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Fairphone 3 Review: The Most Sustainable Smartphone in the World!

Fairphone is trying to create a fairer and more sustainable electronics industry and with the Fairphone 3, claim to have created the most environmentally friendly smartphone in the world. This includes responsible material sourcing, advocating for workers’ welfare, producing longer-lasting products and reducing waste.

Design/Display

As well as being the most environmentally friendly smartphone in the world, the Fairphone 3 is also a nifty device!

 The 5.65-inch Full HD+ IPS display is smaller than most flagships currently on the market, but this might not be a bad thing for all of you looking for a pocket friendly device. With a pixel resolution of 2160 x 1080 at 427ppi the quality is certainly there and allows for good colours and even better viewing angles; characteristic of an IPS panel. The screen itself is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5 that should help against any unwanted bruises.

The body of the device is noticeably large though, measuring 158 x 71.88 x 9.89mm and weighing 189g. It is a modular system though, so that you can replace each component if it breaks. Indeed, the screwdriver in box means that you can do this yourself, as Fairphone sells replacement modules on its website. iFixit gave the Fairphone 3 a perfect score for repairability and this should enable use of the smartphone for longer than its counterparts.

Despite this, the device itself is surprisingly attractive, with a semi-opaque polycarbonate back that allows you to see some of the internals as well as this slogan, ‘Change is in your hands’. There’s also a fingerprint scanner to the rear which has been pleasantly speedy in our time with the device and doesn’t attract smudges like other devices. A 3.5mm headphone jack is also at the top of the device, whilst the Fairphone 3 has dual speakers with stereo sound, reaching 95dB at max volume.

  •  5.65-inch Full HD+ IPS display 
  • 2160 x 1080 
  • 427ppi
  • Gorilla Glass 5 
  • 158 x 71.88 x 9.89mm
  • 189g
  • Semi-opaque design 
  • Fingerprint scanner 
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Camera

Moving slightly up, the Fairphone 3 houses a 12MP rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture. This is a Sony IMX363 sensor and is also found on the Pixel 3a, with autofocus, HDR and phase detection. Google’s software is far superior, however the Fairphone 3 does allow for digital zoom at up to 8 times – but results are certainly grainy.

Indeed, with only one lens, the Fairphone 3 is at a clear disadvantage when it comes to depth estimation for bokeh as it relies solely on its ability to detect a person in an image. The results aren’t too bad; however isolation and more jagged edges are often inaccurate.

Pro Mode is also featured and allows you tweak a number of factors including ISO, type of focus, filters and contrast. But general shots, without filters applied are generally very good with vivid colours and accurate detail.

If selfies are more your thing, then the Fairphone 3 has an 8MP front camera with an f/2.0 aperture and HDR. This also supports 8x digital zoom and portrait shooting, however, does not include Beauty Mode or other similar features. Overall, colour reproduction is pretty good, and details are accurate without being crisp.

You can also record 4K video at up to 30fps, 1080p @ 30fps and 720p @ 60fps. Video recording is boosted by digital stabilisation which allows for relatively shake-free video, whilst colours on the whole are vivid with acceptable levels of detail.

  • 12MP rear camera; Sony IMX363; f/1.8 aperture  
  • Autofocus, HDR, phase detection 
  • 8x digital zoom 
  • 8MP front camera; f/2.0 aperture; HDR
  • 4K @ 30fps; 1080p @ 30fps; 720p @ 60fps

Performance

On the performance side of things, the Fairphone 3 runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 632, coupled with 4GB RAM. For basic day-to-day use, this is more than sufficient, however probably isn’t the device for you if you’re an avid gamer. You’re also looking at 64GB of internal memory, expandable with a microSD card up to 400GB.

Android 9.0 (Pie) ships in box, with security and software updates guaranteed for up to five years from release. 

In keeping with the sustainability of Fairphone, the 3,000mAh battery is easily replaceable by pulling off the back cover. This is a decent battery size, giving 20 hours of talk time overall. The Fairphone 3 accepts a USB Type-C cable and Quick Charge 3.0 is also supported so that you can charge from 0-100% within 3 and a half hours.

The Fairphone 3 is also IP54 rated, meaning that it is protected against dust, as well as being protected against sprays from all directions. So, you can use the device without too much issue in the rain, but if you drop it in a puddle, you may face issues.

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 332; 4GB RAM 
  • 64GB internal storage
  • MicroSD support up to 400GB 
  • Android 9.0 (Pie) 
  • 3,000mAh battery; 20hrs talk time 
  • USB Type-C 
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • IP54 rating