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Modular Smartphone
Founder Carsten Waldeck

Shiftphone is a modular, easy to repair smartphone created by the company SHIFT in Germany. The company emphasizes fair trade and ecology similar to Fairphone.[1][2] Instead of tantalum capacitors made from coltan, ceramic capacitors are used for their manufacturing. So far, nine model series have been released. The most recent release was the Shift6m in May 2018. The upcoming device will be the Shift6mq and the Shiftmu.[when?][3][4][5][6][7][8]


The official company name is SHIFT GmbH.[9]

Model names[edit]

The names of models start with the string "SHIFT" in upper case letter.

Except for the SHIFTmu this is followed by the length of the display diagonal rounded to full inches. After that

  • the name ends - for the oldest models
  • a dot follows, in turn followed by a number - some newer models until around 2017
  • a m follows - this is for the new modular line

OS name[edit]

The OS is named either SHIFT-OS or ShiftOS.[10]


name year of release
SHIFT4 2015
SHIFT4.2 2017
SHIFT5 2015
SHIFT5.1 2015
SHIFT5.2 2016
SHIFT5.3 2017
SHIFT5me 2019
SHIFT6m 2018
SHIFT6mq expected in 2020
SHIFT7 2014
SHIFT7+ 2016
SHIFTmu expected not before 2021


SHIFT is developing smartphones since 2014. In the beginning Carsten and his brother Samuel Waldeck realized the project SHIFT7 through German crowdfunding platform Startnext. The brothers started Shift GmbH, a company with limited liability by German law. Further Shiftphones were launched with model series SHIFT4 and SHIFT5 in 2015. The project grew into a small company with 15 employees in Germany, which collaborated with the Chinese production coordinator company "Vstar and Weihuaxin" in Shenzhen.[11] Since 2018 the company employs 10 workers in an own manufacturing facility in Hangzhou.[12]



Shiftphones are built in a modular manner to allow the customer to change parts and repair the device without voiding warranty. Videos support the user in repairing their device, explaining how to open it and how to change certain modules.[13]

Cycle economy[edit]

Customers have the upgrade option, to upgrade their device to a different model.[14]

Workers' care[edit]

Shift employees in China don't work more than 50 hours a week when it is common for people to work up to 90. Compared to the average Chinese worker in production business, staff is provided with insurances.[15]

Critics and controversies about conflict minerals[edit]

In 2016 c't described the Shift5 as a typical cheap smartphone. Besides, the journal argued that there was no evidence that coltan is not used in Shiftphones and thus criticized the transparency of SHIFT. SHIFT and further secondary sources claim that coltan is not in use for their manufacturing.[16] However, according to c't, the SHIFT partner company "Vstar and Weihuaxin" did not provide information about conflict-free material used in Shiftphone. Unlike Shiftphone, Fairphone provides detailed audit reports about component suppliers through a Chinese agency, and also facilitates detailed information on problems and compromises in the supply-chain.[11]

Coltan is used to make components for mobile phones and other electronic devices. A huge part of the ore is from mines in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). "Much mining has been done in small artisanal mining operations, sometimes known as Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM). These small-scale mines are unregulated, with high levels of child labor and workplace injury." Approximately around 50,000 children, some just seven years old, work in Congo's coltan mines. Workers hardly have any protection and often work underground in self-made shafts.[17]

Recent reports paint a clear picture: articles by many magazines were able to capture the statements of Carsten Waldeck and prove their credibility accordingly.

For example, reported in detail on the company and its efforts in terms of sustainability and fairness in June 2018.[18]

The ProSieben magazine Galileo tests the newly published smartphone Shift6m and illuminates, in the form of video recordings, the production conditions of the in-house manufactory located in China in June 2018.[19]

N-tv describes the initial efforts for fairness and sustainability as well as the history of the Shiftphone, in September 2018.[20]

In August of 2018 the ecology portal no longer reports any lack of transparency in regards to Shift's Chinese hardware manufacturing process.[21]

In the issue 15/2018 the computer magazine c't shows a more positive approach on the topic of German smartphone manufacturer Shift, although the report itself turns out to be rather short in comparison to other European hardware providers. [22]


  1. ^ Galan, Ana (24 October 2017). "Shiftphone: an Ethical Smartphone That's Made in Germany - Responsibility". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  2. ^ Schröder, Horst (4 April 2016). "So gut ist das erste Fairphone aus Deutschland". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  3. ^ Hasenheit, Marius (28 September 2015). "ShiftPhone: Das erste faire Telefon aus Deutschland". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Shiftphone 5.1 – Das kann das faire Smartphone - Bilder & Fotos - WELT".
  5. ^ "Shiftphone 5.1: Praxis-Test des fairen Smartphones".
  6. ^ Johannsen, Thomas (June 2017). "Oberklasse Shiftphone Shift5.2". Tablet und Smartphone: 11.
  7. ^ Knödl, Karsten (August 2017). "Mehr als fair". Heimatnachrichten Fritzlar/Homberg. p. 5.
  8. ^ Peters, Rolf-Herbert (November 2015). "Handy mit Moral". Stern: 134.
  9. ^ "Handelsregisterauszug von SHIFT GmbH aus Wabern (HRB 12090)". Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Wölbert, Christian (September 2016). "Das angeblich faire Android-Smartphone Shift 5.1". c't. pp. 64, 65.
  12. ^ Lohr, Matthias (16 June 2018). "Dieses Smartphone aus Nordhessen könnte Ihr Lieblings-Handy werden". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  13. ^ Wiebke, Wiebke (March 2018). "Wegweiser in Sachen Fairness". Guter Rat: 55.
  14. ^ "Nachhaltigkeit von Geschäftsmodellen in der Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik" (PDF). Deutsche Umwelthilfe: 8, 18. January 2018.
  15. ^ Holtkemper, Lennart (March 2017). "Fairphone und Shiftphone: Nachhaltig produzierte Smartphones". Connect.
  16. ^ Neubauer, Dr. Uta (December 2017). "Faire Handys aus Hessen" (PDF). Technologieland Hessen. p. 47.
  17. ^ Behnke, Andrea (September 2016). "Rohstoffabbau schadet Umwelt und Menschen". Verbraucherzentrale NRW. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  18. ^ Sustainability does not have to be too expensive or ugly (German), retrieved 2019-12-05
  19. ^ The first German Smartphone (German), retrieved 2019-12-05
  20. ^ Fair high technology from Hessen - A smartphone that is supposed to change the world (German), retrieved 2019-12-05
  21. ^ Test: Shift6m of Shiftphones - the German Fairphone alternative (German), retrieved 2019-05-12
  22. ^ Market Overview - Smartphones from Europe (German), retrieved 2019-12-05

External links[edit]