Fairphone is launching an eco-friendly phone subscription program you’ll actually want
It covers repairs and is intended as a contribution to the circular economy
These days, subscriptions are available for nearly every consumer product we could imagine, increasingly replacing traditional ownership. Not only can you subscribe to own the latest and greatest Android phones, but also cars, bikes, tablets, even things as silly as headphones or game console controllers. While Samsung, Apple, and Google offer already all have subscriptions for their phones, the latest company to jump on the bandwagon might be slightly unexpected. Fairphone is now offering its latest product as part of a “Fairphone Easy” subscription to those living in its home market, the Netherlands. Although it’s probably not available to you, it’s still an interesting approach.
As the company announced on its blog today, Fairphone Easy does things a little differently than others. Subscription is available from €21 per month when you subscribe for five years, but the longer you keep your phone damage-free, the cheaper it will be. There are three different tiers of rewards for keeping your device in good shape for one, two, and three years, with two, four, and eight dollars off the monthly price, respectively.
With Easy, Fairphone also offers free repairs and replacements, and the idea is quite interesting. When a subscriber reports damage, they will receive a refurbished replacement within 48 hours. The broken device is then returned to Fairphone, and the company will assess the damage and repair it or use working components as spares for further repairs. The repaired phone will then be given to another subscriber along with a broken phone, creating a circular motion between subscribers.
The subscription itself offers a green Fairphone 4 with 256GB of storage with a pre-applied screen protector and case included (damage is only covered while in use). Subscribers also get a lifetime warranty on the device. Depending on the shelf life of the phone, however, the subscription benefits can cost you dearly. The 60-month plan at €21 per month will end at around €996 instead of the €649 you’d pay upfront for a Fairphone 4 when you never break your rental device – and when you break it repeatedly , you could end up paying over $1,200, almost the price of two units. In a sense, you end up paying for the repairs. Free product upgrades to a new model are also not included.
The idea behind this circular approach to smartphones is certainly noble, but it’s clear there are still downsides at this early stage. This plan is probably best for people who want to support Fairphone’s circular approach beyond a one-time purchase or prefer to have a predictable monthly outlay rather than potential unexpected repair costs down the road, not those looking to pinch every penny.