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The Fairphone 4 was designed to be taken apart

Unlike most smartphones on the market, the Fairphone is meant to be easy to repair.

The Fairphone 4 was designed to be taken apart

Of the 4.5 billion smartphones now in use, nearly all are difficult to repair–even their batteries are often glued in place. The Fairphone 4, created by a Dutch electronics brand known for responsibly sourcing materials such as conflict-free tungsten and Fairtrade gold, is different: The back pops off without tools, and the parts inside, from the display and battery to the cameras and microphone, can be removed with a screwdriver. “The device is designed so users can take it apart easily,” says Oscar Karlsson, cofounder and design director at Above, the Swedish innovation agency that led the design for Fairphone. It won in the Products category for Fast Company‘s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards.

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Since Fairphone’s parts are under warranty, Karlsson’s team identified components that would be compatible with future software upgrades. Above also elected for a Scandinavian aesthetic that will prevent the phone from looking outdated in years to come. By helping consumers keep phones longer, the product becomes more sustainable (95% of the carbon footprint of a device comes from manufacturing). When the phone is recycled, its modular design makes it simple to disassemble so materials can be reused.

This article is part of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. Explore the full list of companies creating products, reimagining spaces, and working to design a better world.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley

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