Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


Fairbuds XL: ANC headphones just got a lot more repairable

Fairphone, a tech company committed to sustainability, released a 100% modular pair of over-ear ANC headphones.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Fairbuds XL headphones taken apart and laid out on a wooden table

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.

Fairbuds XL in green against a blue background

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.

Also: These mushroom-based chips could power your devices and help save our planet

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. 

Editorial standards