Complex devices need minerals from many countries, and at the far end of those long supply chains are people who get treated very badly. Often these are young children working more than 60 hours per week, digging up minerals or standing up in factories.
The Fairphone 2 wants to do something about this, while also offering you a great smartphone.
In the UK, the public have long demanded that supermarket products like bananas and coffee were Fairtrade, and that eggs come from chickens free to run around.
17,000 people signed up to buy the Fairphone 2, showing the world’s biggest corporations that you can build a decent and ethical phone.
But what about it’s design?
The Fairphone 2 is chunky. With its heavy-duty, hard plastic case on, it’s 11mm thick. But it can survive being dropped from head height.
It has a 5-inch 1080p display, a respectable enough screen with bright colours.
Really, the best thing about the Fairphone 2 is that it’s modular, which means you can replace its parts if they are broken or in need of an upgrade.
The spec is solid: a Snapdragon 801 chip plus 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, two SIM slots and a microSD slot supporting SDXC. Android 5.1 (Lollipop) runs very smoothly.
A few pleasant surprises include gesture controls – swipe in from the right and you access a customisable list of your most-used apps – and a function that automatically moves little-used software into an ‘Idle Apps’ area, quietly disabling them for more efficient use of power.
Battery life is up to a couple of days of intermittent use. And you can also order another battery from Fairphone and swap it in very quickly.
The Fairphone 2’s rear-facing 8MP camera is more commonly found in lower-end Chinese phones. Not great, but maybe swap it for a better one later.
The rear speaker is both pretty terrible, and in the wrong place – on the back, facing out.
By all the normal criteria by which we test mobiles, the Fairphone 2 isn’t all that great. Aside from its interesting modular design, it’s a bit of a brick. But in another, very important sense, it’s the best phone you can buy.