Down my local Co-op they have Fairtrade bananas, Fairtrade coffee and lots of lovely, lovely bottles of beer. That last bit isn’t important though, well…. It’s not an important part of this news story anyway. The Co-op, which seem to have outlets all over our little town, has a mobile network too (it’s an MVNO running on EE) called “The Phone Co-op”.
Apart from being an ethical network, they’re now the exclusive UK stockist of the Fairphone ethical smartphone. The phone itself has been built using “conflict-free minerals” and has been manufactured in factories that treat their workers well. If you buy the Fairphone you’ll know that everyone involved in building and producing it has been treated fairly.
Now, social and environmental values are important yes, but let’s have a look at that phone shall we? It has two cameras – an 8 megapixel shooter at the back and a 1.3 megapixel unit up front. It’s a dual-SIM device with a quad-core Mediatek. 1.2GHz CPU, Android 4.2.2, 4.3″ qHD (960×540 pixel) screen, 1GB RAM, 16GB on-board storage plus a microSD slot for another 64GB. GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth are here but there’s something else – root access out of the box.
The Phone Co-op are offering this on a 2-year plan for as little as £22 per month. That’ll get you 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB data. You can choose other packages and, in all cases, increase the data for each plan. An additional 1GB of data (totalling 1.5GB on this plan) will cost an additional £6 per month.
Full details below …
The Phone Co-op is exclusive UK stockist of Fairphone ethical smartphone
06 Oct 2014 By Pat Moral
The Phone Co-op has become the UK’s only mobile provider to stock Fairphone ethical smartphones, challenging the mobile industry over supply chain transparency.
From September 2014, The Co-operative Mobile and The Co-operative Business Telecoms brands, awarded aBest Buy by Ethical Consumer magazine, are offering the phone for a no upfront cost on pay-monthly contracts.
“We are delighted that our partnership with Fairphone means we are able to build on our reputation as the leading ethical provider of telecoms, by supplying what must be the most ethical mobile handset on the market”, says Vivian Woodell, Chief Executive of The Phone Co-op. “Fairphone’s initiative raises awareness of important issues about the supply chain for products we use every day. This partnership brings together two of Europe’s most radical and dynamic social enterprises, organisations with shared values, to make a difference in our industry. We are proud of what we, together with our customers, are achieving by sending a message to politicians and manufacturers that we care about how phones are made.”
Starting life as a successful crowdfunding project from one of Europe’s most cutting-edge social enterprises, the Fairphone handset has now entered the mainstream. Built with conflict-free minerals in a factory with a worker-controlled welfare fund, the Android-based Fairphone stands out from handsets made by competitors often tight-lipped on the conditions endured by the people who make the phones and mine the minerals they contain.
Like many of today’s popular gadgets, mobiles are chock-full of exotic metals like Tantalum (sometimes called Coltan) and more familiar ones like Tin. Both are plentiful in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the militias have seized many of the valuable mines to fund their devastating conflict. The firm behind Fairphone works with Conflict Free Tin Initiative and theSolutions for Hope Tantalum project to source from conflict-free mines.
The lives of electronics factory workers have featured in the headlines, so the Fairphone is produced under a contract that provides for a worker-controlled welfare fund. Shop floor workers elect their colleagues to operate this pot of money, targeted to reach $300,000, that’s designed to fund projects that enrich their community.
Fairphones sport sustainable features. For example; the phone has two SIM slots, solving the common problem of having to carry both work and personal handsets, and is a benefit for regular travellers who use SIMs from more than one country. Unlike with the iPhone, owners can replace the battery themselves, extending the life of phones and reducing waste.
The Phone Co-op supports its Fairphone owners, including with warranty claims, from its UK-based customer service team.