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

Picture: Fairphone When you acquire a handset from Amsterdam-based Fairphone, you are not obtaining just


Picture: Fairphone

When you acquire a handset from Amsterdam-based Fairphone, you are not obtaining just a different smartphone: you are obtaining into ethical production, and supporting a business that ploughs funds again into schemes that profit workers at the coalface of the handset industry. 

The most recent £425 (inc. VAT) Fairphone three+ is made from forty% recycled plastic, and has a modular structure so that users can swap new sections for previous, or exchange something which is damaged alternatively than basically obtaining an entirely new handset. A evaluate of the success of this upgradable product is the Fairphone 3’s 10/10 repairability score from iFixit.


The 5.sixty five-inch Fairphone three+ runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 632 platform with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inner storage, and accommodates two SIMs and a MicroSD card. The three+ product arrives with a 48MP key digital camera and a 16MP selfie digital camera, to which owners of the 12MP/8MP Fairphone three can update.

Pictures: Fairphone

The critical attribute of the Fairphone three+ in contrast to 2019’s Fairphone three is up to date cameras at the entrance and rear. The key digital camera now has a 48MP sensor and an f/1.79 lens, although the selfie digital camera has a 16MP sensor and an f/2. lens. The other requirements are really a lot identical, other than for a slightly louder speaker on the three+ product, so Fairphone three owners can take into account obtaining a single or equally of the up to date cameras to self-put in.

The cameras shoot affordable stage-and-simply click images, but performance is minimal and if you are actually interested in smartphone images, you can expect to want to search in other places. No-a single is going to acquire the Fairphone three+ for the reason that of its digital camera.

The stark black plastic backplate incorporates a fingerprint reader and the Fairphone branding as very well as an NFC marker and a little lozenge that houses the one rear digital camera and its flash device. The again has a matte complete, producing it pleasingly grippy. 

At nine.89mm thick, the Fairphone three+ appears to be and feels chunky. On its still left edge there is certainly a textured electrical power button and a pair of volume rockers. They’re made from plastic, there is certainly no simply click when they’re made use of, and they feel a tiny unresponsive. Even now, they do their work opportunities beautifully very well.

The top edge has a three.5mm headset jack, and there is certainly a USB-C cost/link port on the base. You never get a headset, cost cable or mains plug with the Fairphone three+. If you want these you can acquire them individually, but quite a few individuals already have these products and can basically repurpose them. You can find no speedy-charging to accommodate in this article, so you can go with a standard charging set up, that means that a single a lot more charging kit and headset has not experienced to be produced.

Flagship handset makers converse up their screens with features like bezel-absolutely free types and substantial refresh premiums, but Fairphone sticks to a a lot more basic — but beautifully serviceable — display. The 5.sixty five-inch IPS Lcd has a resolution of 2,one hundred sixty by 1,080 pixels (427ppi) and is beautifully very good sufficient for displaying textual content and video clip. Gorilla Glass 5 gives it some defense towards knocks, and although there isn’t a pre-equipped display protector, if you want a single it should really be easy sufficient to get. The extensive edge bezels are a few of millimetres wide, although the top and base bezels equally exceed 10mm, resulting in a moderate display-to-system ratio of seventy two.5%. The Fairphone branding disguises the base bezel to some extent, although the top bezel houses a notification gentle, the entrance digital camera and the entrance speaker. 

This speaker functions as a next outlet for audio, with the key speaker on the base edge, to the still left. Seem output is lousy, with a negligible-bass, tinny high-quality.


Fairphone three+ disassembled (the cell phone arrives with a screwdriver for the task). You can exchange the key and selfie cameras, the display, the battery, the base module (vibration motor, USB-C port, main mic) and the speaker module.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The other, a lot more critical, weak stage is the battery. At three,040mAh it truly is really compact, and has a claimed daily life of twenty hrs. The Fairphone three+ just about lasted a day for me and managed twelve hrs forty nine minutes on the PCMark for Android battery rundown test. In my standard a few-hour YouTube streaming test it dropped 31% of a complete cost. It is slow to recharge, using three.5 hrs to go from zero to one hundred%. The a single preserving grace is that the battery is easily accessed, so you could cost a spare and swap that in if desired, but for these with just a single battery, charging will will need to be prepared.

Fairphone has labored really hard to hold enhancement expenses down all round, and this is reflected in the core components. The Snapdragon 632 chipset with 4GB of RAM is the exact same as in very last year’s Fairphone three, but it even now turned in affordable Geekbench 5 scores: 269 (one core) and 1208 (multi core). For comparison, flagship-course handsets like the Snapdragon 865-based OnePlus eight score about 900 and 3300 respectively.

You can find just 64GB of inner storage, of which thirteen.3GB was made use of out of the box on my overview device, leaving 50.7GB absolutely free. This is very low by present-day criteria, but you can increase a lot more storage through a MicroSD card. This isn’t a 5G handset, but it will accept two SIMs — and you never have to sacrifice MicroSD expansion to accommodate a next SIM.

The Fairphone three+ runs Android 10, with no extras or bloatware aside from a single little app, which is a compact info resource about Fairphone. As I publish, Android eleven has only just been unveiled. Fairphone commits to 5 a long time of computer software updates, so Android eleven should really appear to it in due program.  


I’m made use of to viewing the most recent attribute-packed smartphone phones with their fancy industrial structure, or models that accentuate a single particular attribute, or consider to deliver a excellent cost/performance ratio, or have some other factor to shout about. The Fairphone three+ isn’t designed to hold up with the pack, and to compare it to other handsets in phrases of ‘bang for buck’ alternatively misses the stage.

Viewers will either like Fairphone’s ethical organization product and go with it, or they won’t. So if you are intrigued, just take a search at what Fairphone is doing.

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