Fairphone Design & Branding, Case study Creating The Worlds First Modular Smartphone [image] by Seymourpowell

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Creating The Worlds First Modular Smartphone [image]

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Industry Mobile phones, devices & accessories
Media Design & Branding, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Seymourpowell
Creative Director Matthew Cockerill
Released October 2016


Cannes Lions 2017
Product Design Impact: Sustainability & Environmental Impact Gold Lion

Credits & Description

Title: Creating The Worlds First Modular Smartphone
Agency: Seymourpowell
Brand: Fairphone
Country: United Kingdom
Entrant Company: Seymourpowell, London
Advertising Agency: Seymourpowell, London
Production Company: Seymourpowell, London
Creative Director: Matthew Cockerill (Seymourpowell)
Strategic Director: Matthew Harrison (Seymourpowell)
Senior Designer: Jamie Cobb (Seymourpowell)
Senior Designer: Kok-Chian Leong (Seymourpowell)
Design Engineer: Joe Allum (Seymourpowell)
Technical Director: Olivier Hebert (Fairphone)
Chief Executive Officer: Bas Van Abel (Fairphone)
Communications Director: Tessa Wernink (Fairphone)
Product Manager: Miquel Ballester (Fairphone)
Campaign Description:
The challenge was to create a phone with longevity and fairness in mind, along with the usual factors of usability, desirability and manufacturability. With 1
000 components containing 80 materials, there is no simple or perfect course of action in creating a “fair”phone. The idea therefore would have to be efficient, pragmatic in terms of the current capabilities, and innovative in laying down a marker for the future.To achieve Bas' objectives, the concept of a modular smartphone was agreed upon to enable longevity. This would allow users to easily replace any damaged components. Through being open by design, it would become a storytelling device to spread the values of the product. Users could become brand advocates to advance the mission of changing the way electronics are made. The phone would possess the functionality of other devices whilst enabling longevity through design to create a lower social and environmental footprint.
The final product is a modular smartphone that can be disassembled as easy as changing a battery in a child’s toy. The phone’s features include an 8-megapixel camera, an LCD screen, a Snapdragon 801 processor, and an Android operating system. However, it is also compatible with alternative operating systems such as Jolla, Ubuntu and Firefox. It is manufactured using conflict free tin and tantalum, Fairtrade gold, as well as recycled copper and plastics. The product also contains two sim-card slots, allowing the user to separate the work and personal uses of their phone, for example.Sliding two clips allows the user to free the screen, and the three modules inside can be disassembled with a single screwdriver. Key components such as the camera, headphone jack and micro-usb connector can also be replaced with minimal effort, in sharp contrast to the vast array of tools and methods needed to repair an average smartphone in today’s market. It is also notable that the phone is durable in the sense that it passes rigorous drop tests that many competitors fail. The result therefore is a smartphone with all the features of its competitors, whilst reaching new levels of durability and social responsibility.
Users are now able to keep their phones for longer, meaning that fewer finite resources are used to manufacture replacements and planned obsolescence will not be an issue. The end goal is to increase the average time that someone keeps a smartphone from two to five years. The modularity of the phone results in a 30% CO2 saving over the lifecycle of the Fairphone 2 as certified by the Fraunhofer Institute IZM. Fair mines, factory worker funds and councils, and various other initiatives were set up to have a direct impact on those involved in the process as well as the indirect effect the movement has had on the industry.Approximately 45,000 units of the product were sold between July 2015 and July 2016, generating €19 million of revenue. The phone also generated significant press coverage, and Bas is confident that his campaign has pushed forward and developed the dialogue.
Fairphone’s founder and CEO, Bas van Abel, when asked to sign a campaign opposing conflict minerals, was shocked to discover their prevalence in the manufacturing of consumer electronics. Coupled with the knowledge he already had about the e-waste associated with this industry, he decided instead to help change the way electronics are made to drive it towards a more ethical and responsible future. The production process is difficult to alter, but if you can make a phone last twice as long, a significant impact is made to the product’s environmental footprint. So he set a brief to design a smartphone which was fairer for the environment, those who make it through good working conditions, and consumers. Aware that this product would not be able to challenge the big players of the smartphone industry, Bas’ underlying objective was instead to encourage them to adopt new manufacturing and design models.