How would you design and produce a repairable and long-lasting phone?


At MozFest I got speaking with someone who is working with Purism on the Librem phone. It’s a free and open source phone all the way down the stack.

Their focus so far has been privacy, but they are following ethical design principles, and they were keen to hear ideas on how they can make it a long-lasting phone too.

Off the top of my head some repairability suggestions I had:

  • screws not glue
  • provide repair manuals (they have open schematics)
  • provide spare parts (and maybe partner with someone like iFixit to offer repair kits and possibly ease some of the logistics of supplying parts)

From the software side…

  • guarantee minimum 5(?) years of security updates (it’s built on top of Debian so hopefully that would’t be too much of an issue, and as I understood they have control of the code for all firmware)
  • make it easy for community to build/install their own OSs

Any thoughts and other suggestions you would also pass on?


Cool idea!

  • Hardware:

But what about water resistance? Typically, glue is the answer to a decent IPx rating.

I’d include the use of easy-to-replace batteries. They usually die after a year of two, while the performance is usually fine for about 5 years.

  • Repairability: interesting design in terms repairability/upgradeability

  • Software:
    I loved the UbuntuOS concept from a few years back. Might be interesting to learn what their experience was for a linux based OS?


Re: Software.
I’d just like to put in a word for Sailfish OS.
I’ve been happily running it for nearly 4 years on my Jolla phone


“What happend to Phonebloks? Today its been 5 years ago!”

Dave Hakkens writes:

29th of October. Today 5 years ago since the Thunderclap of Phonebloks. A graduation project. It was never my intention to spend a lot of time on this. Wasn’t super interested (or felt I was able) to develop a phone myself. I felt I could be more useful working on the plastic problem. Developing machines, designing products etc.

So I made a video to share the phone project with the world. A lot of stuff happend in that time, from a school project, viral on the internet, hanging out in Silicon Valley to a thrown away Ara.

Years later that is still my most common question, “what happend with phonebloks.” Just for this jubilee I made this video. So if you ever ever come across someone on there on the internet asking. Show them this.

Visit the website and/or watch below:


To make a long lasting phone there are two main things to consider.

  1. Any parts that are known to have a finite lifespan should be easily replacable, preferably by the user and not having to take it in for specialist repair. The obvious one is the battery. However memory can also fail, so I would suggest all memory should be on SD card or similar.
  2. The phone should be manufactured without any changes to the design over a very long period. Thinking of the car world, think of things like the 2CV, original mini or Landrover. A 30 year life for the overall design should easily be possible. As technology advances it gets smaller, so it should always be able to fit into the original casing so case, screen and keyboard could be very long lasting.

I would suggest making the operating system a choice for the user.


I’ve used various smart phones, including a Fairphone 2…which was terrible.

I’m surprised nobody has brought up bloatware yet.

I want what I want on my phone. No more, no less. And I want to be able to control it and change the software and apps.

But really I don’t want any surprises, buried programs running in the background, default settings to track down and disable.

Is that too much to ask?! Well, yeah. It is :slight_smile: