Five years after Apple launched its AirPods, many others have entered the earbud end of the Bluetooth audio market. They stretch from heavier hitters like Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi to specialists in low-cost peripherals. A ‘professional’ pair can cost more than £200 – Apple AirPods Pro are £239 – but prices can go down to less than £20. Quality and lifespan vary.
With the increasing disappearance of the 3.5mm socket on many smartphones, there is concern about Bluetooth audio’s contribution to electronic waste. Dutch consumer electronics company Fairphone has established itself in Europe with smartphones that are repairable and recyclable. Its fourth-generation model just received 10 out of 10 for repairability from specialists at iFixit. To coincide with that, it has entered the earbud business.
Fairphone doesn’t have all the answers yet, but its entry does perhaps suggest it is part of the way forward.
The environmental problem with earbuds is that...