The New Fairbuds: Nine things you need to know

Originally published at: The New Fairbuds: Nine things you need to know - Fairphone

Titanium is key: The new Fairbuds feature 11mm titanium-coated drivers for better, cleaner, richer sound. During the development process, we evaluated several different driver types. This was done from both from an objective perspective, measuring and comparing frequency curves and harmonic distortion, as well as a more subjective approach, in the form of listening tests. We zeroed in on titanium as it is low in density but high in strength. That means our earbud drivers remain lightweight and ensure superfast responses, but are also strong enough to resonate high-fidelity, high-quality, crystal-clear audio.

Peak sustainable design: Designing the Fairbuds was a challenge in itself. We wanted to make it as small as possible, make sure the batteries were replaceable, all while still retaining our IP54 sweat and moisture rating. We also wanted to move away from the ‘stick’ design that wasn’t as user-friendly as we liked. Experience told us that modularity usually meant a larger form factor. We used that to our advantage, increasing the size of the earbuds where ergonomics would not be compromised. For the battery, while we did want it to be replaceable, we didn’t want to make the battery holder completely removable as it would run a high risk of getting lost or broken. So we came up with a rotating battery tray, one that was easily accessible by using a screwdriver or even a fingernail. We put a silicone ring around the earbud to secure the tray even further and to prevent any dust or moisture from getting inside. On the white Fairbuds, the silicone ring is transparent, hinting at the modularity inside. While the battery replacement process is not as straight-forward as the Fairphone 4 or 5, the idea is that you would be doing this process once every two to three years. The end result is an absolute stellar example of sustainable design.

Perfect for rainy weather … and the gym: The new Fairbuds come with an IP54 rating, but the case itself does not. The earbuds will therefore be able to withstand a short downpour, or a longer drizzle, as is the case usually in our native Amsterdam. It’s also the perfect companion for a grueling workout. Having said that, it’s not built to go swimming with.

Tough as nails, the Fairbuds are: The Fairbuds have gone through extensive reliability testing to ensure their durability over time. In short, they’re tough. Really tough. That’s why we can confidently offer an extended warranty on them. Considering we don’t currently offer an extended warranty on the Fairbuds XL (at least not yet), it’s already a great step forward for Fairphone’s audio products.

Better-than-industry standard batteries inside: Earbuds in general have a small battery due to their small form factor. And with earbuds that offer active noise-cancelling, the playtime differs enormously. We tested the Fairbuds’ battery life in highly controlled conditions (continuous playback, volume at 50%, 1KHz sine wave on loop— That’s like playing Hotel California on repeat) and the playtime we promise is based on those test results. In general, we have an above average battery capacity (45mAh) compared to many other earbuds. That battery is rated for 500 charge/discharge cycles (to reach 80% remaining capacity). So it also depends heavily on the frequency of use when you should replace the batteries. But if we do some napkin math, you should get up to 2700 hours of listening time before the battery reaches 80% capacity. And like we have kept saying, the moment your battery starts degrading, you can always opt to swap in new ones and keep your Fairbuds going for even longer.

The Fairbuds are possibly the most repairable earbuds in the world right now: The new Fairbuds are our most repairable earbuds yet, possibly the most repairable earbuds in the world as of right now. Compared to the earlier TWS earbuds, the new Fairbuds come with an assortment of other replaceable parts, including the aforementioned replaceable batteries in both earbuds and the charging case. A deteriorating battery is the biggest pain point when it comes to earbuds, and makes all the difference when it comes to device longevity.

The charging case is modular and repairable as well: It’s not just the Fairbuds that’s modular. The charging case is fully repairable too, with the outer shell forming a separate part from the charging case core that contains all its electronics. We also offer single earbuds as replacements on our webshop. The way we see it, the biggest reason why people might want to discard their earbuds is because of degrading battery life, or misplacing one of the earbuds. With replacement batteries and earbuds, this will not be a problem for Fairbuds users.

They are our most sustainable earbuds as well: The new Fairbuds are also the most sustainable earbuds out there, with almost 70% of the weight of the earbuds being made from fair and recycled materials. This includes plastics, gold, silver, cobalt and recycled magnets – a first for Fairphone. We had some challenges when using recycled plastics, especially for the transparent parts. It took us a lot of time and tweaking to get the final design to look just right, because raw, recycled plastic has a very yellowish tint to it. The straightforward (less sustainable) solution was to either go for virgin material, or change our designs from the ground up. Of course, being Fairphone, we went for the latter, and the end result proves it wasn’t a compromise at all.

A brand new Fairbuds app for the brand new Fairbuds: We’ve completely revamped the Fairbuds app to now also support the Fairbuds along with the Fairbuds XL. For the Fairbuds, we went for a more simple approach with the presets, offering our default tuning, a bass boosted profile, and a flat profile. However, compared to the Fairbuds XL, the Fairbuds come with eight adjustable equalizer bands as opposed to five. This also has to do with the chipset we’re using inside the Fairbuds. As with the Fairbuds XL, the Fairbuds app is your one-stop shop to access support articles, tutorials, and learn more about the different modules of your Fairbuds.

Check out the new Fairbuds here, now available for €149.



I’m definitely ordering some later today! (just did :)) Switching over from the Samsung buds live which have started to fail on me.
I do have a question though, why are only SBC and AAC supported when the Fairbuds XL supports AptX? Does the hardware of the fairbuds not support it?


Can the buds be used in only one ear?

I would like to use one while running so I can hear the surroundings for safety reasons.

This would mean that each bud has the ability to connect to a bluetooth device.

With kind regards!


Hello @cryppynl
The buds can be used in only one ear, they can both act as a master.
I usually run with ambient mode on and it works well for me :slight_smile:



Yes, I was also curious about the lack of any other codec besides the standard SBC and AAC. Although, while I can understand why aptX or even LDAC aren’t supported since they’re both proprietary (though, given Fairphone’s relationship with Qualcomm the lack of aptX is still a bit strange), I don’t understand why Bluetooth LE and its LC3 codec aren’t supported, given they’re both royalty-free and open standards as far as I’m aware. While it wasn’t present on Fairbuds XL because they only supported BT 5.1 and BT LE was introduced with BT 5.2, the smaller buds should theoretically support it, since they have BT 5.3 instead. I’m also guessing it could be a hardware limitation, but I don’t know, I’m not an audio engineer, just an audiophile.


Hello @sakloui
AptX is a Qualcomm proprietary codec, and the Fairbuds use a different chipset.
In order to avoid proprietary issues we decided to go with AAC, but we are open to testing and trying different options in the future.



2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Headphone jack is not coming back to Fairphone

Is there a reason for the support app to not be open source?


I hoped so much for a open source App for those … I use Fairphone mainly because i want an de-googled Android without having to flash it myself … therefore i use F-Droid as my appstore.

I won’t sideload any dumb apps just to get the devices to work properly. You guys did so well with Fairphone Open on FP2 and i also love my new FP 5 (with eos) but if there isn’t an open source app for it i will stick with my wired In ears until someone creates in ears with an open source or no app ( I know that the App is not strictly needed but i don’t pay 150€ to not get the whole experience and possibly any firmware updates). Please be those people I’d love to support your efforts but i won’t buy anything bound to a closed source app.


Hi Juan,
Thanks for the answer! Looking forward to see the posibilities of other options or codecs. If you need a beta tester I’m happy to help.


Yeah important parts of the experience being proprietary is becoming a trend unfortunately, see For a Better Camera on deGoogled Operating Systems

Hope we’ll hear something official on this soon.

I hate to be “that guy”, but how do they sound? What is their frequency response like? Heavy bass? Tinny treble? Monitor quality flat?


Well if there where any closed source things in the equalizer app than maybe just get the Firmware Update part into open source … with that alone you could make a step in the right direction and would get feedback (ex how many use this FOSS) as a benchmark to see if it is wanted enough to allocate developement resources into it.

What is the firmware update policy on Fairbuds? That is, for how many years do you plan to continuing updating the firmware as Bluetooth codecs, etc change over time.

Why not reuse some battery form factors? Each product (FP3, FP4, FP5, Fairbuds) has its own battery. For example, the charging case and the Fairbuds XL battery could fit together, at least in terms of size (XL battery is 12mm bigger). :frowning:

Nevertheless, nice thing to try the ear-bud thing a third time. Never give up. :slight_smile:


EDIT : I was advised to add a tl;dr so the rest can be skipped. So:

tl;dr: I hope the fairbuds will be re-programmable. I use the tws-earbuds (the old version) a lot and would really like some features to be changeable. e.g. the functions like the “auto-pause”. What the presses do. The voice that talks. The charge levels and charge speed.
FInally, I hate capacitive buttons, but that’s maybe not everyone.
Otherwise the tws-earbuds do their job. Today I would probably buy the new fairbuds if I was confident all those annoyances could be avoided.
Please make the firmware or at least the control-app FOSS damnit.
Thanks for reading

The full post:
Hi, I’m a very regular user of the tws-earbuds since September on my still barely running FP2, fairphone’s “test-earbuds” before those (see this page for reference: TWS Earbuds | Fairphone ).
I’m very intersested by the new fairbuds, and was planning to give feedback on the tws-earbuds at one stage, but hey, time flies, I’ve had other fish to fry, and the fairbuds are now out.

My tws-earbuds work in a satisfactory way (they basically saved my FP2), but there are some feature that give me literal hate vibes every time I use them. I expect those things to be customisable on the new fairbuds, and if they’re not, nor the control app FOSS (is it confirmed ?), I think you’re missing a great opportunity.

Here’s a more or less exhaustive list of things wrong:

  • Those stupid touch capacitive all surface buttons. Once every 3 times I manipulate the buds, it triggers a “click” of some kind. If this isn’t annoying enough, I can’t press them consistently when they’re in my ears, because I can’t see them, and I can’t just try to find the surface to press with my fingers because if I accidentely touch the surface anywhere it just triggers a press! (annoying e.g. when I sometimes want a long one and not a short one). And then, it’s so slow to trigger ! I have to sometimes spend several seconds just to get the action I want done!!
    So my main question/point is: Why can’t we have regular buttons ? I could aim before pressing. I could press fast. I would not press them by mistake. I could press them with any kind of gloves/handprotection. So, just, whyyyyyy those stupid capacitive surfaces? (note: it’s the first time I ever use something like this, so maybe the design on the new fairbuds is so much better. But I’m not sure I’d believe it.)
    And don’t make me believe the reason is waterproofing, siliconed-waterproof buttons have existed for ages.
  • Not being able to re-configure the presses is really annoying (here for reference: ). I don’t need noise cancelling for example (plus it doesn’t seem to change much) so I’d like to be able to cycle between “normal” and “voice-through” only. And disable the voice-assistant function, and instead have a “skip forward 30 seconds” and “skip backwards 10 seconds” option for podcasts on each side, etc. I have tons of ideas to improve the things.
  • Disable the “auto-pause when removed”. Sometimes it’s useful, but 90% of the time it triggers when I don’t want it. I’d much rather have a “pause” button on each earbud, instead of only on the right side.
  • Disable the talking voice altogether! I don’t need my whole listening experience dimmed by this voice, when a few mild “dup” or “dup dup” could convey the same amount of information to me.
  • Better control of charge levels and speed. If I want to make those last, I’ll want to limit charge at 80% (but maybe you do that already ?), set charge min/max levels, and even further reduce li-ion charge voltage (to make it last much much longer, for a “maximum capacity reduction” I wouldn’t mind. See: BU-808b: What Causes Li-ion to Die? - Battery UniversityNASA reports that once Li-ion passes the 8 year mark after having delivered about 40,000 cycles in a satellite, cell deterioration […] progresses quickly. Charging to 3.92V/cell appears to provide the best compromise in term of maximum longevity, but this reduces the capacity to only about 60 percent” → I be fine with that for earbuds for basically infinite battery duration), etc.

Now I do realise I’m not the only one, see for example:

So I hope I’m not hijacking too much this fairbuds thread, don’t hesitate to move this post elsewhere. But I thought it was a nice opportunity to bring up those issues and push to have them avoided for the fairbuds. I understand for the physical buttons it may be a bit late, but for all the rest please at least just make this app/firmware open-source and let people play with all those options, if you can’t/don’t want to support this level of customisation.

As a conclusion, the tws-earbuds have been mostly usable for me, and done their job. But I now wouldn’t go for another model unless I can test it first, or have enough guarantees that the annoyances above aren’t present.


The Fairbuds page says there is an Android or iOS app for customizing the settings of the Fairbuds. I don’t use Android anymore (and neither iOS). My current phone runs a Debian based OS. Is there a way (API) to adjust the settings without using the provided app?


I struggle to find any information about any charging level indicator (like the four small LEDs on the TWS earbuds) on the case. Anyone with more success there? :thinking:

Perhaps the white spot next to the USB-C port here?



Yes, the white spot on the side of the case is the battery indicator. In the Getting Started with Your Fairbuds video on YouTube, it was explained that if you press the button inside the charging case, the light should turn green if it has between 100-60% battery left, orange if it’s between 60-30%, red if below 30%, and it will blink red if it’s 10% or below. Although, charging status wasn’t explained, I’m guessing that it works in reverse, by changing the colour of the light depending on how much it’s charged (still not sure if it would stay green when 100% charged, only turn green at 100%, or maybe turn the light off when fully charged)

Also, on a similar topic, does anyone know how long does it actually take to charge them? On the product page, it says “Charging time: ~2 hours (case + earbuds)”, but I’m sort of confused as to what that means. Is this how long it takes to charge the case and charge the earbuds at the same time? Well, 2h sounds quite fast for 26h of total battery life. And how long does it take to charge just the earbuds (with case fully charged), and how long does it take to charge just the case (without the buds inside)?