New Fairphone 3+ renews a commitment to ethics, equality & environment
Fairphone's newly-launched Fairphone 3+ serves as a minor technical upgrade but a major environmental one
By Alex Walker-Todd
Tech AdvisorAUG 27, 2020 8:00 pm BST
Fairphone has established itself as the go-to ethical smartphone maker and its new offering – the Fairphone 3+ – boasts improved hardware and a greener design.
While we’re used to seeing handset refreshes like OnePlus’ T series, we wouldn’t necessarily expect the same from an ethically-minded company like Fairphone. However, the new Fairphone 3+ is arguably more of an upgrade for the environment than it is for the user, despite benefits for both.
The main technical additions are a new pair of cameras: a 48Mp primary sensor and a 16Mp front-facing selfie camera, up from the 12Mp and 8Mp snappers inside 2019’s
This spec bump comes directly as a result of user feedback and as well as delivering higher-resolution snaps, is designed to offer superior low-light performance to Fairphone users.
The company has also installed a new audio module, which should improve audio capture in videos, as well as call quality; while the battery has been upped slightly to 3040mAh (compared to 3000mAh previously) too.
The real change that users won’t directly see is a shift away from petroleum-based plastics and towards more recycled plastics throughout the phone’s design. Fairphone 3 used just 9% recycled plastics, while Fairphone 3+ manages to raise that proportion to 40%.
This has been achieved thanks to 50% of the main housing and battery cover now using recycled plastics, as well as 75% of the new camera modules.
Beyond that, the phone offers the same processor, storage and memory configuration as the Fairphone 3, but comes running Android 10 out the box.
The kicker is that existing Fairphone 3 users will be able to upgrade to Android 10 in the first half of September and, as a result, then be able to install these new camera and audio modules on their older devices too.
Here’s the full spec rundown for the Fairphone 3+:
5.65in 18:9 Full HD+ IPS LCD
Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor
64GB internal storage
48Mp primary camera
16Mp front-facing camera
3040mAh battery (removable)
4G (i.e. no 5G)
3.5mm headphone jack
Beyond what actually comes in the box, the wider ethical effects of Fairphone’s recent efforts include
minimum wage bonuses for assembly workers, improved cobalt mine working conditions in the Congo as part of the Fair Cobalt Alliance, improved gold mine working conditions and tools as part of a fair gold program in Uganda and an 87% reduction in transport emissions from one of the company’s production partners to its distribution hub by switching from air to rail shipping.
Fairphone 3 owners can pre-order both new camera modules right now; with the 48Mp main sensor costing £54.95/€60 and the 16Mp selfie camera costing £32.95/€35. Fairphone is also selling both modules as a ‘camera pack’ during September, for £62.90/€70. The modules go on sale the same day as the Fairphone 3+, on 14 September.
In addition, those who are considering a Fairphone for the first time (or upgrading from the
Fairphone 2 or older) will notice that the Fairphone 3 has also received a permanent price cut, from £400/€450, down to £379/€419.