The third smartphone from Fairphone continues to buck phone trends. Not only does the Fairphone 3 have a headphone jack, a microSD card, and a removable battery, but the smartphone also has six modular components that are designed to be easy to remove and replace.
Fairphone says that means the phone could have a longer lifespan than most other devices. If the camera, display, battery, or USB port need to be replaced, you can easily buy a spare part and fix it yourself.
Like Fairphone’s earlier devices, the Fairphone 3 is also built using ethically-sourced components wherever possible.
So what’s new? The specs. The Fairphone 3 may not be a high-end device, but it’s the organization’s first new smartphone since 2015, so its mid-range specs still seem like a substantial upgrade over the Fairphone 2.
The Fairphone 3 goes up for pre-order in Europe today for 450 Euros, and it should be available from select retailers starting September 3rd.
Here’s a run-down of the new hardware:
- 5.7 inch, FHD 18:9 display with Gorilla Glass 5
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- microSD card reader
- WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS,
- 12MP rear and 8MP front camera modules
- Android 9 Pie
- Dual nano-SIM
- 3,000 mAh removable battery
- fast charging support
But those specs only tell part of the story.
Fairphone says by making the phone easy to repair, it can reduce its lifetime carbon footprint by 30-percent by allowing you to use a single device for a longer time rather than upgrading to a new phone every year or two.
Unlike just about any other phone I’m aware of, the Fairphone 3 even comes with a mini screwdriver in the box. And replacement modules are available from the Fairphone website, making it relatively easy to repair or replace a broken camera, speaker, display, or other components such as the battery or the top module (with the front camera, headphone jack, and proximity sensor), or bottom module (with the microphone and vibration motor).
Fairphone is a social enterprise, which means that unlike a normal company, profit isn’t the organization’s only purpose. In addition to trying to source materials from conflict-free sources, Fairphone tries to ensure that the organizations it works with engage in fair labor practices.
The group says it’s currently working with its assembly partner, Arima, to “improve employee satisfaction by improving worker representation, health and safety, and by paying a bonus to workers with the aim to bridge the gap between miniumum and living wages in the factory.”
As for materials, the Fairphone 3 is made using recycled plastic and copper, fair trade gold, and tin and tungsten that’s not sourced from conflict zones. Fairphone says it’s still working on finding a better source of cobolt.
Fairphone says its phones are designed for the European market and will only be sold there for now. It may be usable in the United States, but Fairphone doesn’t guarantee that it’ll support North American 4G networks.