Fairphone 3+ review: Camera upgrades for the modular ethical smartphone


Picture: Fairphone

When you invest in a handset from Amsterdam-centered Fairphone, you are not getting just a different smartphone: you are getting into ethical manufacturing, and supporting a corporation that ploughs funds again into strategies that gain personnel at the coalface of the handset industry. 

The newest £425 (inc. VAT) Fairphone three+ is designed from 40% recycled plastic, and has a modular layout so that buyers can swap new components for outdated, or switch something that is damaged somewhat than simply just getting an completely new handset. A evaluate of the accomplishment of this upgradable design is the Fairphone 3’s 10/10 repairability score from iFixit.


The 5.65-inch Fairphone three+ operates on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 632 platform with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inside storage, and accommodates two SIMs and a MicroSD card. The three+ design will come with a 48MP principal camera and a 16MP selfie camera, to which owners of the 12MP/8MP Fairphone three can upgrade.

Illustrations or photos: Fairphone

The critical aspect of the Fairphone three+ when compared to 2019’s Fairphone three is up-to-date cameras at the front and rear. The principal camera now has a 48MP sensor and an f/1.79 lens, although the selfie camera has a 16MP sensor and an f/two. lens. The other requirements are really a great deal identical, apart from for a slightly louder speaker on the three+ design, so Fairphone three owners can consider getting a person or equally of the up-to-date cameras to self-put in.

The cameras shoot reasonable issue-and-click on pics, but features is constrained and if you are actually fascinated in smartphone images, you can expect to want to appear somewhere else. No a person is going to invest in the Fairphone three+ for the reason that of its camera.

The stark black plastic backplate incorporates a fingerprint reader and the Fairphone branding as properly as an NFC marker and a tiny lozenge that properties the single rear camera and its flash unit. The again has a matte finish, building it pleasingly grippy. 

At 9.89mm thick, the Fairphone three+ seems to be and feels chunky. On its still left edge you will find a textured electrical power button and a pair of volume rockers. They’re designed from plastic, you will find no click on when they are utilised, and they really feel a small unresponsive. Still, they do their careers completely properly.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (totally free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The top edge has a three.5mm headset jack, and you will find a USB-C demand/relationship port on the base. You don’t get a headset, demand cable or mains plug with the Fairphone three+. If you want these you can invest in them individually, but quite a few men and women now have these merchandise and can simply just repurpose them. There’s no rapidly-charging to accommodate right here, so you can go with a normal charging set up, this means that a person a lot more charging kit and headset has not had to be produced.

Flagship handset makers converse up their screens with functions like bezel-totally free designs and high refresh rates, but Fairphone sticks to a a lot more standard — but completely serviceable — screen. The 5.65-inch IPS Lcd has a resolution of two,a hundred and sixty by 1,080 pixels (427ppi) and is completely fantastic plenty of for displaying text and movie. Gorilla Glass 5 presents it some safety from knocks, and although there isn’t a pre-fitted screen protector, if you want a person it really should be straightforward plenty of to get. The very long edge bezels are a pair of millimetres broad, although the top and base bezels equally exceed 10mm, ensuing in a average screen-to-human body ratio of 72.5%. The Fairphone branding disguises the base bezel to some extent, although the top bezel properties a notification light, the front camera and the front speaker. 

This speaker acts as a 2nd outlet for audio, with the principal speaker on the base edge, to the still left. Seem output is bad, with a minimum-bass, tinny high-quality.


Fairphone three+ disassembled (the mobile phone will come with a screwdriver for the task). You can switch the principal and selfie cameras, the screen, the battery, the base module (vibration motor, USB-C port, key mic) and the speaker module.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The other, a lot more critical, weak issue is the battery. At three,040mAh it is really modest, and has a claimed existence of twenty hours. The Fairphone three+ just about lasted a day for me and managed 12 hours forty nine minutes on the PCMark for Android battery rundown examination. In my normal 3-hour YouTube streaming examination it dropped 31% of a complete demand. It is really slow to recharge, taking three.5 hours to go from zero to 100%. The a person saving grace is that the battery is conveniently accessed, so you could demand a spare and swap that in if needed, but for those people with just a person battery, charging will will need to be planned.

Fairphone has labored really hard to hold improvement expenses down all spherical, and this is reflected in the main components. The Snapdragon 632 chipset with 4GB of RAM is the exact as in past year’s Fairphone three, but it however turned in reasonable Geekbench 5 scores: 269 (single main) and 1208 (multi main). For comparison, flagship-class handsets like the Snapdragon 865-centered OnePlus eight score around 900 and 3300 respectively.

There’s just 64GB of inside storage, of which thirteen.3GB was utilised out of the box on my overview unit, leaving fifty.7GB totally free. This is small by present day benchmarks, but you can increase a lot more storage via a MicroSD card. This isn’t a 5G handset, but it will take two SIMs — and you don’t have to sacrifice MicroSD enlargement to accommodate a 2nd SIM.

The Fairphone three+ operates Android 10, with no extras or bloatware aside from a person tiny app, which is a modest facts resource about Fairphone. As I compose, Android eleven has only just been introduced. Fairphone commits to five several years of software program updates, so Android eleven really should appear to it in due system.  


I’m utilised to seeing the newest aspect-packed smartphone telephones with their fancy industrial layout, or styles that intensify a person particular aspect, or test to supply a good selling price/efficiency ratio, or have some other element to shout about. The Fairphone three+ isn’t created to hold up with the pack, and to examine it to other handsets in phrases of ‘bang for buck’ somewhat misses the issue.

Audience will possibly like Fairphone’s ethical company design and go with it, or they will not. So if you are intrigued, choose a appear at what Fairphone is undertaking.

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Rosa G. Rose

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