The first prototype of the Fairphone, which has been developed by a team in The Netherlands, will be shown at the London Design Festival next week.
Fairphone’s makers say they use conflict-free materials and aim to ensure that every worker in the phone’s supply chain receives a fair wage.
Fairphone chief executive Bas van Abel says, ‘As a designer, it disturbs me that no-one in the world truly understands how a mobile phone is made, and when you don’t understand how something is made you can’t change it.’
The phone uses tin from conflict-free mines in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo and tantalum from separate conflict-free mines in the DRC’s Katanga province.
Fairphone says the first phones are being made in a factory in China, where the company has created a fund to improve workers’ wages and open discussion between workers and their employers.
The phone has also been developed to be adaptable for each user, with dual SIM, removable batteries and the option to use any operating system.
Money from each phone’s sale is being used to support Closing the Loop, a programme that encourages the reuse and recycling of phones across the world.
The phone itself is described by Fairphone as ‘high-performance’ and features 16GB of internal memory, a 4.3’ touchscreen display, dual front and rear camera and comes with the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. Each phone costs 325 euros (£275).
The Fairphone project launched earlier this year, with an aim to pre-sell 5000 phones in order to start production. Having met this target, Fairphone is now aiming to produce a further 20 000 with pre-orders running until this autumn.
Fairphone began as a research project at Amsterdam’s Waag Society, and institute for art, science and technology, and has also been supported by Action Aid and Schrijf-Schrijf.