Fairphone made an easy-to-repair alternative to Apple AirPods

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Key Takeaways

  • Fairphone has unveiled Fairbuds, an affordable set of wireless earbuds that are easy to repair.
  • You can replace the batteries yourself instead of replacing everything.
  • They're available in Europe now for €149.

Fairphone has introduced Fairbuds, a new set of wireless earbuds that is both easy to fix and affordable.

The new earbuds, like the Fairbuds XL over-ear headphones, were built with sustainability in mind. Both the in-ears and their charging case have replaceable batteries, so you can simply swap in new cells rather than throwing everything out.

While the battery holders in the buds aren’t completely removable, Fairphone has made a rotating battery tray that you can easily open with a screwdriver. You can even use a fingernail, the company said.

Other parts are also replaceable, and the design is meant to be durable. Only the earbuds are IP54 water resistant, but this makes them viable for use in the rain or during workouts.

The Fairbuds offer the performance you’d expect from similar wireless earbuds, according to Fairphone. They include active noise cancellation to block ambient sound, and 11mm titanium-coated drivers that reportedly offer “cleaner, richer” audio. Battery life reaches six hours for the earbuds, with an additional 20 hours coming from the case.

Fairbuds are available in Europe today in black and white variants for €149 (about $162). There’s no word on a North American release.

The wearables are Fairphone’s response to the lack of repairability for Apple AirPods and other true wireless earbuds. As the batteries generally aren’t user-replaceable, owners frequently have to throw out their earbuds (and thus create e-waste) even if the hardware is otherwise fully functional. Now, you only have to dispose of battery packs.

The Fairbuds also come as right to repair rules are gathering momentum, including in Europe and the US. Governments want consumers to not only minimize their impact on the environment, but to save money and replace products only when they’re truly beyond recovery.  Earbuds like these could address government concerns while showing that repairability doesn’t necessarily compromise features.