Fairphone’s new wireless earbuds you can repair yourself

Mike Powers
Fairphone’s new wireless earbuds you can repair yourself

I’ve always been interested in Fairphone, the technology company heavily invested in sustainability when it comes to manufacturing devices like phones and headphones. Now, the company has another audio product that challenges the idea that you can’t repair these devices yourself.

In a press release, the company announced the Fairbuds, its new wireless earbuds that you can actually repair yourself. Repairability is built so deeply into the product that swapping a battery is incredibly easy — in a pair of wireless earbuds! That’s an impressive feat, especially since Apple’s AirPods are a nightmare to try and repair.

Fairbuds in White.

Reinier Hendriks, CEO of Fairphone, said in a statement that the goal of the Fairbuds is to bring more sustainability to the audio market and that the earbuds feature “70% fair and recycled materials.” The CEO also noted that 70% of Fairbuds XL customers — the company’s over-the-ear headphones — were new to the brand, so there’s a real opportunity to introduce more customers to the company with the earbuds.

“With the launch of the Fairbuds, we are leading the industry by example yet again. We are combining premium quality and longevity, bringing sustainability to the audio segment. The Fairbuds we are launching today are built to last and are made with 70% fair and recycled materials. We provide a unique extended three year warranty as well, to help extend the use of the earbuds for as long as possible. With our new Fairbuds, we want to continue to expand Fairphone’s customer base. Based on the Fairbuds XL app downloads, we see that 70% of Fairbuds XL customers were new to Fairphone!”

What are the features of the Fairbuds?

Of course, the Fairbuds feature a ton of repairability and sustainability features, but those don’t mean a ton unless the earbuds are actually good to listen to, so let’s get into what these earbuds feature as far as a user experience.

The earbuds feature titanium-coated 11mm drivers and what the company is calling “state-of-the-art” active noise-canceling (ANC). According to Fairphone, that noise cancellation features “wind noise reduction, and crystal clear calls, indoors or outdoors, thanks to environmental noise-canceling (ENC). Those calls are powered by six onboard microphones.

Fairbuds in Black.

The Fairbuds feature multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, allowing two devices to connect simultaneously, so you’ll be able to switch easily between your phone and your laptop without having to reconnect. As far as battery life goes, the earbuds pack 6 hours of listening and up to 26 hours with the charging case. The earbuds are also IP54 rated for sweat and weather resistance. There’s also an iOS and Android app to customize EQ and a range of other settings.

All in all, they’re what you’d expect from a pair of wireless earbuds in 2024, so props to Fairphone for finding a way to offer all of the features customers would anticipate. But that’s only one part of what makes the Fairbuds a worthy product — the other part is how sustainable they are.

The Fairbuds are the most sustainable earbuds ever

The Fairbuds, according to Fairphone, are the most sustainable earbuds ever created, and that claim sure seems reasonable when the company breaks down the materials, repairability, and warranty that come with the earbuds.

First up are materials. Fairphone says that the Fairbuds and the case they come in are both made from 70% recycled and fair materials. The plastic used in the earbuds and charging case are also recycled and the company uses 100% recycled rare earth elements. For any remaining emissions that are created by the Fairbuds, the company offsets those by contributing to carbon reduction projects. The company says that the earbuds are electronic waste neutral, meaning that they also will responsibly recycle electronic waste for every Fairbuds sold.

Fairbuds exploded.

Next up is repairability. Like the Fairphone, the Fairbuds are also the most repairable earbuds I’ve ever seen — especially if you’re a normal person and not someone who works at Best Buy in the Geek Squad. Of course, if you lose an earbud, you can order a replacement. The company also says that seven parts on the earbuds and charging case can be replaced, including the batteries. That’s a big win since I’ve certainly had to replace AirPods after a few years due to their degrading battery life.

Fairphone is also backing the Fairbuds with a three-year warranty instead of the usual one-year warranty you get with most headphones. The company says that this should help people keep their earbuds for longer since they are covered for many issues by the company for longer, further contributing to the sustainability of the Fairbuds.

These earbuds make me question my AirPods Pro

After seeing the Fairbuds, I can’t help but look at my AirPods Pro 2 and feel a little guilty. There’s no doubt that Fairphone made an incredibly more sustainable product than Apple did here — especially when it comes to repairability and the supporting warranty.

On the materials side, I know Apple is making tons of progress in the use of more sustainable and recycled materials. I also know that the company has a great recycling program that allows you to trade in AirPods through the mail or at your local Apple Store to get recycled responsibly — so props to Apple for that.

However, there’s no denying that the Fairbuds go far beyond what Apple has here and their efforts should be lauded and, frankly, copied by every audio product company that has much more resources than Fairphone. Now we just need to listen to them and ensure they’re good headphones!

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