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Fairphone 3+ in the test: What can the sustainable smartphone do?

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Disclaimer: We are looking for products for you that we think you will like. The selection is subjective, but editorially independent. We have affiliate partnerships, which means that if you make a purchase using a link marked with an asterisk, we receive a small commission.


Of all the gadgets that we no longer want to live without today, smartphones are the greatest threat to the environment. This was the result of a study by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Although the operation of smartphones requires relatively little energy, their production causes immense emissions. This is mainly due to the rare metals and raw materials that are built into their chips. Then there is the short lifespan of smartphones. Because new, apparently better models are constantly being produced, which are available cheaply in combination with a collective agreement, the old devices create an ever-growing pile of electronic waste.

Fairphone: Smartphones that are produced more sustainably and fairly

This is exactly what the Dutch company Fairphone wants to prevent. With its smartphones of the same name, Fairphone supplies mobile phones that are produced in a more sustainable and fair manner, the manufacturing process of which focuses on responsible material procurement and the rights of workers in the factories.

What makes Fairphone’s smartphones so sustainable?

The Fairphone is made from fairly sourced and recycled materials (the Fairphone 3+ also has 40 percent recycled plastic). The production is based on modularity, which means that the individual components are interchangeable. This makes it easier to repair the smartphone – even by laypeople who simply replace the damaged components with spare parts (which are also available via Fairphone). Even upgrades are made possible in this way. The advantage: Compared to conventional smartphones, this extends the service life of a fairphone, which means that less electronic waste is generated. Due to its modular design, the Fairphone is also compatible with all common accessories. In order to avoid unnecessary waste, the scope of delivery does not include a charger or headphones, as the manufacturer assumes that customers already have enough accessories.

Fairphone 3+ in the test: What can the sustainable smartphone do?

There is no doubt that the Fairphone is significantly more sustainable than the competition from Apple, Samsung and Co. But can it keep up with the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy? I tested the Fairphone 3+ for you guys to answer that question.

The display of the Fairphone 3+ in the test

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The screen diagonal of the Fairphone 3+ is 5.7 inches. The LCD display offers a pixel density of 427 pixels per inch (ppi) and a refresh rate of 60 Hertz. Thus, it is only slightly smaller and weaker than the current iPhone 12, which has a diagonal of 6.1 inches, a pixel density of 476 ppi and a refresh rate of 60 Hertz (although the Samsung models in this category are 6.2 inches , 421 ppi and 120 Hertz much stronger). However, the resolution of the Fairphone 3+ is much more relevant for use. With Full HD + (2,160 x 1,080 pixels), the Fairphone theoretically lags a bit behind the competition, but this difference is hardly noticeable in practice. Images and videos are displayed clearly, sharply, powerfully and brightly. In any case, I had no reason to complain.

The camera from the Fairphone 3+

Not quite as successful as the display of the Fairphone 3+ is its 48 megapixel camera and the 16 megapixel front camera for selfies. In good lighting conditions, you can take sharp pictures with it, but as soon as it gets a little darker, the camera struggles. Even the eightx zoom cannot compete with the zoom of premium smartphones such as the iPhone or the Galaxy S21. But the camera offers all common photo and video settings and even enables the recording of 4K videos. I think: With regard to the camera, one should weigh things up. Users who want to take snapshots and videos with their smartphone in everyday life don’t really need a better camera. However, if you want to take the perfect high resolution photos all the time and at any time of day, you might be disappointed with the camera of the Fairphone 3+.

The battery of the Fairphone 3+

One of the most important features of a smartphone is its battery. And the battery of the Fairphone 3+ is quite impressive. It has a capacity of 3,040 mAh (iPhone 12: 2,815, Galaxy S21: 4,000) and its runtime is between eleven hours in online mode and 300 hours in sleep mode. As with any other cell phone, usage behavior influences battery performance. This is the great strength of the Fairphone: If the battery runs down at some point, it can be replaced much more easily than with iPhone and Co. This means that I can overlook the somewhat longer charging time of 3.5 hours. For comparison: the iPhone 12 is fully charged in around 2.5 hours and the Samsung Galaxy S21 in a maximum of three hours.

The operating system and the performance of the Fairphone 3+ in the test

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The Fairphone 3+ has the Android 10 operating system. For someone who, like me, has only used iPhones so far, this is a small change – especially because a Google account is required for full use. As soon as everything is set up, the apps downloaded and the shortcuts learned, the Fairphone can be operated easily and intuitively. But if you have little or no Android experience, you should be patient until everything runs smoothly.

The smartphone’s performance is satisfactory. The Fairphone is not as fast as the flagships from Apple and Samsung, but it does not disappoint in the practical test either. The processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 with four gigabytes of RAM, has a speed of around 1.8 gigahertz (iPhone: 3.1 gigahertz, Galaxy S21: 2.9 gigahertz). In other words: The Fairphone is slower on paper than the two premium cell phones. In my practical test, however, this is hardly noticeable. Pages load quickly, videos are played back without buffering and the download time for apps is reasonable.

Conclusion to the test: is the Fairphone 3+ a good smartphone?

One thing is certain: The Fairphone 3+ is not an iPhone 12 or a Samsung Galaxy S21, but it doesn’t want to be either. Instead, it wants to be a more sustainable and fairly produced smartphone – and in this it is significantly better than the competition. This is supported by its modular composition, which makes it easier to repair, which extends its service life. In addition, it is partly made from recycled materials, which can at least somewhat reduce the already existing mountain of rubbish on our planet. The lack of accessories also contributes to this. That’s why I can recommend the Fairphone without hesitation, because for me the fair aspect of the Fairphone makes up for the weaknesses in the camera and the performance. So if you want to live a little more consciously and contribute to a better and fairer world with your own consumer behavior, you will not find a better smartphone than the Fairphone.

Buy a Fairphone: Here you can find the sustainable smartphone

Fairphone 3+ – from 439.00 euros *

The Fairphone 3+ is available with 64 gigabytes of memory from EUR 439.00. You can buy it from these retailers, among others:

The cheapest way to get the smartphone is currently from Amazon *, Klarmobil * and Mobilcom Debitel *.

*Disclaimer: We are looking for products for you that we think you will like. The selection is subjective, but editorially independent. We have affiliate partnerships, which means that if you make a purchase using a link marked with an asterisk, we receive a small commission. Our recommendations and the selection of products are not influenced by this. The content is also independent of our advertising marketing. You can find our guidelines for journalistic independence here: www.axelspringer.com/de/leitlinien-der-journalistische-indephaengigkeit

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