Fairphone, a company that has focused on the development of repairable, modular phones for the past several years has now developed repairable headphones. The modular headphones — Fairbuds XL are priced at €249.
The Fairbuds XL is a pair of noise cancelling, over-ear (circumaural) headphones made up of several modules. The modules can in some cases be replaced without tooling, and in others with a screwdriver. The battery life of the Fairbuds XL is an estimated 30 hours. With noise cancellation turned on it is 26 hours. It offers mild splash resistance with an IP54 rating.
Repairable headphones are not unheard of (albeit not common among cheaper headphones). However, the most likely issue you’ll encounter trying to repair headphones is difficulty locating replacement parts because manufacturers won’t sell them to you.
Fairphone goes further by making them easier to dismantle, but they also sell the replacement parts for their products. You won’t have to dig around or make calls to get them either. They’re sold online. Fairphone also manufactures products with a focus on sustainability.
Key Characteristics Of A Truly Repairable Product
- The ability to dismantle the product with basic tools that are available to the general public.
- The ability to dismantle the product without having to damage it (for example: Having to remove adhesives, tape, or find hidden clips that break easily when trying to pry it open).
- No booby traps such as firmware that disables the product nor fragile hidden cables that tear easily when the chassis is opened.
- Most or all spare parts are readily available and sold at a reasonable price (not excessively marked up).
- Spare parts are not bundled or excessively integrated, requiring the user to buy an entire mainboard just to get a small part of it, for example.
- No unnecessary integration (for example: soldering an SSD or RAM to the motherboard).
- No firmware traps that require replacement parts to be unlocked, authenticated, or approved by the manufacturer.
Sadly, most large technology companies fail to meet most of the criteria above. Some of them fail to meet all of them.