The Fairphone 4 is an Android smartphone that begs to be dismantled.
Peel off the back cover with your fingernail, and you’ll find colorful patterns and shapes around the interior along with a slogan: “Yours to open. Yours to keep.” Look closer, and you’ll see that each component is held down with only small Phillips screws, facilitating simple repairs. Fairphone says it will cover those components with a five-year warranty and provide basic software updates through 2025.
This is a radical way to build a smartphone, and the Fairphone 4, which costs 579 pounds (about $653), is the company’s highest-end model yet. (Fairphone has no plans to release it in the U.S.) But while the phone succeeds as a statement on sustainability, it’s full of trade-offs as a product, with too many little issues you won’t experience with other phones at similar prices.
Still, those issues have less to do with the Fairphone 4’s repairable nature than with Fairphone’s…