Modular Smartphones: The New Sustainable Option?

December 13, 2020

On average, a U.S. consumer buys a new smartphone every three years. However, thanks to the recession brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, smartphone sales have dropped between 2019 and 2020. Even with the newly-approved vaccine, many people and businesses are opting for certified pre-owned smartphones instead of new ones to save money. There’s another option available that is gaining in popularity, however: the modular smartphone.

In actuality, modular smartphones are not a new concept, although the newest versions are a much more feasible option, especially in the face of growing consumer awareness of planned obsolescence and the increasing price of new phones. More than 70 percent of consumers in North America have said they think it’s imperative that large brands be environmentally friendly. Considering both the energetic cost of producing a smartphone and the elements necessary to make the hardware that runs it, making a more environmentally friendly and affordable version has been an expected development. The timeline has simply been accelerated by the global pandemic. 

Although previous modular smartphones were not able to gain traction, it’s primarily because they were made for tech enthusiasts who wanted to customize everything themselves. The new modular phones will be different. They allow the average user to fix, maintain and easily upgrade the device. They have easy to replace batteries, biodegradable cases, and are built to last four to five years. 

Fairphone, one of the new modular smartphone producers, has caught the attention of Millennials, long known to be environmentally conscious. Fairphone has the only Fairtrade smartphone on the market. They advocate for worker’s rights, source their materials responsibly and their modular phone has a perfect repairability score from iFixit. They also have the only phone to pass Ethical Consumer’s rigorous testing.

Teracube is another modular smartphone manufacturer to watch. Their Android 10 smartphone costs only $300 and was a finalist for Engadget’s Best of CES 2020. It comes with a four-year warranty, a biodegradable case and easy-to-replace batteries.

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