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The Makers Of Fairphone Proved Earbuds Can Use Replaceable Parts, Too

The Makers Of Fairphone Proved Earbuds Can Use Replaceable Parts, Too

by Low Boon ShenApril 16, 2024
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The Makers Of Fairphone Proved Earbuds Can Use Replaceable Parts, Too

Modern gadgets, for better or worse, are notoriously difficult to repair; most simple processes that users were able to do, such as replacing batteries, have been largely a thing of the past (although the EU is bringing the feature back by 2027). The situation is even worse for earbuds – where components are so deeply integrated that repairing them is virtually deemed impossible (or impractical). Apple is particularly notorious for this.

The Makers Of Fairphone Proves Earbuds Can Use Replaceable Parts, Too

This is obviously a big environmental problem: as batteries degrade, with no way of replacing batteries onboard, the only way out is to simply buy a new one, and throw out the old one, even if the rest of the parts are still functional. Such designs naturally encourage customers to keep buying earbuds, but Fairphone says you don’t have to do that. As reported by Ars Technica, the European company has demonstrated with its Fairbuds that earbuds with user-replaceable components – including batteries – can be designed.

The Makers Of Fairphone Proved Earbuds Can Use Replaceable Parts, Too 30

As a matter of fact, there isn’t any kind of caveat that comes with user-repairable designs such as this one. Fairphone says there are a total of seven replaceable parts (batteries included) from both the earbuds and the charging case, all of which are sold by first-party. It maintains the IP54 ingress protection like most earbuds on the market, and if you ever lose one of them, you can get an individual replacement instead of getting an entirely new set of hardware, which saves both money and resources.

Feature-wise, it’s similar to most earbuds you’ll find today. These include Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and transparency mode, Bluetooth 5.3 with multipoint connection, a companion app for adjusting audio profiles and settings, and the 45mAh + 500mAh replaceable batteries that can last 6+20 hours of listening time, powering a pair of 11mm titanium drivers.

To prove just how easy a user can replace a dying battery, here’s iFixit demonstrating the process (they also gave it the first ever 10/10 score for earbuds):

Sadly, the Fairbuds is only available in the EU so far (costing 149 Euros), so customers of other regions have no choice but to watch, for the most part. However, with regulators increasingly scrutinizing anti-repair practices on various gadgets, there is a glimmer of hope that devices like this will finally be feasible to the general market.

Pokdepinion: The biggest pain point for user repairs has always been the accessibility of spare parts – and I hope more can be done in this regard. 

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Low Boon Shen
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