At present, millions of dollars are earned by armed groups in eastern Congo by selling conflict minerals. They use this money for buying more weapons, which are used for brutal violence to continue controlling the mines. The minerals that they trade end up in electronics such as mobile phones and laptops. Dutch firm FairPhone intends to change this situation with their new smartphone made with conflict-free tin and tantalum.
They have met their goal of 5,000 pre-orders for the device which will start to ship within Europe this October. The handset, with dual-SIM support for GSM networks, features a 4.3-inch screen, a quad core CPU, an 8 MP cam, 16GB of internal storage, and an almost stock Jelly Bean, though you can go for any other OS.
Those specs are certainly not the best out there, but their intention is to spread the message for more ethically made electronics. The handset is repairable and they have used materials from artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are not run by armed groups. Though the device is not 100% conflict-free, due to the complexities of supply chains, this is surely a good start. They might even be able to launch the device with a case made of recycled plastic.
And the company also cares for those who make the device. They have promised a “living wage” and improved overall working conditions for factory workers who assemble the phone.
If interested, you can pre-order the device here. It costs €350 (about $458). For each phone sold, €3 will go to Closing The Loop, a UK-based foundation which aims to maximize electronics recycling.