I didn’t believe in modular phones until I tried the FairPhone 5. I wish they were all like that

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Improving the features of an Android by simply changing a mobile module is not science fiction: the FairPhone 5 proves it

 

Imagine that your Android camera breaks or you need to repair the screen. The usual thing would be to take it to a technical service, but you could also repair it at home by purchasing the necessary parts. And without notions of technology: If the phone were modular, the process would be almost as simple as building a LEGO. This is exactly what happens with the FairPhone 5: I tried it and I loved its proposal.

Renewing a smartphone by simply changing a module may sound like science fiction, but the truth is that this practice has been with us for many years. The Motorola Moto Z They offered rear modules to enhance specific aspects of the phone. And LG bet heavily on interchangeable elements with the LG G5, a mobile phone whose battery could be changed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, neither of the two brands kept the modules in their catalog, quite the opposite of FairPhone. This manufacturer has managed to find meaning in them.

Does your screen break? you change it

With the progressive miniaturization of components, and the adoption of the unibody finish on smartphones, brands were opting for internal designs that were increasingly less repairable. The rear face is attached to the body with adhesive to promote protection against water (while making disassembly more difficult), unusual screws are often used in assembly and, in general, everything is designed so that Tasks as basic as changing a battery are only within the reach of professionals.

The European Union has set out to change the way in which we repair and update hardware of our electronic devices. And meanwhile, brands like FairPhone already have their homework perfectly done: The new FairPhone 5 looks like a cutting-edge Meccano. Its back cover is removed the old-fashioned way, renewing the battery is as simple as changing the batteries in the TV remote control, and even repairing the screen is within anyone’s reach. The magic is a thing of the modules.

Ten years ago I anticipated the triumph of modular mobile phones and, after the change in strategy in brands like LG or Motorola, I lost hope that the concept of a smartphone that could be updated in hardware and software would be commercially viable. But no: like the Gallic village of Asterix, FairPhone is the irreducible manufacturer who firmly believes that it should be the user who controls everything that happens on their mobile. And without said mobile losing too much appeal to the competition, the FairPhone 5 is even pretty.

Fairphone 5

Something thick and quite heavy, two of the drawbacks that I noticed during my first contact with the FairPhone 5, but nothing that would limit the daily experience. The software was very fluid, I didn’t think it was a bad mobile camera, The guarantee given by the brand is number one on Android (5 years against manufacturing defects and eight years of software) and can be easily disassembled with a precision screwdriver that most of us have at home. I loved the way the phone is designed, also that demonstration that cutting-edge technology can be sustainable.

Cutting-edge technology can not only be sustainable, but also easily repairable

The back cover is released by stretching with your fingers, the battery is removed even more easily, the motherboard comes off by removing a few screws (which also allows the cameras to be released), the speaker and the USB C port are separated as independent modules and Even the screen comes off just by unscrewing it, without a heat gun. Once they are on the table, the FairPhone 5 modules look like LEGO pieces. And this is the demonstration that, with a little will, the rest of the manufacturers could give more life to their products by simply aiming for modularity. Perhaps without going to the extreme of FairPhone, but making it easier to remove key components; like the battery and the screen.

This is a modular mobile

Concepts like Project Ara seemed promising; At least until Google faced commercial unviability and ended up canceling the project. And there is a big problem with modular mobile phones: that the user can update the component that has fallen short. prevents the brand from selling a completely new phone to replace that user’s; which ends up reducing the profitability of the business.

The FairPhone 5 restored my faith in modular mobile phones, I firmly believe that they are a great way for the future. They sacrifice design, high-end features and lightness. In return, They receive a longer useful life, more versatility and better use of natural resources. It’s a shame that the price doesn’t match, because the phone would be an excellent general recommendation if it weren’t at a high-end price.

The FairPhone 5 is a mid-range mobile at a high-end price, but the true value is not its features sheet: it is the guarantee of durability and responsibility

That FairPhone can design, build and distribute a completely modular mobile phone, and give it the greatest hardware and software guarantee seen in a smartphone, makes me think that the rest of the brands could get closer to that responsible philosophy by favoring repairability and improvement in its smartphones. And not because organizations like the European Union force companies: as FairPhone demonstrates, modular mobile phones can be profitable.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise