What happened with our transparent cases?

Topics By Louis Spencer JR |

We have recently stopped selling our transparent and black translucent slim cases via our web shop and partners. After doing additional reliability testing we have discovered that they crack more easily, which makes them vulnerable to breakage. If you own a black translucent or transparent case and are experiencing problems with it you can quickly replace it by following the steps outlined in our support page, to keep your Fairphone protected.  

As a young company who’s trying to change the industry, we love getting feedback from our community and trying new things. So after receiving lots of requests to create transparent cases for the Fairphone 2, we were very excited to introduce these two new cases in May: a transparent (clear) and translucent (black) version. However, in the past few months, it’s become clear that this project didn’t go as well as planned. So we’ve made the decision to stop selling these cases in our online store – and take a good look at how we can improve the cases before we bring them back.

What’s the problem?

Before we produce new products like these cases, we create a prototype and do a variety of tests for safety and durability. We got satisfactory results from these tests, but after we began producing and selling the transparent cases, we started getting complaints and returns because some of them were breaking easily. As a result, we did additional tests and research to uncover the problem.

Based on what we’ve now learned, it seems that the issue is caused by the type of plastic used to create our transparent cases. Apparently, this see-through polycarbonate reacts to other chemicals such as lotions, and becomes more fragile over time. That makes the cases more susceptible to cracks, which can eventually lead to them breaking. We are investigating this issue further to understand how we can improve the material composition of the cases or improve the way they are produced as we suspect that there may be other factors involved.

Since the entire purpose of the case is to protect your phone and keep it lasting longer, as much as we liked producing them on popular demand, we have now removed them from our online store.

We’ll replace your broken case

While we loved the design of the cases, which makes taking this step annoying, we can’t accept that they are not protective enough. If you’re one of the people with a broken case, you’re probably even more annoyed than we are. So first of all, we’d like to say sorry. But apologies won’t protect your phone! So if you’re one of the people with a broken transparent case, we want to make it as easy as possible to replace it.

If you bought a transparent or translucent case through our online store, either stand-alone or with a phone, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to order a replacement case free of charge and with free shipping. In case you missed the email, you can also check our support article to receive the same information. For now, you can only swap it for a colored case — we don’t know when and if we’ll produce the see-through cases again. If a replacement case isn’t the right solution for you, you can also contact customer support to request a refund.

Next steps for durable cases

We’re very disappointed that we have to discontinue our transparent cases. But we know it’s the right decision. Happily, the colored cases are still as reliable and protective as before — they are made of a different combination of plastics and don’t face the same problems as our see-through cases.

So will we ever sell transparent cases again? For now, it’s too soon to say. We’re still investigating whether we could improve them with different material composition or an additional coating. We’re also looking at whether the problem was only about materials, or if there is something in the production process that could be improved. We will keep you updated on our findings.

Because we suspect that the transparent cases we have in stock may eventually have defects, we will recycle our stock and donate as much of it as possible to a research project led by the NHL Stenden — they are doing research on how to create high-quality plastic from the old cases that can be used for manufacturing new plastic components in cooperation with Coolrec. By doing this, we hope a bit of good may come out some of these less-than-perfect cases.

If we have any more news to share on this topic, we’ll let you know on the blog. In the meantime, we’d like to thank you again for your understanding, and for sticking by our side, even when our bright ideas don’t turn out as well as we planned.

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