Fairphone’s Eco Phone is Joined by Recycled Headphones – CNET

The Fairbuds XL are a set of over-ear headphones, designed with sustainability in mind. Made using recycled plastics and aluminum, vegan leather and Fairtrade gold, the headphones are also modular, allowing you to replace parts that could wear over time, extending the lifespan and resulting in a lower carbon footprint as a result. 

They’re on sale today in Europe for 249 Euros (£217, $273), directly from Fairphone’s website. Fairphone doesn’t currently officially sell its products in the US, but whether the Fairbuds XL become available via Amazon remains to be seen. 

The headphones are the first audio product launched by Fairphone, and they stay true to the company’s sustainable mission. Billing itself as a “social enterprise”, Fairphone has previously launched a range of Android smartphones, most recently the Fairphone 4. Featuring a 6.3-inch display, a dual 48-megapixel rear camera and 5G connectivity, the Fairphone 4 has plenty of features you’d expect from any current Android phones. But as with the headphones, the focus remains on sustainability. 

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The phone includes recycled materials, Fairtrade gold and replaceable components. Fairphone also states that workers throughout its manufacturing are treated and paid fairly, while the company makes investments in carbon reduction projects. It’s certainly an admirable mission and Fairphone is hoping that its efforts will encourage larger manufacturers to take bigger steps to make their own products as environmentally friendly as possible. 

So what about the headphones? Well they’re over-ear in design and feature deeply-padded earcups that are comfortable to wear for longer periods. They’re wireless headphones with solid sound quality featuring punchy bass and clear highs, as well as decent though not outstanding noise canceling.

I like the Fairbuds XL design, especially with the speckled green coloring on the model I tested. They stand out from their competitors and have quite a fun aesthetic that I don’t mind wearing around town. The earcups fold inwards for easier storing and they’re IP54 rated for water resistance, making them safe to keep wearing during a rain shower, but don’t let them drop underwater. 

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Battery life is rated at around 30 hours (without noise cancelling, which drains the battery faster), and I’d say that estimate is about accurate, based on my own testing. If the juice does run out, you can continue listening by plugging them into your phone with a USB-C cable. 

The Fairbuds XL are not the highest performance or most luxurious headphones around. Nor is the Fairphone 4 the most premium phone. But they’re not supposed to be, instead aimed at offering generally solid performance with as little environmental impact as possible, and that’s something I can absolutely get behind. 

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