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Why it’s worth the effort to take good care of your phone

Originally published at: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2019/12/19/why-its-worth-the-effort-to-take-good-care-of-your-phone/

Imagine you’re cycling to work, minding your own business, and suddenly, your tire goes flat. What do you do? Do you drive your bike straight to the landfill and start shopping for a new one? Of course not. The smart thing to do is simply repair or replace your tire – the rest of the bike is completely fine.

While nobody would trash an entire bike because of some minor damage, people do the same thing with phones every single day. For many of us, if the speaker breaks or the headphone jack goes wonky, it’s time for a new phone. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With some extra effort from us to make phones easier to repair, combined with a little more work from you to keep your phone in good shape, it’s possible to treat phones with the respect they deserve and keep them running for much longer.

Our commitment: Making phones repairable

In our last blog post in this series, we gave you a quick introduction to how phones are made, and how, at Fairphone, we’re doing things differently. That same approach applies to maintaining phones – we’re coming up with new ways to make our devices, and the precious materials inside them, last longer.

One of our most important achievements is making our phones repairable. That starts with the design. Most phones are difficult to fix because they’re difficult to open. There’s no way to quickly take it apart to see what’s wrong. To reverse this trend, our phones are designed to be easy to open, with modular parts that are easy to remove. And you don’t need any special skills – just a screwdriver and two hands will do the trick. So, when just one part in your Fairphone breaks, you can replace that specific part instead of the entire phone.

 The end of your battery does not have to be the end of your phone. With a Fairphone, you can easily order a new one and replace it.

In a perfect world, we would keep selling spare parts for as long as our customers need them. However, our ambitions don’t always align with reality. While we’re still manufacturing a phone, it’s pretty easy to get parts – we just order what we need to make the phones, plus extra to cover repairs. But things get more complicated when we stop producing a model of our phone. We go to extreme lengths to keep our models going as long as possible, but the overall lifetime of a phone is still limited by its chipset. At that point, we need to carefully estimate and order enough parts to cover years of repairs, but also ensure that we don’t end up with a huge pile of unused parts that might end up as e-waste. In addition, as technology evolves, manufacturers eventually stop making certain components. So as much as we’d like to, it’s not yet possible to supply spare parts indefinitely.

Here’s where you come in: Treating your phone with care

We’re changing how phones are made and repaired, but if you want your phone to last longer, part of the job also falls to you! It starts by changing how you think about your phone, and realizing that it’s a valuable tool worth treating with care. Next, you’ll need to put in a bit of effort. But it’s all quite painless – we promise! Here are a few practical ways to help make sure your phone will be your faithful companion for years to come.

 Together, we can make your Fairphone last longer.
  • Repair it. If something goes wrong, your first thought should be: Is it repairable? If you have a Fairphone, there’s a good chance you can fix it yourself, but if you don’t, stop by a local repair shop and scope out the options.
  • Upgrade it. First, the software! Check if there’s an update available for your operating system. That’s often all you need to fix buggy behavior. And keep an eye out for module-upgrades in the future as well 😉
  • Power up. Batteries often die long before your phone is worn out. If your battery life is slowing you down, it might be time for a new one.
  • Switch your SIM. If you’re having issues calling and texting, try replacing your SIM card – it’s a quick (and cheap!) fix.

If you want even more ideas, have a look at some other tips we shared earlier this year.

Why does all this matter?

At Fairphone, we like to say that the most sustainable phone available is the one you already own. Because the majority of every phone’s CO2 footprint happens during the production phase, the longer you keep your phone, the more you’re reducing its environmental impact. If we each do our part, together, it’s possible to change how we think about and use our phones – plus be kinder to our planet in the process.

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Indefinitely is too much imho, but 5-10 years for some, 10-20 years for other things. I always consider - the higher the price of purchase was, the longer it should last or be able to be fixed or replaced by the manufacturer.
So I think governments of industrialized states should put much more energy into this and force companies to focus more on longevity.
Actually I can recall two more manufacturers that develop and manufacture their goods with a strong focus on longevity and spare parts availability.
Miele and Tefal, the latter specifically prints onto all of its boxes a clear statement - spare part availability guaranteed for at least 10 years.
That’s what we need more often. Not considering the price of purchase first and rather buy new every few years but also calculating what makes more sense. Pay more and have a more robust, better developed part for which it in some years may still be worth to get it repaired as spare parts are available. Or maybe never having to even replace a part as the object is still operating flawless.
AMC (American Metal Crafts) sell their goods with lifetime (~30 years) warranty. Well…maybe start purchasing in younger years and if there are kids or other relatives to pass them on.:wink:
WMF done so for several decades too. Related to the Wiki page this probably will change in the near future… :worried:
Longevity is possible in many ways, it’s just not the first thought and obviously also not the last thought in many heads.

Reedit: Linked “WMF/Wiki” to the German Wiki page as certain details are not mentioned in the English version. (Quite an offset…)

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