive updates even after years allow users to use their smartphones for longer and thus reduce electronic waste.
In the following sections we will take a closer look at the sustainable smartphones mentioned - Fairphone 4, SHIFT6mq and Rephone - and examine their specific approaches to sustainability.
The classic among sustainable smartphones: Fairphone
At a time when sustainability and social responsibility are becoming increasingly important, the Fairphone 4 has attracted a lot of attention. This smartphone takes a different approach and puts fairness and environmental protection first.
The Fairphone 4 is a powerful smartphone that is built to last. It uses fair and recycled materials while still offering impressive technical specifications such as 5G connectivity and a premium dual camera. The 5-year guarantee is a strong signal of the reliability and sustainability of the device.
Particular attention is paid to the repairable design of the Fairphone 4. In contrast to many other smartphones, the Fairphone 4 allows for easy repairs, meaning even laypeople can easily replace the battery or display. The device even received an iFixit rating of 10 out of 10 for repairable design.
The focus on fair materials is reflected in the use of Fairtrade Gold and recycled materials such as ASI-certified aluminum and 100% recycled plastic for the back cover. The company is also working to integrate fair trade cobalt and lithium into its batteries and is currently the only smartphone manufacturer to use fair trade gold in its supply chain.
Fairphone is also committed to improving working conditions in the electronics industry. Every Fairphone 4 sold contributes to living wages for factory workers, and the company has received B Corp certification, highlighting its commitment to social and environmental issues.
Fairphone 4 Specs
Technically, the Fairphone 4 offers an excellent user experience with a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display, 5G connectivity and a dual camera with 48MP main cameras. The Fairphone operating system Android 12 ensures an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
The Fairphone 4 questions whether it is possible to produce a powerful smartphone without harming the environment and working conditions in the supply chain. It shows that sustainability and technology can go hand in hand and that it is time for more companies to take this path.
The Shift Phone: SHIFT6mq
The SHIFT6mq is a sustainable smartphone that stands out for its environmentally friendly features and socially responsible production methods. With a fully modular design and more than 13 easy-to-replace modules, the SHIFT6mq offers a high level of repairability and thus promotes the longevity of the device. It therefore contributes to the reduction of electronic waste and is in line with the concept of the circular economy.
The device is delivered with the Android-based operating system ShiftOS 3 and receives an upgrade to ShiftOS 5 or Android 13 in 2023. These regular updates ensure an extended service life and more security for users. The SHIFT6mq also offers extensive community custom ROM support, providing additional options for customization and updates.
For the sustainability aspect, SHIFT6mq relies on a cooperation with the partner Closing the Loop in order to be positive for electronic waste. The smartphone also comes with a tempered glass, bumper, screwdriver and a USB-C cable with USB-A adapter. To ensure that no SHIFT6mq gets forgotten in a drawer, the company has introduced a device deposit.
The smartphone is designed in Falkenberg, Germany and fairly manufactured in our own factory in China. The materials used for the case are recyclable polycarbonate - and the bumper is made of TPU.
The SHIFT6mq specifications in detail
The SHIFT6mq has 128GB of internal storage, 8GB of RAM and an SD card slot for micro SDXC cards up to 2TB. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, and the camera is equipped with a 16MP Sony IMX519 sensor and a 24MP Samsung S5K2X7SP sensor. The 6-inch display has a Full HD+ resolution (2160 x 1080) and uses AMOLED technology. The replaceable 3850 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 4.0 and Power Delivery 3. The SHIFT6mq is dual SIM capable, offering a variety of connectivity options such as Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass and Galileo as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack. In simple words: The SHIFT6mq has everything modern smartphone users need.
Overall, the SHIFT6mq is a sustainable smartphone that is characterized by its modular design, environmentally friendly partnerships, fair production conditions and long-lasting components.
Regionally throughout the entire supply chain: Rephone
The Rephone is a sustainable smartphone that was developed by the Cologne company 4G Systems. The focus of this device is on regionality: development, most of the production and recycling take place in Bocholt in North Rhine-Westphalia - only green electricity is used there.
Rephone: technical data
The smartphone is equipped with Android 12, with updates provided by servers in Germany. The Rephone has a 6.3-inch Full HD+ IPS display and is powered by a Mediatek Helio G85 octa-core processor with a clock speed of up to 2.0 GHz. It also has 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 512 GB with a microSD card.
The camera of the Rephone consists of a dual camera with 64 MP and 8 MP as well as a 16 MP front camera. Video recordings are possible in Full HD 1440p. There are slots for two nano-SIM cards and a memory card of up to 512 GB (MicroSD). Other connections include GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth 5. The replaceable Li-Polymer battery has a capacity of 4500 mAh and offers up to 50% longer lifespan with a preset charging limit. The Rephone also supports wireless charging according to the Qi standard with up to 15 W and PE+ fast charging with up to 18 W.
When it comes to sustainability and environmental protection, the Rephone is very exemplary. The smartphone is manufactured in Germany with the exception of a few individual parts. The packaging is FSC certified and made from grass. The back of the case is made of 100% recycled plastic and is removable so that the removable battery is easily accessible. Screwed components enable easy repairs, but this does not provide IP protection against dust, dirt and water. For everyone who doesn't change their smartphone every year or two: Rephone offers many repair options with fixed repair prices. It also uses resource-saving recycling processes when the product has reached the end of its life.
Overall, the Rephone is a sustainable smartphone that is characterized by its regional approach: It is environmentally friendly in production, uses resource-saving materials and long-lasting components.
Conclusion: Sustainable smartphone alternatives
In this article, we looked at three notable sustainable smartphone options: Rephone, SHIFT6mq and Fairphone 4. All three models rely on durability, repairable designs and the use of fair, environmentally friendly materials. Although there are still few smartphones that are truly sustainable, these manufacturers are showing courage and determination to take this path. And there seems to be an effect: manufacturers like Apple are increasingly trying to reduce the environmental impact of their devices and also rely on recycled, sustainable and fair materials. But the journey to sustainable smartphones is still a long one for well-known manufacturers such as Google, Apple and Samsung. That's why the Rephone, the Fairphone and the Shiftphone are perfect alternatives.