Home / Fairphone 3 / Fairphone 3 review: A surprisingly great repairable phone with one fatal flaw

Fairphone 3 review: A surprisingly great repairable phone with one fatal flaw

Article Contents

  • 1 Specs
  • 2 The Good
  • 3 The Not So Good
  • 4 Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field
  • 5 Software program, efficiency, and battery
  • 6 Digicam
  • 7 Do you have to purchase it?

    • 7.1 Purchase it if:
    • 7.2 Do not buy it if:
    • 7.3 The place to purchase:

The creators behind the Fairphone tout a particular mission that contrasts sharply with the remainder of the trade: They need to create repairable, long-lasting gadgets sourced from the fairest attainable sources. In fact, this implies compromises you will not see in different trendy telephones. The benefit of the detachable again and the replaceable components makes the Fairphone Three greater, much less environment friendly, and extra “old school” than different telephones. Plus, some efficiency sacrifices needed to be made to maintain the value affordable.

When you admire iFixit’s 10/10 repairability rating and Fairphone’s “Made with look after individuals and planet” catchphrase, this would possibly simply be the right machine. As a result of it is so simply repairable, this cellphone can virtually definitely outlast many others that get tossed due to a damaged display or dying battery. Regardless of the resilient {hardware}, efficiency may become a dealbreaker in the long term.


Show5.65-inch Full HD+ 18:9 LCD, 2160 x 1080, 427ppi
Software programAndroid 9 Pie
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 632
Storage64GB (expandable by way of microSD)
Battery3060mAh (replaceable)
Rear digicam12MP f/1.Eight half of.55″ IMX363 sensor
Entrance digicam8MP f/2.zero 1/4″ sensor
Connectivity2.4 & 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 & LE
Service compatibility2x nano SIM, 4G/LTE frequencies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 20, 26
Miscellaneous3.5mm headphone jack, NFC
Dimensions158 x 71.Eight x 9.89mm, 189g
ColorationDarkish Translucent
Value€450 (~$500)

The Good

ModularityThis cellphone provides you peace of thoughts regarding longevity. Dropped it? Substitute the show your self. Battery sporting out? Simply pop in a brand new one. USB port or speaker damaged? Get a brand new backside module.
Battery enduranceThe mixture of a somewhat weak processor and a relatively large battery make this factor final. I may simply get by means of a full day of use with excess of 5 hours of screen-on time.
Plastic improbableThough it is modular, the Fairphone would not squeak or creak, and feels very sturdy within the hand. The plastic feels good, paying homage to the translucent Sport Boy Coloration of outdated.

The Not So Good

Huge and chunkyIn comparison with the equally outfitted Pixel 3a, it is a chonk boy.
EfficiencyThe processor is sluggish and stutters on not-too-heavy web sites, which bodes badly for the long-term.
SpeakerResulting from its placement on the left aspect of the cellphone, you possibly can simply obscure it once you’re watching panorama content material.
Design, {hardware}It is repairability shines by means of: There are appreciable gaps and seams all around the machine, button placement is bizarre, and the entrance seems prefer it’s straight from 2012, sans 18:9 show. However this can be a matter of style and pattern.
DigicamIt has the identical sensor because the Pixel 3a, however its onboard software program would not make the most of the {hardware} the way in which Google’s does.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

Oh hello, headphone jack!

The Fairphone Three screams “I am repairable” as quickly as you see or contact it. It sports activities a “Change is in your fingers” slogan on the battery that you may see by means of its clear again and a “Designed to open” aid on the aspect. When you settle for this, the cellphone does include its personal sense of magnificence—I benefit from the traditional plastic feel and appear of the machine. The construct high quality itself is nice, too. The machine would not creak, and regardless of its clunkiness in comparison with equally outfitted telephones, it would not really feel outsized in my hand.

You may totally disassemble the Fairphone due to an included screwdriver/prying instrument.

The repairable design does have some damaging penalties. The fingerprint sensor inconveniently excessive on the again, making manner for the replaceable battery. As well as, the sensor simply would not work generally, claiming the floor is soiled. The location of the ability and quantity button to the left of the machine is not ultimate, and so they’re a bit mushy. The sideways-facing mono speaker can be bizarre and may be obstructed by your hand. Whereas the vibration motor is robust sufficient to be noticeable in your pockets, it’s abhorrently dangerous at offering tight suggestions when typing. Contemplating the cellphone is a centimeter thick, the battery capability appears somewhat small at 3060mAh, which is barely greater than you’ll find within the a lot denser Pixel 3—that is the value of modularity.

The USB port is off-center to raised make the most of the interior house.

The Full-HD+ LCD display will get shiny sufficient for many conditions, has okay-ish viewing angles, and colours appear principally advantageous, but it surely is not probably the most responsive to the touch and reacts somewhat slowly. It sits slightly deep contained in the chassis, which might be as a result of it is not laminated to the glass so it is extra simply replaceable.

The Fairphone Three is way bigger than different trendy telephones just like the Pixel 3.

The field is as minimal as it will possibly get. To keep away from pointless digital waste, Fairphone solely ships the machine itself, a guide, and a screwdriver that can assist you disassemble the cellphone. If you do not have a USB-C cable and charger already, you will need to buy one individually. We might often complain a few lacking charger, however that is per the Fairphone’s mission.

Software program, efficiency, and battery

Android 9 Pie on this cellphone is nearly a totally inventory model of the OS. Minor annoyances just like the extraordinarily large default show dimension and the always-visible provider title within the standing bar may be alleviated within the cellphone’s settings. There is not any bloatware to talk of—you will discover even fewer pre-installed apps right here than on the Pixel, and most of them are Google apps.

Efficiency is the one division the place the cellphone falls brief, in my view. The cellphone would not really feel very well-optimized for the Snapdragon 632, and equally priced merchandise have the a lot better SD670 chip. Web sites are inclined to stutter once you scroll, and it takes a bit too lengthy to open apps—it typically feels such as you’re driving this cellphone with the handbrake engaged. At the least functions have a tendency to remain in reminiscence lengthy sufficient, even with simply 4GB of RAM.

The battery life is stellar for me.

Whereas it is not the quickest cellphone on the market, the modest {hardware} will not less than offer you good battery life. In my two weeks of testing, I by no means as soon as managed to run the battery all the way in which down over the course of a day. That was the case even throughout my journey to Hamburg, after I used the machine way more than I usually would. On any given 16-hour-day, it simply achieves a screen-on time of greater than 5 hours, and I think about if I pushed it, it may transcend 6 or 7 hours. To provide you a body of reference, my Pixel Three tends to die after Three or Four hours of SOT.


The Fairphone has the identical IMX363 sensor you’ll find within the Pixel Three and 3a, however footage taken with the pre-installed digicam app usually are not on par with Google’s stellar outcomes. The software program is buggy and sluggish, routinely freezing once you begin it or after you have hit the shutter. At instances, I wasn’t certain if the cellphone even captured what I meant to seize due to these issues.

The photographs themselves are typically only a tiny bit underexposed, which led to manner too many “repair lighting” prompts in Google Photographs. The dynamic vary could possibly be higher, and colours are inclined to look duller than actual life. Low-light efficiency is the place the Fairphone’s easier digicam software program exhibits probably the most. Footage have unnatural colours and look grainy and underexposed. They can not examine to nighttime modes out there on different telephones.

The front-facing digicam has an honest wide-angle lens, and its pictures are equally advantageous in shiny situations.

Fortunately, you can provide the Fairphone’s IMX363 a push. A Google Digicam port really not meant for it really works surprisingly properly and considerably improves the outcomes.

Do you have to purchase it?

Fairphone 3


It relies upon. Though I am a sucker for modularity and I like the message behind Fairphone, it is arduous to advocate to anybody who is not a repairability nut. Efficiency is the most important problem right here — the Fairphone is already underpowered, and it’ll solely worsen over the subsequent few years. Coming variations of Android will in all probability require extra energy, so this mid-range SoC may not be very future-proof no matter how lengthy the corporate pushes updates (it goals for 5 years). It is also comparatively fairly costly, so that you’d need to maintain it for a very long time to get your cash’s price.

The Fairphone is attempting to do an vital factor, however a Pixel 3a may in all probability final many individuals virtually so long as the Fairphone thanks to 3 years of Google updates. It additionally provides a lot better efficiency and picture high quality. When you’re actually involved concerning the environmental influence of smartphones, think about using your present machine so long as attainable. One of the best product for the planet is one which is not produced newly in any respect.

Purchase it if:

  • You care concerning the atmosphere and are constructive that you may maintain this cellphone for a few years.
  • You need to have the ability to simply restore your machine your self.

Do not buy it if:

  • You need cutting-edge specs proper now so you do not have to fret about being left within the chilly over the subsequent few years.
  • You like smaller, extra densely packed {hardware}.

The place to purchase:

The cellphone and its spare components usually are not out there within the US. In Continental Europe and the UK, the Fairphone may be bought by means of the producer’s web site for €450, the place you will additionally discover a number of native shops carrying the machine.

About Manuel Vonau

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