Fairphone Easy: a smartphone subscription for a fairer future

Originally published at: Fairphone Easy: a smartphone subscription for a fairer future - Fairphone

The world needs a new business model. The electronics industry focuses on selling new devices as often as possible to make a profit, driving rapid product life cycles, overconsumption and waste. Fairphone knows that while profit is important, a fairer, cleaner future is most important of all; we must move towards a circular economy that makes the most of the resources we have. That’s why we love longevity and design longer-lasting, easily repairable smartphones – while encouraging others to embrace longevity too. After all, the longer you keep your phone, the lower its environmental and social footprint. That’s where our new business model comes in.

Introducing Fairphone Easy

We are proud to announce the launch of Fairphone Easy, a smartphone subscription service that takes our circular ambitions to the next level. We’re giving users in The Netherlands the option to use our most sustainable and modular phone yet, the Fairphone 4 (in green, with 8GB/256GB), for a fixed monthly fee, rather than buying it.

Fairphone Easy subscribers don’t need to worry about replacing their phone or about fixing it when something breaks. We take care of any maintenance or upgrades needed. Users are also rewarded with lower monthly fees if they take care of and use their phone for longer: for every year the phone stays damage free, the monthly discount increases, rewarding users for taking part in our mission for smartphone longevity.

Is Fairphone Easy more sustainable?

How is a subscription service more circular and sustainable than simply buying a phone, you may wonder? The current business model of our industry sees about 1.4 billion mobile phones sold globally. Users keep their phones for an average of 2-3 years, yet only 15% of discarded phones are collected for recycling. This adds to the growing world’s e-waste problem – and increasing CO2 emissions, as 70% of a smartphone’s lifetime emissions occur during production. The more new phones, the larger the environmental impact. These rapid lifecycles not only have a negative impact on the planet, but also on the people working in the supply chain. The longer a phone (and all its materials) are in use, the lower the impact on people and the planet. Fairphone Easy maximizes the lifetime of our phones and their materials, while ensuring a great user experience and providing a more sustainable business model for the smartphone industry.

What makes Fairphone Easy circular?

Fairphone Easy encourages subscribers to increase the lifetime of their phone by ensuring they enjoy keeping their phone in use longer. If the subscriber stops, Fairphone ensures the phone ‘lives on’ by refurbishing it and giving it to a new subscriber, or re-using the parts to repair another phone. At the end of the phone’s life, Fairphone will make sure it is properly recycled. This way it won’t become e-waste, or end up in a drawer where its valuable materials cannot be utilized.

This business model has been a long-time wish of ours; until now we’ve mostly been working on making the process of designing and producing a phone fairer for people and planet. But, after the customer buys the phone, the process is out of our hands. With Fairphone Easy’s service model, we can now make the phone’s entire life cycle fairer and more sustainable, by encouraging longer use and ensuring its re-use and proper recycling.

Want to know more about Fairphone Easy? You can find all the details here, and if you’re in the Netherlands and in need of a new phone, join us, and become part of the circular solution!

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Attractive: Hopefully you have intentions to offer this elsewhere the UK for example, one day :slight_smile:

I like the idea, but what are the benefits for the customer compared to the 5 year warranty you already get (apart from not having to pay so much upfront obviously)? :thinking:

If I have my math right you pay 996€ for a theoretical 5 year lifespan, assuming you don’t damage your phone in that time and actually get that monthly reduction. After that the phone would go back to Fairphone I guess.

If I buy the same FP4 now, I’d pay 649€ 719€ (with case & screen protector) and also would get warranty related problems fixed for free for the next 5 years and I get to keep, sell or pass on that phone in the end (or recycle it of course if it’s beyond saving).

Do I get the screen replaced for free (you get one per year) or a new phone when I drop it in a lake if I’m subscribed to Fairphone Easy? Otherwise I’m not sure what the value proposition is for that 350€ 280€ upmark (or more since you don’t have a phone once you stop paying).
To be clear I like the idea, from a enviromental, circular economy and fairtrade perspective, I just don’t get who this is for exactly, maybe someone could clear this up.

Edit: Didn’t factor in the case and screen protector as @urs_lesse pointed out. Still quite the upmark, considering you don’t have a phone in the end.

Edit 2: Added info about screen swapping, you get one per year. A stolen phone will set you back 150€ if you report it to police within 72 hours, a phone dropped in a lake will cost the current value of the device.
Additionally if your device makes it to the end of those 5 years without any repairs necessary

You may be subject to a damage fee depending on the state of the device when returned to Us.

After 5 years there is probably going to be some damage to the phone even if you are very careful.
All standard legalese, but I find it problematic that not only don’t you get to keep the phone in the end you might even have to shell out some additional cash to give it back :roll_eyes:

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I would imagine some companies that provide phones for their employees

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You are right, that makes perfect sense for a fleet of company issued phones :+1:
In that case the not paying upfront part really becomes useful.

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I share some of your questions and have only two small things to add.

On top of the value of the FP4 alone, Fairphone also delivers it with a screen protector and a protective case.

Regarding the monthly payments, I’m not sure how to exactly interpret the smallprint (section 7.2). Originally, my take was (in complete alignment with your math and your sum of 996 €) that the monthly rate would develop like this in the (first) five years (assuming no repairs requested from Fairphone’s side): 21 € / month (1st year), 19 € (2nd year), 17 € (3rd year), 13 € (4th year), 13 € (5th) year. Now what I am not sure anymore right now is the fifth year rate. Going by section 7.2, there might be another reduction (by 4 € / month? by 2 € / month?). But it might just stay on the 4th year rate ultimately.

To save others the calculating, the maximum total for five years if you keep requesting repairs through Fairphone (every single year) is 1260 €.

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It may be worth, after 5 years, of allowing the ‘user’ to keep the phone

Did you account for time value of money? Your 719€ today has more value than 719€ in 5 years, especially with current euro inflation rate of 8.1%.

Welcome to the community :wave:

I didn’t account for inflation but I didn’t factor in the phone you get to keep either.
The numbers were only ever meant as a quick guesstimate mainly to make sense of it myself. I had hoped that a Fairphone employee would fill in the blanks for a change :man_shrugging:

good idea, but all too complicated

Here a report in German

https://www.golem.de/news/fairphone-easy-fairphone-monatsabo-enthaelt-saemtliche-reparaturen-2206-166179.html

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They didn’t factor in case and screen protector either, I feel vindicated :smirk:

The concept seem to be very similar to what Commown is offering who also have a cooperarion with Fairphone under Fairtec…I think its even a bit more expensive, but for sure they have to prepay the devices, keep replacement modules and devices and pay the people assisting with issues…

Who is willing to pay at least 350, € more and is willing with his money to throw himself, he should do it.
I have to pay attention to my money.
fair or not

Thats how deferred payment works and in this case you have kind of an insurance included with 150€ deterrent fee, this all costs money. Not everyone has the money at once and might be happy to get the opportunity to still be able to use a Fairphone… If I dont have enough money to buy a new car I also pay more over the years.

If I don’t have enough money to buy something, I let it be. :wink:

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If someone can’t afford to pay for a Fairphone upfront sudden unexpected costs like 150€ for a stolen phone or 80€ for the second screen to replace in one year might still be a huge problem.
And you only get the “cheap” 21€ / month rate if you commit to 5 years, not generally what I would recommend to people in precarious situations (not that I’m qualified to make any recommendation, mind you).
I don’t think there’s a social aspect to this offer, at least not on the consumer side, on the fairtrade side of course there is.

Leasing something really makes senses for companies who benefit from spreading out costs over multiple years even if it amounts to more money spent, most consumers don’t.

That’s true, but you have a car at the end (if you’re financing not leasing it), with Fairphone Easy you don’t have a phone after those 5 years.

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i won’t deny the uncertainty as to what happens after the first five years. Maybe Fairphone will decide later what to offer those who really went the whole five year path with them in this program.

However, I also think it is not so crystal clear what is the most desirable path after the five years for the subscriber: Fully own the phone, but lose all the benefits of the program? Or stay in the program for a low rate? (it might continue to decrease in the sixth year, not clear yet either) Let’s bear in mind that a 5 y.o. phone is probably more likely to require repairs and replacement parts than on day one.

I’m not even so sure what the better deal for Fairphone would be.

We can’t know what they’ll change going forward.
But as far as I can tell the current ToS only mention your obligation to give them the phone back or renew your subscription.

I try to not be overly optimistic when it comes to future developments, especially if it involves me entering into a contractual agreement. Why would the other side suddenly change the rules for my benefit, as I said in another topic Fairphone are still a business after all.

So all I can do is judge it on the information I have at this moment and from that standpoint I can’t see the use case for the general consumer (but certainly for companies).

If you compare this subscription with the mobile contracts including phones (I only know from Germany), then depending on the phone people pay 10 - 20 € a month more for a 2 years contract (for expensive phones they have to pay a few hundred Euros initially extra).
In the end they may keep the phone but beside normal manufacturers warranty, all external damages on the phone are the users problem.

If you have such a subscription and for example break your display, you have to fix it yourself (and you know how much this might cost for non-Fairphone phones) or you don´t have a working phone anymore but still have to pay until the end of your subscription.

So, the Fairphone subscription is better in that regard, that it really lowers your risk, for just a few hundred Euros more. At least it´s a very good offer for these clumsy people, which drop their phones on the floor all of the times. :grin: