Smartphone manufacturers usually tout improved camera features and other specs, but a new player in the US market is banking on social responsibility.
Murena’s Fairphone 4 is made from “fairly sourced and recycled materials” by workers paid a living wage, according to the Dutch manufacturer.
Available in Europe since 2021, the device has now landed in the US, powered by Murena’s /e/ operating system, a modified take on the Android OS that Murena says is designed to protect user privacy.
In a statement, Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens called the launch “a great opportunity for us to pilot selling devices in the US … and learn more about the American market.”
The Fairphone 4’s modular design makes it easy to repair and customize, thereby postponing a full upgrade: The battery is removable, and the camera array, USB-C port, loudspeaker and body are all individual components, with replacement parts available to US customers on the Murena website. The company says repairs can be made with a standard screwdriver.
The phone market has matured to the point where companies don’t really have anything new to offer, Murena CEO Gaël Duval told CNET in an email, “just a few more megapixels on the camera.” (For what it’s worth, the Murena Fairphone 4 features a dual 48MP rear camera and a 25MP front-facing camera.)
“With sustainability and privacy combined, we are answering new and growing market needs,” Duval added. “Who really needs more megapixels while the planet is heating and the climate is changing so fast?”
The Fairphone 4 is the only option in the US market that’s TCO Certified, a sustainability certification for IT products that examines socially responsible manufacturing, environmental impact, user health and safety, product lifetime extension and other factors. It also carries the German government’s Blue Angel label, awarded based on durability, energy efficiency, recyclability and emissions.
The phone doesn’t even come with a USB cord, plug or headphones, as Murena says it wants to encourage customers to use accessories they already have around the house.
Beyond sustainability, the Fairphone is a standout in user privacy. While Google has paid millions to settle data privacy and location-tracking lawsuits, Murena says its /e/ OS is a DeGoogled version of Android.
“We don’t scan your data in your phone or in your cloud space, and we don’t track your location hundred times a day or collect what you’re doing with your apps,” a statement on the company’s website says.
You can still download Google apps if you want, The Verge reported, but Murena claims it snags them directly from the Play Store without giving Google your personal details.
There are some tradeoffs, including the choice of carriers: Using a Fairphone 4 with anyone besides T-Mobile is “is not recommended,” according to Murena.
There’s also the wait. Per the Murena website, the phone is currently only available on backorder.
Pricing for the Fairphone 4 starts at $629 for 128GB of storage or $699 for a 256GB device.