Gadget

Fairphone 3 Plus Official: Even More Sustainable And With Improved Modules

In itself, the Fairphone 3 Plus, the new device from the Dutch niche manufacturer, does not deliver that ample amount of specifications for just a little too much money you pay for it. The extra penny you spend on it is for the planet and your conscience. 

Fairphone aims to boost the sustainability and environmental efficiency of smartphones. Fairphone sells and promotes modular smartphones, which means the bulk of its parts can quickly be fixed and upgraded, and Fairphone 3+ takes this concept into account. Every year the newest and biggest smartphone manufacturer launches hundreds of smartphones, and witnessing the progress in this field is an amazing experience. But, Fairphone’s sustainable approach is very different and exciting as well.

With every unit manufactured, the plastic used in its construction is recycled. It’s worth mentioning that, the Fairphone 3 and 3+ uses 40% of the recycled plastic throughout its body. Fairphone also has programs to improve conditions in China for factory workers. Fairphone initiates many efforts that larger smartphone giants and we don’t even think about. 

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Inside the Box

You’ll find immediately after opening the box that the FairPhone 3+ is the odd one out: it doesn’t even have a charger! Because, of course, this is FairPhone. Putting an extra USB-C adapter in the box does not adhere to the sustainability ideology of this Dutch smartphone manufacturer as the customer has past phones in the drawer.

The screwdriver is another striking item in the box. This also corresponds to the Dutch brand’s unique approach — you can dismantle and repair your FairPhone quickly. As a consumer, you can repair a device that breaks down, on your own. Everything you need to do is, have the components needed to repair it. Plus, upgrading your smartphone doesn’t always mean buying a new one when you’re on FairPhone. You may order a new display, lens, or processor module online and put them in their respective position.

When we took the FairPhone 3+ out of its modest but flashy printed cardboard packaging, we get a device that feels robust. And when we turn it on, you will immediately notice the clear screen – with a resolution that is just above Full HD,  and fringe-free software — Android 10. At the top and bottom of the display, there are relatively large bezels, which forces the screen to be one of the smallest among modern smartphones.

As said earlier, everyone can disassemble the smartphone by lifting the back cover. And that’s what makes this smartphone unique. The first thing we noticed was the removable battery, which is increasingly rare, particularly in the segment which is not entry-level. Around the handset, there are altogether 13 screws that you can take out, and with Fairphone, the offering goes far by providing one screwdriver in the box, supplying you with all the tools you need to open it. We can use our bare hands to raise the monitor after the screws are detached, which gives access to all the modules of the smartphone.

Performance

The Fairphone 3+ retains most of the internals from the previous year, including the Snapdragon 632 chipset and 4GB RAM. The RAM is not a weak point in terms of day-to-day use, with which you can still juggle many tasks reasonably well. There are times when you may realize that this smartphone is not for you. The network connection got interrupted many times, the image processing was slow, and sometimes you cannot switch between apps seamlessly. This suggests that instead of a two-year-old chip, Fairphone can use modern-day processors.

The 3,040mAh, in terms of battery capacity, feels small according to current expectations. It is quite difficult to last through the day if the user goes a little heavier on his/her usage. It would be fine enough for mild to moderate use, but users need assurance that if they need to, they can drive their phone a little bit further. The audio module has been improved if compared with Fairphone 3, which should improve the sound quality.

Camera and Audio

In terms of camera, FairPhone does not participate in the current auction of multi-lenses devices. There is a single camera at the back, but with a solid 48-megapixel lens, a great camera app, and fast and efficient autofocus. The front camera even has a 16 MP resolution, which is completely in line with the expectations of the moment. Because the Fairphone 3 Plus uses the same modular housing as its predecessor, you can detach the camera modules. Anyone who has a Fairphone 3 can buy the modules separately to improve their smartphone. With this strategy, the manufacturer wants to extend the life of a phone. 

A three-year-old processor and an increased pixel lens do not provide the expected image clarity. Increasing the resolution of the sensor to 48MP, the processing power would feel a little more insufficient. It allows 4K recording of up to 30 frames per second and also supports 1080p recording of 120 frames per second, but does not allow 60 frames per second in any of the resolutions. It’s strange, but Fairphone 3+ lacks it. 

The Fairphone 3+ speaker is mounted on the side of the unit. The performance of the speaker is loud and clear, but the bass is further stripped. Fairphone 3+ can be a perfect option when viewing videos or streaming content in landscape mode, since at the time your hand does not cover the speaker module, but it is less desirable for portrait use. 

Specs

Display5.65 inches IPS LCD (1080 x 2160 pixels)
ProcessorSnapdragon 632 (14 nm)
Memory4/64 GB
Rear Camera48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
Front Camera16 MP, f/2.0, (wide), 1/3.1″
BatteryLi-Ion 3040 mAh, removable (charger not included)
SD CardDedicated Slot
USBType-C 2.0
Dimension158 x 71.8 x 9.9 mm
Weight189 g
BiometricFingerprint (rear-mounted)
ColorsBlack
Price€439

Verdict

We endorse the concept of a smartphone that has been planned and manufactured to be sustainable and is something that is certainly expected to be followed by other manufacturers as well. But the industry and end-users rely heavily on repeated update cycles and higher performance devices. In all major units of the user’s preference, the device lacks either performance or design. With a large embezzled style, the screen viewing isn’t going to be great, and the old processor can even make the experience worse.

An individual with the same interest and the same strategy can justify the price tag. After all, the system is not unusable, but in modern days no one’s preference might be to be in company philosophy. Overall, it is expensive regardless of how valuable it is.

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