Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainabili Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainability, green tech, AI, and EU policy. With a background in the humanities, she has a soft spot for social impact-enabling technologies.
At a time when the electronics industry is constantly luring consumers into buying the latest and most advanced devices, Amsterdam-based Fairphone has made a name for itself by doing the exact opposite.
Best known for its sustainably-made, modular, and repairable (DIY style) smartphones, the startup is now applying the same ethos to another product segment: headphones.
The newly-launched Fairbuds XL are a pair of over-ear wireless headphones, priced at €249. Much like the company’s smartphones, they’re sold mainly in Europe, although some authorised resellers ship to other parts of the world as well.
The Fairbuds XL come with a 30 hour battery life, 40mm dynamic drivers for sound quality, and active noise cancellation. They also feature a USB-C connector for charging, a 10m Bluetooth range, and smart assistants capabilities.
But their most impressive element is undoubtedly the design. The modular headphones consist of nine components/potential spare parts: battery, speaker to speaker cable, earcap covers, headband, ear cushion, headband base, speakers, and headband cover.
Customers can order any of them on the company’s website or the Fairbuds app, and easily replace or repair parts that are broken or worn over time. The headphones come with a two-year warranty, which means that within this period the components’ cost will be most likely covered by the startup.
To further boost their positive environmental and societal impact, the Fairbuds XL are made with 100% recycled plastics, aluminium, and tin solder paste to the maximum extent possible, while the startup claims it’ll pay $0.55 per headphone to fill the living wage gap of the production line workers.
Fairphone’s overall ethos aligns with the EU’s goal to drastically reduce e-waste and move towards a circular economy by 2050. Upcoming policies such the Right to Repair and the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products could give a significant regional boost to the startup’s approach.
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