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Fairphone socially-conscious smart phone on sale next week

If you're worried about what your gadget habit is doing to the planet, you can try the Fairphone, a socially-conscious Android phone.

If you're worried about what your gadget habit is doing to the planet and your fellow humans in troubled parts of the world, then next week you could get your hands on a fairer phone: the Fairphone.

The socially-conscious Fairphone is an Android smart phone, conceived as having less of an impact on the environment and the people who build it than current gadgets.

It costs €325 (£250) and if 5,000 people put their cash where their conscience is, the phone gets built -- more than a possibility, as over 12,000 people have registered an interest. But if less than 5,000 people place an order, the socially-conscious phone remains a pipedream.

The final design is being decided right now in a survey of newsletter subscribers, who can choose from the four designs above.

The Netherlands-based dreamers behind Fairphone plan to make the phone from minerals mined in areas without human rights abuses, a particular problem in conflict areas where militias often seize mines to finance their operations.

And the phone will be assembled by suppliers with a decent record for employment conditions: the folks at Fairphone have joined forces with LaborVoices, an organisation that helps workers find work with ethical suppliers, and helps companies find and deal with those ethical suppliers to build their gadgets.

But all these social good intentions don't mean this is a tofu-munching lank-haired hippy of a phone: the Fairphone itself offers the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with a 4.3-inch touchscreen. It has a replaceable battery so you can keep it for a long time, because another goal of the Fairphone is to cut down on the number of gadgets being built and using up resources.

Employment conditions in gadget production have been highlighted over the past couple of years, as reports of poor conditions, child workers, and even worker suicides at suppliers such as Foxconn force both technology brands and those of us who love gadgets to face the uncomfortable reality of where our latest toy comes from.

Would a socially-conscious aspect influence your decision when buying a new gadget? Is it possible to love gadgets and still be socially responsible? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.