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


Image: Fairphone

When you purchase a handset from Amsterdam-based mostly Fairphone, you are not acquiring just one more smartphone: you are acquiring into ethical producing, and supporting a corporation that ploughs dollars back into techniques that advantage staff at the coalface of the handset marketplace. 

The most current £425 (inc. VAT) Fairphone 3+ is designed from forty{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} recycled plastic, and has a modular design so that users can swap new sections for old, or substitute anything which is damaged rather than merely acquiring an entirely new handset. A evaluate of the success of this upgradable model is the Fairphone 3’s ten/ten repairability score from iFixit.


The five.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+ model will come with a 48MP main digicam and a 16MP selfie digicam, to which house owners of the 12MP/8MP Fairphone 3 can upgrade.

Images: Fairphone

The critical feature of the Fairphone 3+ in comparison to 2019’s Fairphone 3 is current cameras at the front and rear. The main digicam now has a 48MP sensor and an f/1.79 lens, even though the selfie digicam has a 16MP sensor and an f/2. lens. The other specifications are quite significantly similar, except for a a little bit louder speaker on the 3+ model, so Fairphone 3 house owners can take into consideration acquiring one particular or equally of the current cameras to self-install.

The cameras shoot realistic position-and-click on pictures, but features is confined and if you are truly interested in smartphone photography, you can want to appear in other places. No-one particular is going to purchase the Fairphone 3+ for the reason that of its digicam.

The stark black plastic backplate incorporates a fingerprint reader and the Fairphone branding as perfectly as an NFC marker and a small lozenge that houses the solitary rear digicam and its flash device. The back has a matte finish, creating it pleasingly grippy. 

At 9.89mm thick, the Fairphone 3+ appears to be and feels chunky. On its remaining edge there’s a textured ability button and a pair of volume rockers. They’re designed from plastic, there’s no click on when they are made use of, and they sense a tiny unresponsive. Continue to, they do their positions perfectly perfectly.

The prime edge has a 3.5mm headset jack, and there’s a USB-C demand/link port on the bottom. You really don’t get a headset, demand cable or mains plug with the Fairphone 3+. If you want these you can purchase them individually, but quite a few people today previously have these products and can merely repurpose them. You can find no quick-charging to accommodate right here, so you can go with a standard charging set up, meaning that one particular extra charging kit and headset has not experienced to be made.

Flagship handset makers chat up their screens with characteristics like bezel-free of charge layouts and superior refresh charges, but Fairphone sticks to a extra simple — but perfectly serviceable — exhibit. The five.sixty five-inch IPS Liquid crystal display has a resolution of 2,160 by 1,080 pixels (427ppi) and is perfectly very good plenty of for exhibiting textual content and online video. Gorilla Glass five presents it some defense versus knocks, and even though there is just not a pre-equipped display protector, if you want one particular it should be easy plenty of to attain. The lengthy edge bezels are a pair of millimetres extensive, even though the prime and bottom bezels equally exceed 10mm, ensuing in a moderate display-to-entire body ratio of seventy two.five{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f}. The Fairphone branding disguises the bottom bezel to some extent, even though the prime bezel houses a notification light, the front digicam and the front speaker. 

This speaker functions as a 2nd outlet for audio, with the main speaker on the bottom edge, to the remaining. Sound output is bad, with a minimal-bass, tinny quality.


Fairphone 3+ disassembled (the phone will come with a screwdriver for the work). You can substitute the main and selfie cameras, the exhibit, the battery, the bottom module (vibration motor, USB-C port, main mic) and the speaker module.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The other, extra critical, weak position is the battery. At 3,040mAh it can be quite little, and has a claimed everyday living of 20 several hours. The Fairphone 3+ just about lasted a day for me and managed 12 several hours forty nine minutes on the PCMark for Android battery rundown examination. In my standard three-hour YouTube streaming examination it dropped 31{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} of a comprehensive demand. It is sluggish to recharge, getting 3.five several hours to go from zero to 100{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f}. The one particular saving grace is that the battery is very easily accessed, so you could demand a spare and swap that in if necessary, but for those with just one particular battery, charging will have to have to be prepared.

Fairphone has labored really hard to preserve improvement expenses down all round, and this is reflected in the core hardware. The Snapdragon 632 chipset with 4GB of RAM is the same as in past year’s Fairphone 3, but it even now turned in realistic Geekbench five scores: 269 (solitary core) and 1208 (multi core). For comparison, flagship-class handsets like the Snapdragon 865-based mostly OnePlus eight score all around 900 and 3300 respectively.

You can find just 64GB of inside storage, of which thirteen.3GB was made use of out of the box on my evaluation device, leaving fifty.7GB free of charge. This is lower by present-day benchmarks, but you can increase extra storage by using a MicroSD card. This is just not a 5G handset, but it will acknowledge two SIMs — and you really don’t have to sacrifice MicroSD expansion to accommodate a 2nd SIM.

The Fairphone 3+ operates Android ten, with no extras or bloatware aside from one particular small app, which is a little details source about Fairphone. As I produce, Android eleven has only just been released. Fairphone commits to five years of application updates, so Android eleven should come to it in owing study course.  


I’m made use of to observing the most current feature-packed smartphone telephones with their fancy industrial design, or products that intensify one particular particular feature, or try out to produce a terrific price/general performance ratio, or have some other part to shout about. The Fairphone 3+ is just not made to preserve up with the pack, and to compare it to other handsets in phrases of ‘bang for buck’ rather misses the position.

Visitors will possibly like Fairphone’s ethical organization model and go with it, or they will not likely. So if you are intrigued, acquire a appear at what Fairphone is performing.

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