What does "fair" mean to you?


Since there has been some discussion about what “fair” really means, I wanted to open this topic to work out what you fellow Fairphone users think about this. Maybe we can even settle on a common statement, which we can make public, e.g.: “For the Fairphone community “fair” means…”

To me “fair” means to live my life on such terms as to not exploit other people. I don’t want prosperity if it is built upon exploitation.

Have a nice day,


Thanks for the effort. I doubt we will be able to make a common statement like that, since that would actually require a consensus, not a majorities.

For me, the definition of fair is very broad, depending on context. For the “fair” in "Fair"phone i also thought of it related to the “Fair” in “Fairtrade”.

In trade, there can be situations were one partner is much more powerful then the other. This is usually due to no equal access to markets or information or “unfair” regulation or unbalanced dependence. For example, if it is vital for one party, like a small coffee bean producer, to sell the products now to make living and feed himself/family while the other has such a wide array of sources that he can dictate the rules, because he does not need the beans as much as the other party needs to sell it, such trade relationships often get exploited.

I think this is happening in the production of as well as sourcing for todays electronics, the smartphone being an icon here.

To me, the fair is not targeted at me, in the same way as a fair coffee not necessarily tastes good. The difference here is that i have choice: There is great deal of coffees available, lot’s fair traded, and i as consumer have an choice. I am powerful in that the market produces what people what to buy (as long as this number is great enough, more to that later). Even more so, i coffee is not required for my wellbeing, it is not strictly vital to me (some of you might disagree here ;-)). If there is no coffee i like, i don’t have to buy one.

Still, Fairtrade coffee should taste good, obviously. The difference is that “taste” is subjective, as well as requirements for smartphones. I therefore would like to refrain from branding the Fairphone as “fair” or “unfair” to it’s buyers, as long as there are no false promises. And even here, one could argue, we have customer protection laws that are more powerful that everything miners can use. If the Fairphone promises feature A and does not deliver A, you can return it. If a company promises to buy a mineral for price X from a miner, and the decides that it does not what to pay that price anymore for example, it might the miner is not force to sell for that price by law, but in fact he is: Because it vital for survival for example.

Our existence are not in danger because the Fairphone does not work as we wished for. And even more, as i wrote above, that we expect is quite different and so could be the interpretation when Fairphone treats it customers “fair”: For some, no Google Apps and “superuser access” could mean reduced usability , which can be perceived as unfair as well as the exact opposite. This, again, is a reason for not overusing “fair” here.

  1. Fair to the workers who extract resources.
    Good working conditions and payment.
  2. Fair to the workers who assemble the units.
    Good working conditions and payment.
  3. Fair to the workers who ship the units.
    Good working conditions and payment.
  4. Fair to the users who use the units.
    No false promises. Good quality of the units. Good support.
  5. Fair to the environment.
    Use recycled maretials, Extend life of the units.Collect and recycle broken units.

I completely agree with @ben on this issue!

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You are right. I agree with u .

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For me, the most important aspect about FairPhone still is awareness.
Me personally, I wasn’t aware of much that went into producing a phone beyond what I read about the situation at Foxconn.
Through FairPhone I have learned a great deal about this and I have been able to talk about this with people in an informal way. Lets not forget that FairPhone’s initial goal was exactly this: raise awareness about the issue. The phone was little more than a means of charting the supply lines and learning about the process. I’d say that FairPhone has done pretty well in that aspect.

I find it slightly saddening to see that somewhere down the line, the community has made FairPhone to be all about the phone itself. Everything is reasoned from this egotistical view where everything revolves around the end user. Sure, the end user is important too and pretty vital to the success of FairPhone, whatever their goals. However, I find that if you feel you have been done wrong by FairPhone because you’re not getting Android 4.4 or Android 5 on there, then please take a step back, look at the fantastic work FairPhone has done in the far more important areas of worker wellness, conflict minerals and raising awareness. Also take a step back and look at the current Android ecosystem where more than 50% of the phones are still running Android Jelly Bean so having Android 4.2.2 on there shouldn’t be all that bad, certainly not because there still is some measure of control that FairPhone has over stuff like security fixes through FairPhone OS updates.

Also, let the realization kick in that you’ve bought one of the most complex pieces of consumer technology available right now from a company that consisted of a handful of people that never made or sold mobile phones before, who had an operating budget of virtually nothing. It’s pretty naive to think that everything would go perfectly, especially considering the immensely complex supply lines, from the mines in Congo all the way to the end user. It’s something we easily take for granted, because you can order just about any phone from countless sites on the Internet and it’ll arrive on your doorstep the next morning, but it’s exactly this habit of taking such things for granted that FairPhone is trying to expose.

Do I think FairPhone should have done some things in a different way? Yes I do.
Are there still things I’m disappointed about? Yes there are.
Do I consider FairPhone to be a failure? Absolutely not.


Hadn’t read your post before I submitted my own.
Well worded and the fair trade coffee is a good example.

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To me, “fair” is rooted in reciprocity. That is, to not do unto someone else that which you would not want done unto yourself.

I believe this translates quite well into what Fairphone is trying to achieve:

  • People generally prefer decent working conditions, with decent wage for their labor. So don’t force (directly or indirectly) the people who mine the minerals for your phone, or who are involved in assembling it, into conditions you yourself would find unacceptable.
  • People generally don’t like being lied to, or being made false promises, or being otherwise “forced” into spending time and/or money to replace a tool that should still be perfectly operational. So be honest in selling your products, in what they / you can and cannot do, and stand by your products even (especially) if things “go wrong”.