Taking it step by step: An update on the Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds

Originally published at: Taking it step by step: An update on the Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds - Fairphone

Since day one, we’ve been leading the push to empower consumers with viable alternatives to the make-use-dispose trend in electronics. Keeping products in use longer decreases their environmental footprint, therefore easy repairability of products is essential. No surprise that Fairphone fully supports the Right to Repair. It’s a huge part of our mission to change the industry.

In 2013, we started by turning an off-the-shelf product into the most repairable phone simply by offering spare parts and repair guides, that was the Fairphone 1. It wasn’t perfect, but we had to start somewhere. From there, we’ve continually raised the bar by challenging ourselves and the industry by making modular smartphones that are durable and easy to repair. Our design proved that doing something unconventional can deliver significant benefits. It also proved that our chosen path was never going to be a cakewalk. Since then, we’ve come a long way, long shots and setbacks included. It has always been a continuous process towards fairer supply chains and products – And the same holds true today.

Along with the launch of our Fairphone 4 in late 2021, we took a leap of faith into a new category: True Wireless Earbuds. Truth be told, it was a humbling experience that took us back to our beginnings. Essentially, we did our best to find the earbud equivalent to the Fairphone 1; to launch a product that kickstarts our trajectory in the audio segment. The challenge was to find a product that we could get behind from a supplier willing to commit to our impact strategy. Unfortunately, very few remained, and none of the products was highly repairable. This left us with a tough decision to make: Either drop it altogether or stick to our tried and true concept of taking things step by step.

We have risen to the challenge to start into this new segment. We are proud of the work with our new supplier so far: integrating Fairtrade Gold into the supply chain, using 30% recycled materials in the housing of the earbuds and including low voltage charging that increases the battery life up to 800 charging cycles. But like our first steps in the phones segment, it isn’t perfect. For instance, the batteries are not replaceable and the earbuds are not repairable.
In the spirit of transparency, we’ve added this information clearly to our product page because our customers might not be aware of the challenges this new category still brings us and we are working to offer the separated replacement parts in our webshop in the next few weeks. Where do we go from here?

Keep raising the repair bar

As we did with the Fairphone 1 we will continue to raise the bar amongst others improving the repairability. To prove the feasibility of and our support to Right to Repair standards. And we are confident we can get there with the partners, relationships and experience we have now. Stay tuned!

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@carl1 @Johanna_Jackson You might be interested in this part:

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This post is honestly pretty vague. How do I interpret this? It seems the most likely interpretation is “you won’t ever be able to repair the TWE, but we’ll have a more repairable TWE 2 in the future”? Which is kinda what I expected when I got them, but some extra clarity couldn’t hurt :slight_smile:

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Hey Sylvia,

In the end for earbuds we are basically talking about batteries and the possibility to replace them. The rest (PCB and Speakers) would go together with some sort of housing as we have for some phone modules. So at the moment, the main battery of the charging case is not replaceable easily so we will be soon offering the charging case and the earbuds as separated parts available. Of course, our repair center remains available for repair for anything that occurs within the 2-year warranty!

And for the future, as always and as we did with Fairphone 1, we keep developing and improving :slight_smile:

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For instance, the batteries are not replaceable and the earbuds are not repairable.
In the spirit of transparency, we’ve added this information clearly to our product page

Thank you for being transparent about where you are and the challenges you still need to overcome.