Fairphone introduces user-repairable wi-fi headphones

At a time when the electronics industry is constantly enticing consumers to buy the latest and most advanced gadgets, Amsterdam-based Fairphone has made a name for itself by doing just the opposite.

Best known for its sustainably-made, modular, and repairable (DIY-style) smartphones, the startup is now applying the same ethos to a different product segment: headphones.

The newly introduced Fairbuds XL are wireless over-ear headphones priced at 249 euros. Much like the company’s smartphones, they are primarily sold in Europe, although some authorized resellers also ship to other parts of the world.

The Fairbuds XL feature a 30 hour battery life, 40mm dynamic drivers for sound quality and active noise cancellation. They also have a USB-C port for charging, a Bluetooth range of 10m and smart assistant features.

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But their most impressive element is undoubtedly the design. The modular headphone consists of nine components/potential replacement parts: battery, speaker-to-speaker cable, earcup covers, headband, ear cushions, headband base, speaker, and headband cover.

The components of the Fairbuds XL. Photo credit: Fairphone

Customers can order any of these on the company’s website or via the Fairbuds app and can easily replace or repair any parts that have broken or worn out over time. The headphones come with a two-year warranty, which means that within that period, the cost of the components will most likely be covered by the startup.

To further increase their positive impact on the environment and society, the Fairbuds XL are made from 100% recycled plastic, aluminum and tin solder paste, and the startup says it pays $0.55 per earphone to make the Closing the living wage gap of production workers.

Fairphone’s overall ethos is in line with the EU’s goal to drastically reduce e-waste and move to a circular economy by 2050. Future policies like the right to repair and eco-design for sustainable products could give the startup’s approach a significant regional boost.

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