Fairphone 3+ – even better for the environment

Basically, the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+ are similar. The difference is in the cameras, the speaker and the amount of recycled plastic (forty instead of nine percent). Android 10 is also included immediately this time. But how do you like the device?

Fairphone 3 Plus

Price € 470,-

Colour Matt black

OS Android 10

Screen 5.65 inch LCD (1080 by 2160 pixels)

Processor Snapdragon 632


Storage 128GB

Battery 3080 mAh

Camera 48 megapixel (rear), 16 megapixel (front)

Connectivity 4G, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC

Format 158 x 71.8 x 9.9mm

Weight 189 grams

Other dualsim, fingerprint scanner, micro sd card slot

Website Fairphone 8 Score 80

  • Pros
  • Sustainable
  • Easy to replace modules
  • Bare Android version
  • Upgrades up to Android 14
  • Negatives
  • Not the fastest hardware
  • Not the best camera
  • Camera software
  • Design looks outdated

Let's face it: many people buy a new smartphone too often. Some people find it a problem that they have to do it once every two or three years, others do it twice a year without thinking. Ultimately you have to know for yourself. It's your money, but that's not all that matters: all those smartphones (along with other electronics products) are an environmental attack.

And that is what Fairphone has based its business model on. The manufacturer makes durable devices. Not only are suppliers better paid, you can also easily replace certain parts. So you do not have to pay high repair costs and you are not tempted to buy a new smartphone as soon as the old one is broken.

Specifications Fairphone 3 Plus

In 2019, Fairphone released the Fairphone 3. Exactly one year later, the Fairphone 3+ is now available. Both devices are fundamentally very similar. There is (once again) a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632, which is accompanied by 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. The specifications make for a relatively slow smartphone, but fortunately that experience is not disturbing. If you use your device for some messaging and phone calls, you should be fine.

You can also insert a micro SD card into the device by removing the battery. The battery has a capacity of 3040 mAh. This will get you through a day, but keep in mind that you have to charge it at the end of that day. Wireless charging is not available, this is done via a USB-C cable.

Saving the environment

That USB-C cable is not included. That happens for a reason. Fairphone believes that you already have such a cable and charger that you can use. If not, you can order another one separately on the website. Apple is now trying to do the same trick with the Apple Watch Series 6. That smartwatch does not come with a charger in the box. The company sells that as eco-saving, but in this case it's more about cost-saving. And we don't detect that idea when it comes to the Fairphone 3+. The approach is different, because the entire company culture is different. And there is something to be said for that.

The Fairphone 3+ has six parts that you can replace if they break. Or if you just want to upgrade them of course. The idea behind this is that you can make your phone feel somewhat modern or new, without immediately buying a new one. On the manufacturer's website you will see an overview of available parts. Examples are the new cameras and the matte black back. And the great thing is: if you have a Fairphone 3, you can also use those parts in your old smartphone. Can you leave those 3+ behind? Saves again.

Replacing the parts is very simple. You remove the battery and unscrew all the screws. Then carefully push the screen out, so that you can easily reach the separate modules. With the camera you first have to remove the ribbon cable, but then you unscrew the screws here too and easily push the module out. You place the new camera, plug it back in, put in the screws and you're done. If you can't figure it out, Fairphone has all kinds of tutorials on YouTube. Replacement is therefore easy and accessible, also thanks to the fact that a small Philips screwdriver is included. So as long as you have it to hand, you can use the six different parts of your Fairphone 3 Plus+.

Video and audio

One of the replaceable parts is the screen. And let that just be, together with the back, a part of a smartphone that very often sustains a lot of damage. So it's a good thing that you can replace the display without too much hassle and knowledge.

The LCD screen is 5.65 inches in size, has a Full HD+ resolution, a screen ratio of 18:9 and a pixel density of 427 pixels per inch (ppi). Anything above 400 ppi produces a nice picture and we can also draw that conclusion with the Fairphone 3+. The screen is not excellent and even suffers a little bit from a ghosting effect (whereby residual images are still visible after a moving image), but otherwise colors are reproduced fairly accurately. You can view great photos and videos on this; for everyday use it just looks neat. Letters are perfectly legible. The viewing angle is not very large, but fortunately that is not the most important thing.

The speaker on the Fairphone 3+ is also this time on the left side of the device. Might be useful for people who are right-handed, but this left-hander doesn't always like it. The audio is constantly obscured as the held phone leans against the palm. And right-handers should make sure that they do not have their finger on that speaker. It is a great solution for when you watch videos horizontally, because your hand is not in front of the speaker at that time, but for vertical use it is less desirable. We must say that the speaker sounds better than its predecessor. The audio sounds clear, but is otherwise devoid of bass.

Camera upgrades

The new camera module is much better than the module introduced with the previous Fairphone. The 48 megapixel camera shoots colorful and detailed photos, but you do need enough light for that. If it is just a bit too dark, you will notice that the camera is having a hard time. Artifacts are then created and the quality generally decreases.

It is striking, however, that you cannot shoot the photos in full resolution. You make them standard in 12 megapixels (whereby the pixels are therefore combined for more light and detail). Furthermore, the autofocus is nice and fast and you can now use object tracking and scene optimization. There is no optical zoom, but you can digitally zoom in up to eight times.

There are also some annoying things. In normal photo mode, tapping to focus also immediately takes the photo. The Pro mode does not do that. In addition, you can shoot 4k videos at 60 fps, but not full HD videos; that is only possible in 30 fps or 120 fps. The slow-motion images look fine, but otherwise not impressive.

For example, the iPhone SE 2020 or the Google Pixel 4a falls in the same price category. Both smartphones take much better photos than the cameras on the Fairphone 3+. So that is something to take into account.

Android 10 to Android 14

The device comes directly with Android 10. Despite the somewhat outdated hardware, the device still feels modern. So you can enjoy everything that Android 10 has to offer: the new features and the extra security. The security update is on August 5, 2020, so the device is slightly behind the rest. It is good to know that Fairphone plans to release five upgrades, so that you can use the phone undisturbed and safely until the release of Android 14. That really benefits the durability.

Android 10 on the Fairphone 3+ is quite stripped down. But that is a positive point in this feeling. The phone is equipped with only the standard Google apps. You get one app from Fairphone with it, but you can switch it off. This gives you access to vanilla Android, which provides a positive experience for many users. There is no bloatware and there are no unnecessary features that you do not use anyway. It is also striking that the device comes standard with the old-fashioned navigation keys in the picture, but luckily you can change that to the new way of navigating (namely with the new gestures).

Fairphone 3+ – conclusion

Let's be honest. For an amount of 470 euros you can get better smartphones. In the field of good software, you can go to Nokia and the OnePlus Nord, among others, and in terms of camera work, the Pixel 4 and the iPhone SE 2020 do wonders for about the same amount. However, the reason you go for a Fairphone is because you attach different values ​​to your smartphone use.

You think it is important that such a device is sustainable and good for the environment. And in that regard, Fairphone is the only one of its kind. By being able to exchange the modules and the five promised upgrades, you don't have to buy another device in the coming years, which is ultimately better for the environment. Yes, the Fairphone 3+ has outdated hardware, but for the average user (those who WhatsApp, make phone calls and share photos and videos) it will pass. However, don't expect to play well on this.

In any case, it's good to see that Fairphone continues to make new modules and invest more in recycled plastic. In this, the manufacturer is really an example for Google, Apple and Samsung, among others. At the bottom of the line, you choose the Fairphone 3+ because you support the ideals of the company, not because you are looking for a smartphone that offers a lot for little money.

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