First Ethical Smartphone: Conflict-Free Minerals and Fair-Working Conditions

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

The Fairphone is the first smartphone that puts social values first, built with conflict-free minerals and made in a factory with a worker-controlled welfare fund. Fairphone is a social enterprise based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It started in 2010, and works to uncover the story behind the sourcing, production, distribution and recycling of electronics. They began Smartphone production in 2013, and they require all their manufacturers to meet high labor and environmental standards.

Fairphone recently partnered with The Phone Co-op to marry two of Europe’s most radical and dynamic social enterprises. Together, they are directing awareness of the supply chain in everyday products and they are proud to be sending the message to politicians and manufactures that ethics come first. For this reason, Fairphone works with the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative and the Solutions for Hope Tantalum Project to extract minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the phone is manufactured under a contract that funds a worker-controlled welfare for the return of investments back to the local community. Standards such as use of the micro-USB charging, replacing batteries and two SIM slots are designed with the intention of reducing waste.

The Fairphone is an android phone, and functional worldwide, but optimized for European networks and only sold in Europe at present.


Rachel England, “Phone Co-op brings first ethical smartphone to UK market,” Positive News, November 10, 2014,

Claudia Cahalane, “Fairphone Review: Ethics Trumps Everything Else,” The Guardian, January 15, 2015,

Student Researcher: Suzanne Pinar (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)