Fairphone 3+ goes live with big camera upgrades, more sustainable design
What you need to know
- Fairphone 3+ is now official, with the phone featuring 40% recycled plastics, up from the 9% in the standard Fairphone 3.
- The phone also has a 48MP rear camera and a 16MP lens up front.
- It comes with Android 10 out of the box, and current Fairphone 3 owners will be able to upgrade to the new camera modules from the 3+ for just €70 until the end of September.
Over 1.4 billion phones are sold globally every year, and while even budget phones have exciting glass-and-metal designs and enticing hardware, they're not designed for sustainability. With customers on average upgrading their phones every 2.7 years and less than 5% of materials available for reuse, phones create a monumental amount of e-waste.
That's the issue Fairphone is trying to tackle. The manufacturer is focused on sustainability, relying on fair-trade sourcing and fair labor practices, and using recycled materials in its phones and modular components that can be easily switched out. The Fairphone 3 showcased this to great effect earlier this year, and now Fairphone is rolling out a new variant dubbed the Fairphone 3+ with exciting upgrades.
The Fairphone 3+ retains a similar design as its predecessor, but the main highlight here is that the chassis features 40% recycled plastics, or the equivalent of a 11 fl. oz. (330ml) bottle. That's up from the 9% recycled plastics used in the standard model, making the Fairphone 3+ much more sustainable.
The other big change is around the camera hardware. The Fairphone 3+ comes with a 48MP module at the back and a 16MP lens up front — up from the 12MP and 8MP modules on the regular model. The rest of the hardware is unchanged, with the phone featuring a 5.65-inch FHD+ display with Gorilla Glass 5, Snapdragon 632 chipset, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with a MicroSD slot, dual SIM slots, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and a 3,040mAh battery with fast charging.
The device comes with Android 10 out of the box, and Fairphone says that the update will be rolling out to the Fairphone 3 in the coming weeks. A big differentiator with Fairphone's products is repairability, with the Fairphone 3+ featuring seven modules that can be easily switched out, including the camera sensors.
The phone is now up for pre-order on Fairphone's website and select partner stores for €469 ($555), and current Fairphone 3 owners will be able to upgrade to the new camera modules by paying just €70 until the end of September. From October 1, that figure goes up to €94.90. The Fairphone 3+ will be going on sale across Europe from September 14 at select online stores, and with the brand focused in that region, it isn't looking to launch products in the U.S. at this time.
Now, €469 is a lot of money for the specs on offer, but a portion of the cost is allocated to improving conditions for factory workers in the Fairphone's supply chain, and other sustainable initiatives:
- Collecting e-waste in Europe and abroad, plus sourcing Fairtrade gold, fair cobalt and conflict-free tin and tungsten from high risk areas, as well as recycled copper.
- Improving conditions in small-scale cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and gold mines in Uganda.
- Launching the Circular Module Program for Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+, encouraging customers to send back their old or broken modules free of charge to give them a second life.
- Employee satisfaction programs and living wage bonuses for factory workers in China.
The Circular Module Program is going live in Germany in partnership with iFixit and France with Cordon, with Fairphone noting that other countries will be added in the near future.
The Fairphone 3+ isn't about offering the best specs or the latest tech. Instead, it is about sustainability and ensuring fair working conditions in the supply chain. Fairphone has sold over 90,000 phones to date, and while that's a tiny amount in the context of the handset industry, the company's sustainability movement is slowly gaining momentum. If you're interested in the company's message and want to know more about what it's like to use its products, take a look at our Fairphone 3 review.
The Fairphone 3+ offers exciting camera upgrades and a more sustainable design that's better for the environment. With modular components and Android 10 out of the box, the phone is designed to be used for a lot longer than most mainstream devices available today.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.