Fairphone, the company behind the modular 5G smartphone, Fairphone 4, has ventured into another area of modular devices: Over-ear headphones. Fairphone released the Fairbuds XL Headphones, a pair of ANC Bluetooth headphones with sustainability in mind.
Fairbuds XL has six microphones, a 40mm dynamic driver, a headphone jack, and up to 30 hours of listening with ANC turned off. They offer Ambient Sound mode, similar to Apple’s AirPods Max Transparency mode.
Also: The best over and on-ear headphones
Sustainability comes first at Fairphone, mainly how being a sustainable tech company means making products that can be easily repaired and replaced. Fairbuds XL is 100% modular, meaning every component can be removed — including batteries.
Traditionally, modular devices are more susceptible to dust and water ingress since the parts are so easily removable, but Fairbuds XL received an IP54, making them dust-resistant and protected against light water splashes and sweat.
In comparison, similarly-modeled headphones like AirPods Max and Sony WH-1000XM4 both have IPX4, making them splash-resistant, but their protection against solid or dust particles is not defined or was not tested.
Spare parts for Fairbuds XL are not yet available and have yet to receive a rating from iFixit. But Fairphone 2, 3, 3+, and 4 received a 10/10 repairability rating from iFixit, so Fairbuds are probably just as easy to repair.
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Modular over-ear headphones are a design feat, as there are 11 removable parts to Fairbuds XL. Many people like the sleek and seamless design of AirPods Max or Sony’s over-ear headphones. The Fairbuds’ many notches for easy opening may make the headphones less appealing to those users.
Fairbuds XL comes in green or black, and both colors are adorned with Fairphone’s signature speckles at the base of the ear cups. The ear cushions and headband are fashioned out of 100% vegan leather, and the entire device has 100% recycled aluminum throughout.
Also: The best green phones: Sustainable and eco-friendly smartphones
Fairbuds XL are available to order on Fairphone’s website starting at €249 or about $272. Unfortunately, for non-Europeans, Fairphone products are only available to ship within the European continent.
Fairphone does not ship products to the U.S. specifically due to incompatibility with North American networks and registration complications with the Federal Communications Commission. Still, the company hopes to expand in the future, and determined American Fairphone fans have found ways to get their hands on the company’s products.
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