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What is the 2nd most "fair" phone (for US customers)?

Hello all,

As if it had a mind of it’s own, my phone nearly died this weekend. It is limping along, but the battery life is laughably short… It’s time for a new phone.

Given that I live in the US, the Fairphone is not an option for me, but I do want to buy products that treat workers (both in the factory and in the supply chain) with dignity. Does anyone have an idea (or opinion?) about which phone manufacturer is “next best” when it comes to labor conditions?

I was able to find this:

But I have no idea how reliable this data is, and it is quite light on specifics. But without more info, it looks like I’m heading towards a Huawei or an LG?

If anyone out there has more info, I’d love to know!

Thanks,

Joe

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Hey!

First of all: If you really want to be as fair and sustainable as possible and/or have the least (environmental, social) impact, I would argue that the best choice always is to get a second-hand phone. In this aspect, I would say, it’s even “better” than buying a new FP2, though there might be other aspects/reasons to buy an FP2 (e.g. to support Fairphone to increase visibility of the project and awareness about the subject -> to change the industry in the long run).

As (unfortunately) there are so much people out there switching their phones quite often, it shoud be fairly easy to find a second-hand phone (even a powerful with good specs if you need it).

If a second-hand phone is no option for you (for whatever reason), choosing the right phone (or company first) depends a lot on the criteria you apply. The site you cited has mostly “soft” or “passive” criteria about what the companies are engaging for (or not) or how transparent they are (e.g. to publish an environmental report is transparent, but it does not tell anything about how environmental-friendly the company actually is - this could also be (and is often enough) used as greenwashing; to have a code of conduct is nice, but tells nothing about the content and so on). I don’t want to downvote these criteria, but the main criteria you wanted to focus on are not included there and I am too missing those other criteria concerning the effects of their core business and production process, i.e. labour treatment, environmental impact of the production, origin of raw materials, repairability and longevity (hard- and software and support of these) of the end product and similar stuff.

There are also other sites with rankings of electronics companies (and there are surely even more I don’t know of (internet search might help)):

http://rankabrand.org/electronics and its Sustainable Electronics Report 2014
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/Cool-IT-Leaderboard/6th-Edition/
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/cool-it/Campaign-analysis/Guide-to-Greener-Electronics/
http://www.hightech-rating.ch/ (unfortunately only in German and French)

According to the first one, Huawei and LG are apparently rather bad choices. But I’ve not studied them in detail and don’t know their criteria either, so I can’t recommend anything. After a short skim, they seem to have quite some soft criteria as well (probably the report has more details). I don’t know how the greenpeace sites behave in this context.

Anyway, take a look at the links, if you like. If you do so, please report back what you’ve found out, because this might also be helpful to others!

@All: There may also be other useful sites out there concerning this subject? I’d also be really interested to see them. I guess, there are even forum topics about this I am not aware of.

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I think it cannot be so long anymore, until they announce that they offer the Fairphone in the US. Look at this:

[Highlight by me, Source]

If you want to know the latest time line, you should contact them. In case you find out something new, I’d be very interested in what they say!

In the meantime I advice you to get a second-hand smartphone (as @tphysm suggested above). There is no fair phone yet in the US (at least none that I know of).

Well i would choose moto x, i still have one.
OK it’s Lenovo know, but i think it’s nearly fair. :slight_smile:
Moto x has got a quit big battery-life. Huawei is nice because the used to be cheep but they have a good camera.

Well it’s about Motorola solutions but…

If you wish to be fair in a social way LG mayed be the right one, i heard the company (the mobile part) nearly died once, LG does his job quit good, i never had a better TV then my LG. (3rd in my live, since 1987).
Well it doesn’t say mutch, but Form my IT knowledge, i know the best are: Philipps (CRT), Samsung and LG. :wink:

So filally i would say: Motorola or LG (they have also apps to contoll LG products, like TV etc.)

PS. Or ask one if he would ship you the FP2 :wink:

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Hey tphysm,

Thanks for the thoughts! I’ve considered 2nd hand phones, but I have done that before, and it has been an underwhelming experience. 2nd hand phones are certainly not a bad idea, but I have found the long term quality to be hit-or-miss, and the time cost of switching phones is a big pain. That said, I’m not against the idea, I just prefer the hop from new phone to new phone, as infrequently as possible.

That being said, buying a FP2 is my ideal scenario. I very much agree with the mission to build/show demand for an ethical smartphone, and I’d like to be a part of that. Buying a used phone, while ethical, does not show the “market” that I make purchasing decisions based on ethics. Paying for a FP2 accomplishes that. I just wish they were available for US consumers :slightly_smiling:

Thanks for the links. They seem to be more focuses on environmental impact and sustainability, whereas I am more concerned about current-day labor conditions of the people who make my phone possible. Certainly not anti-environment, just not my most pressing concern.

Joe

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Hey Stefan,

I’ve read their statement before, but 2016 is a HUGE time frame! Additionally, the longer we wait, the more outdated the specs become.

I just reached out to the FP support team. I doubt they’ll tell me something they haven’t told the community, but if they do, and they’re OK with me making it public, I’ll post it here.

Joe

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Hello Hecki,

I also have a Moto X! I got it because it was made in the US, and I deemed that to be my best option at the time (a country with union and labor protection laws is better than one without…). Sadly, they have moved manufacturing out of that locale, so it’s no different from a labor perspective than anything else. Good to hear they are making an effort in the conflict free space though.

Joe

A post was merged into an existing topic: Project Ara x Fairphone

Just use any used phone for the minimum. Try to avoid being locked in. For everything else use a used laptop. Smartphones right now are a pretty big lie. It’s all about buying stuff and selling your data. If you don’t fall for that trap, the more “fair” you are. Try to use the smartphone less … the better it is. It’s like driving a car or flying. Try to minimize it, live local, chat global if you can and don’t lie to yourself. Every new thing will waste resources and energy. The less you need the better it is. There is no sustainable green economy. Economy (and that’s basically all the smartphone business is right now, it’s not just a little “laptop”) needs growth. And growth needs energy and resources. So I guess … go used, use less … it’s the best.

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While I agree that a used phone is probably your “fairest bet”, the report that can be found here also gives a lot of insight into the practices of various different companies. It’s from 2014, so things have probably changed a bit since then, but at least it gives a very detailed overview of which questions should be asked and how big, mainstream companies were doing on those issues 2 years ago. It’s a start and I’m hoping that the authors will provide an update at some point like they did for their reports on textiles, where the 2012 version was recently updated with a 2015 version.

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Looking at the report, I guess there is no such company. I would focus on buying a used phone that has still updated software available. An extra bonus for the phone if it can be rooted and has an easy to replaceable battery. So I guess a Nexus, Apple or Samsung. And these are also the companies that ended up high on the list, but there are lots of (older?) stories about these companies still using materials from “bad” sources “unknowingly”.

And I wouldn’t buy a Sony just because they don’t care about their customers at all.

They are practically the only company giving you an official way to root your phone and officially install a free AOSP Android ROM. I would call this “caring for the customers”, and it’s the reason my next phone may be a Sony.

I know. I also know that their programmers work hard for that goal. But just check Sony’s history … their management will do it again and ruin all their work. But if you get a used Sony Z* (or one of the Firefox OS phones …Z3) … why not.

Just found a website where the ranking comprise quite a specific list of criteria and how well the company is fairing.
https://rankabrand.org/electronics/ASUS

Hey Joe!
Good question. I’ve thought about that too, because Fairphone is not a realistic option for me in the US (because it’s limited to 2G or 3G network coverage). I took a look at these criteria:

  1. Rankings on three consumer guides
  2. Repairability
  3. OS upgrades and longevity.
  4. Material sourcing (particularly cobalt, which was examined by Amnesty).
  5. General company sustainability

I came to the conclusion that LG is perhaps the 2nd most fair phone. You can read about my reasoning here: https://greenstarsproject.org/2017/03/08/ethical-cell-mobile-phone-impact/

I did eventually buy an LG phone and am completely happy with it. I wrote a “Green Stars” review that considers social and environmental impact. You can read the review here: https://greenstarsproject.org/2017/11/07/ethical-cell-phone-lg-review-sustainability/

There’s probably only one company (Fairphone) that currently deserves 5/5 green stars. I think LG deserves 4/5 green stars and Samsung would perhaps get my lowest rating (1/5 green stars).

Hope this helps!
James

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Couldn’t agree more! Bring fairphones to the U.S. California alone has more rich ethical consumers that will buy more fairphones than all of Europe. Just look at Prius and Tesla sales…

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