The right to repair has been a hot topic for several years now, hitting a kind of critical mass with domestic and international legislation. Advocates note that these proposals give users more control over their own property, while expanding products’ shelf life and reducing e-waste.

Fairphone is, perhaps, the most prominent hardware company to make repairability the foundation of its consumer electronic design ethos, rather than a simple afterthought. To date, the European startup has released several handsets and a pair of over-ear headphones. This week, it’s adding earbuds to that list.

While Bluetooth buds have rapidly become a commodity, user repairability has been something of a non-starter, owing to their compact size. They’re also relatively cheap to produce, making it easy to toss a pair when it stops working for some reason. If you’re going to make a product like this repairable, you have to make it a foundational feature — which, thankfully, is kind of Fairphone’s whole deal.

Image Credits: Fairphone (screenshot)

In this case, the company centered on battery life. Users can easily open the buds and case to remove the batteries once they’ve worn down. The company calls Fairbuds, “the world’s most repairable premium earbuds.” They’re certainly easier to crack open and swap out parts than competitive products from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

The €149 ($162) price puts them somewhere in the mid-tier of the earbud world. You can, of course, get buds for significantly less these days. And while the company is promoting features like active noise canceling and 11mm titanium drivers, the truth is that repairability and battery longevity need to be high up on your list of requirements to pick these out of an extremely crowded field.

In the consumer electronics world, right to repair has largely focused on handsets and PCs. Given the lower price point and smaller footprint, it seems unlikely that they’ll find their way into many laws in the near future. But anything that can help reduce e-waste and give users more control over these products is probably a net positive.

Share.

Comments are closed.