Accessibility in Fairphone 2, a modular smartphone designed following Fair Trade principles

Friday, 4 March, 2016

By Amóvil

Photo of the front side and the backside. The backside has been left open showing the device's inner workings

The Fairpone 2 is a modular smartphone designed for reparability and to last longer than other phones in the market. It has been manufactured following the principles of Fair Trade, and includes accessibility features that accommodate the needs of people with hearing disability and poor dexterity skills, and blind users.

Features and specifications

The handset is powered by Android 5.2 Lollipop and runs on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 at 2.26 GHz. Measuring 143 x 73 x 11 mm, it sports an unconventional design with a black front-side made of glass, and an open backside that reveals its inner workings. According to its manufacturers, the purpose of this design is to make reparations easier. The phone includes a transparent plastic case easy to put and to remove that includes rubber edges that act as shock absorbers. In addition, it weighs 168 grams.

The device’s display is a 5-inches IPS LCD Full HD panel with 1080x1920 pixels resolution with a density of 446 ppi, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. It has a storage capacity of 32 GB and 2 GB of RAM.

The Fairphone 2 also comes equipped with two cameras: one on the back with 8 megapixels, autofocus and LED flash, and another one on the front for selfies and videocalls. The phone also includes Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and GPS, and the possibility to insert two SIM cards of different sizes: micro and nano.

Accessibility review


Blind people may be able to use this smartphone for it comes with a version of TalkBack preinstalled that reads these users through most of the available visual content.

However, people with low vision may have a hard time using this device. Although it lets users easily change the font size, changing the font style it is not possible. Some interfaces include a white font with a thin black border that lacks sufficient contrast, and can make the reading of the text harder for some users. The experimental high-contrast text feature available in the Accessibility menu does not improve the legibility of this font style.

Another accessibility feature available that is targeted to users with low vision is the option to invert background and foreground colors. While it works satisfactorily, problems arise in elements that have black backgrounds, such as the virtual dialing pad. These backgrounds become white with black fonts. This can render readability difficult to some people with vision issues.


The Fairphone 2 is adequate to people with hearing disabilities. On one hand, it is compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants. On the other, it supports instant messaging and videocalls.


Fairphone 2 meets most of the accessibility requirements to accommodate the needs of individuals with dexterity disabilities. However, we can only recommend it to people with poor dexterity skills, namely persons with mild to moderate fine motor skills impairments.

Although the phone is a bit heavier than most smartphones in the market, it complies with weight requirements. In addition, the plastic case makes gripping easier and physical keys are easy to press.

This phone is unsuitable to people with very little or no dexterity skills. The phone comes with the voice recognition application, Google Now, which carries out basic voice commands such as launching the Settings menu, make phone calls or send messages. However, it is not possible to control it using writing sticks or other similar devices. In addition, it does not include automatic call answering features.


The Fairphone 2 is also unsuitable for people with comprehension issues, learning or cognitive disabilities. The touch keys at the bottom of the display include a design that does not conform to accessibility standards. They are actual geometric figures (a triangle, a circle and a square), and this may cause confusion in some users.

For more information about the accessibility features on this device, please consult the full accessibility report available in Amóvil.

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