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


Picture: Fairphone

When you purchase a handset from Amsterdam-dependent Fairphone, you might be not obtaining just another smartphone: you might be obtaining into moral production, and supporting a organization that ploughs income again into techniques that advantage personnel at the coalface of the handset field. 

The most current £425 (inc. VAT) Fairphone 3+ is produced from forty% recycled plastic, and has a modular design so that users can swap new components for old, or change something that is damaged instead than only obtaining an totally new handset. A measure of the accomplishment of this upgradable product is the Fairphone 3’s ten/ten repairability score from iFixit.


The 5.sixty five-inch Fairphone 3+ 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 3+ product comes with a 48MP primary digital camera and a 16MP selfie digital camera, to which entrepreneurs of the 12MP/8MP Fairphone 3 can improve.

Photos: Fairphone

The key attribute of the Fairphone 3+ when compared to 2019’s Fairphone 3 is current cameras at the front and rear. The primary digital camera now has a 48MP sensor and an f/1.79 lens, even though the selfie digital camera has a 16MP sensor and an f/2. lens. The other specs are really much similar, other than for a a bit louder speaker on the 3+ product, so Fairphone 3 entrepreneurs can think about obtaining one or both equally of the current cameras to self-install.

The cameras shoot sensible place-and-click on pics, but performance is constrained and if you might be truly fascinated in smartphone photography, you are going to want to search in other places. No one is heading to purchase the Fairphone 3+ mainly because of its digital camera.

The stark black plastic backplate incorporates a fingerprint reader and the Fairphone branding as well as an NFC marker and a small lozenge that homes the solitary rear digital camera and its flash unit. The again has a matte finish, generating it pleasingly grippy. 

At 9.89mm thick, the Fairphone 3+ looks and feels chunky. On its remaining edge there’s a textured electrical power button and a pair of quantity rockers. They’re produced from plastic, there’s no click on when they are made use of, and they come to feel a minor unresponsive. Even now, they do their work perfectly well.

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

The leading edge has a 3.5mm headset jack, and there’s a USB-C cost/relationship port on the bottom. You will not get a headset, cost cable or mains plug with the Fairphone 3+. If you want these you can purchase them separately, but many individuals previously have these goods and can only repurpose them. You will find no speedy-charging to accommodate in this article, so you can go with a typical charging set up, indicating that one much more charging package and headset has not experienced to be produced.

Flagship handset makers discuss up their screens with capabilities like bezel-absolutely free layouts and higher refresh rates, but Fairphone sticks to a much more fundamental — but perfectly serviceable — screen. The 5.sixty five-inch IPS Liquid crystal display has a resolution of 2,one hundred sixty by 1,080 pixels (427ppi) and is perfectly superior sufficient for exhibiting text and online video. Gorilla Glass 5 provides it some protection versus knocks, and even though there just isn’t a pre-fitted monitor protector, if you want one it ought to be straightforward sufficient to acquire. The extended edge bezels are a pair of millimetres extensive, even though the leading and bottom bezels both equally exceed 10mm, ensuing in a moderate monitor-to-body ratio of seventy two.5%. The Fairphone branding disguises the bottom bezel to some extent, even though the leading bezel homes a notification mild, the front digital camera and the front speaker. 

This speaker functions as a next outlet for audio, with the primary speaker on the bottom edge, to the remaining. Audio output is bad, with a negligible-bass, tinny top quality.


Fairphone 3+ disassembled (the cell phone comes with a screwdriver for the career). You can change the primary and selfie cameras, the screen, the battery, the bottom module (vibration motor, USB-C port, primary mic) and the speaker module.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The other, much more important, weak place is the battery. At 3,040mAh it really is really tiny, and has a claimed lifestyle of 20 hours. The Fairphone 3+ just about lasted a day for me and managed twelve hours forty nine minutes on the PCMark for Android battery rundown take a look at. In my typical a few-hour YouTube streaming take a look at it dropped 31% of a total cost. It is slow to recharge, getting 3.5 hours to go from zero to one hundred%. The one conserving grace is that the battery is effortlessly accessed, so you could cost a spare and swap that in if required, but for individuals with just one battery, charging will will need to be planned.

Fairphone has worked tough to hold progress fees down all spherical, and this is mirrored in the main hardware. The Snapdragon 632 chipset with 4GB of RAM is the identical as in previous year’s Fairphone 3, but it nonetheless turned in sensible Geekbench 5 scores: 269 (solitary main) and 1208 (multi main). For comparison, flagship-class handsets like the Snapdragon 865-dependent OnePlus eight score around 900 and 3300 respectively.

You will find just 64GB of inside storage, of which thirteen.3GB was made use of out of the box on my critique unit, leaving 50.7GB absolutely free. This is low by present day standards, but you can include much more storage via a MicroSD card. This just isn’t a 5G handset, but it will acknowledge two SIMs — and you will not have to sacrifice MicroSD growth to accommodate a next SIM.

The Fairphone 3+ operates Android ten, with no extras or bloatware aside from one small application, which is a tiny information and facts resource about Fairphone. As I produce, Android eleven has only just been introduced. Fairphone commits to 5 a long time of software package updates, so Android eleven ought to occur to it in because of class.  


I’m made use of to observing the most current attribute-packed smartphone phones with their extravagant industrial design, or styles that intensify one precise attribute, or test to supply a good selling price/overall performance ratio, or have some other element to shout about. The Fairphone 3+ just isn’t developed to hold up with the pack, and to compare it to other handsets in conditions of ‘bang for buck’ instead misses the place.

Visitors will possibly like Fairphone’s moral business product and go with it, or they will not. So if you might be intrigued, consider a search at what Fairphone is accomplishing.

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