Fairphone 1 No Longer Supported Because Parts Cost Too Much

Many have tried to make the modular smarpthone dream come true, but they all did things differently. Project Ara was closest to that image of a modular phone, while both LG and Motorola interpreted the dream more as modular addons. A less known variation was that of the Fairphone, which saw modularity as equivalent to repairability, where individual parts can be replaced when broken. But like Ara and LG, Fairphone is half-conceding defeat, retiring its first smartphone because spare parts are no longer available.

The Fairphone one has actually been around for four years now and has been supported up until now, which is far longer than any OEM offers. That's not exactly surprising considering the main selling point of the Fairphone is that you can use it as long as you want. If anything gets broken, you can repair just that part and keep on going.

As nice as it sounds, it is a system that is beholden to the availability of spare parts. Unfortunately for Fairphone, its first try, while successful, didn't exactly take that into account. Or rather, it didn't foresee its manufacturing partner getting out of the business, leaving it at the mercy of other suppliers who naturally demand higher prices for these older components.

So is the modular/repairable smartphone dream flawed to begin with? Well, not quite. Fairphone itself admits that it had to make some compromises in the first Fairphone. Back in 2013, its priority was to source conflict-free materials and not on future-proofing the phone. So they, instead, "stamped" an existing design, which has now come to haunt them.

Fairphone, however, hasn't given up. It is still making and supporting the Fairphone 2 which was designed specifically to address the first generation's critical flaw. It uses Fairphone's own design so that, even if a specific component vanishes, they can always modify things to use newer equivalents.

SOURCE: Fairphone