The Fairphone 3 is a mid-range smartphone that stands out due to its easy-to-repair design that features components partially made from ethically-sourced materials.

When the phone launched last summer it was only available with Android 9. But folks who prefer a Google-free experience now have another option.

The /e/ foundation is selling the Fairphone 3 with /e/ OS for 480€ in Europe.

The /e/ operating system is a custom version of Android that’s been stripped of proprietary Google apps and services. It’s been in development for a few years and started out as an after-market replacement for the software that ships with supported smartphones.

Last summer the /e/ foundation began selling refurbished Samsung phones pre-loaded with /e/ as an alternative for folks that didn’t want to fiddle with unlocking bootloaders and loading custom ROMs.

But the Fairphone 3 is the first current-gen phone to be available with /e/ OS.

The /e/ edition of the phone has the same specs as the Android model sold by Fairphone and comes with the same 2-year warranty. If parts need to be replaced, you can also buy them from the Fairphone store — which sells displays, batteries, cameras, and other components.

You will pay a bit of a premium for an /e/ edition phone though — it costs about 30€ ($33) more than an Android-powered Fairphone 3. But the difference helps support the /e/ Foundation and removes the headache of installing a custom ROM on your own.

Existing customers can install /e/ for free though — you can find instructions at the /e/ Fairphone 3 documentation page.

The Fairphone 3 features a 5.65 inch, 2160 x 1080 pixel display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a rear fingerprint sensor, 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, USB Type-C port, WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, 4G LTE, and NFC support.

It also has a number of features which are increasingly rare on modern smartphones including a microSD card reader, 3.5mm audio jack, and removable battery (3,000 mAh).

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7 Comments

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  1. I like the idea of an alternative OS smartphone. But it’s a huge limitation NOT having Google Play or the Apple App Store available. A phone with no mainstream apps is only useful for phone calls, web browsing and checking email. For example, how can I get a Tinder date if I can’t install the Tinder app?

  2. got me the FP3, back when it was released

    it’s a nice phone, but the software still has some bugs (and missing features, like split screen) – and still hasn’t been upgraded to Android 10 (released even before the FP3)

    soon there will be Android 11 – taking any bets if we’ll ever see that update?

    also replaceable hardware – a great idea and the main reason I bought that thing! only it took more than half a year until replacement batteries were available. Same for Screens and stuff – I hope nobody had any hardware failures in that time.

  3. The display is too small at 5.65″. If they only made
    a version that was 6.5″, then it would be attractive.

  4. The $33 is definitely worth the amount of time saved trying to root and degoogle an android device. Because that’s a process that never really ends.
    Now if only they would sell it outside of Europe.
    …And, for my particular use case, if only it had video out over usb-c, but not everyone needs that.

    1. The problem, I mean your problem (sorry), why /e/ may not want to sell their phones including this Fairphone and their refurbished Samsung phones to customers in the US is because they are for the European or World bands (in this case the US is the outlier who doesn’t use standard mobile bands the rest of the world more or less agreed upon). So depending on how important is fast LTE for example to you or are you going to mostly use the net on Wi-Fi anyway, you may try to import these via a European friend (if you have one) or a proxy shopping service.

      On the other hand if you want to use American bands for Internet your biggest challenge would be finding a phone with good custom ROM support in general (remember, /e/ is a fork of LineageOS) and if you find your time too valuable to flash it on the phone, hire some local techie to do it to you. But keep social distancing in mind for now.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSNGK9gmdpg

      /e/ actually offers or plans to offer a service where you ship your compatible phone to them and they flash the /e/ ROM onto it. Again, I think it’s mostly for European customers at the moment.

      From the /e/ website:

      “Want to be informed as soon as /e/ smartphones are available outside from the EU? Show your interest by registering now!”

      “We are actively looking for partners in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Russia, China and many other countries. We would love to connect and chat about it. Contact us here: [email protected]