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The ‘Fair Trade’ Smartphone Now Has an Upgradeable, Modular Camera

We all know that’s the main reason to upgrade.

Kaleigh Rogers

Kaleigh Rogers

Image: Fairphone

We all know one of the biggest motivators to get a new smartphone is upgraded specs on a new phone's camera. But what if you could upgrade the camera without having to buy a whole new phone? In an effort to reduce waste, Fairphone now offers exactly that.

Launched in 2013, Fairphone bills itself as a more ethical smartphone company, which includes being transparent about where it sources its minerals (which, it admits, still aren't 100 percent conflict free), and encouraging users not to update their model if they don't need to. The company's second generation phone, which launched last year, has always been designed to be modular, but the camera is the first core function upgradeable by users.

The original model comes with a 8 megapixel rear camera with single flash and a 2MP front camera. Users can now get a 12MP rear camera with double flash for €45, or a 5MP front camera for €30—or both for €70. Fairphone is still only available in Europe, with no plans to expand to the US in the immediate future.

It's not just more economical for customers, but it's also less wasteful. Fairphone recently commissioned a life cycle assessment from a research firm, which found that allowing users to upgrade or repair pieces of their phone reduces CO2 emissions by 30 percent over the lifetime of the phone, compared to other devices.

Each generation of smartphone has made significant upgrades to camera specs, making photos you posted on Instagram four years ago look like they were snapped with a potato in comparison to today's crisp shots. Other, bigger manufacturers have announced modular smartphones before, but few have actually reached the market. Swapping out the camera would make life easier and more environmentally friendly, and, finally, it took a small manufacturer to prove it was actually possible.

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