Is the Fairphone 3+ an eco-friendly smartphone?


20 minutes

  • The ethical and sustainable Dutch firm Fairphone returns with its Fairphone 3 +, launched at 469 euros.

  • Despite a somewhat outdated look and conventional technical performance, this smartphone has many virtues.

  • Among them, the fact that it can be disassembled in order to change certain components if necessary and thus avoid replacing - as often - a complete device.

It's still a brick.

Nothing to do with the latest Chinese smartphones with curved screens, the new Fairphone 3 + struggles to free itself from the somewhat bulky appearance that its predecessors, the Fairphone, Fairphone 2 and 3 already had.

A question of DNA.

Launched in 2013, the Dutch “ethical and sustainable” brand is back on the scene with a new terminal that further pushes the philosophy of its creator, Bas van Abel.

It is about creating phones that “take care of people and the planet”.

Hence, in particular, the possibility of disassembling them and replacing certain components oneself so that they last longer.

Hence, inevitably, less integration and this somewhat rough-cut aspect ...

40% recycled plastics

Measuring 158 x 71.8 x 9.89 mm for 188 grams, the device with rounded angles could blend by its measurements into the mass of smartphones of the moment.

But the contours of its 5.65 '' / 14.5 cm Full HD + display protected by Gorilla Glass 5 remain very angular.

Made from 40% recycled plastics (compared to 9% for the first Fairphone 7 years ago), the device is not unsightly.

There is nothing flashy, that's all.

The Fairphone 3+ made from 40% recycled plastics.


4G and Android 10, it remains technically in the race.

On test, its rear fingerprint sensor is located a bit high and we instantly regret that its screen is displayed with two large black bands at the top and bottom.

A little too visible, the Fairphone logo printed at the bottom would almost act as an activist act.

The only speaker (located at the bottom) of the Fairphone 3 + diffuses a somewhat high pitched sound, but it is possible to turn up the volume high enough while continuing to benefit from an acceptable "quality" of listening.

The real novelty of this new version concerns the photo.

Decent photo performance

Exit the 12 and 8 megapixel rear modules of its predecessor, which already seemed outdated in this field when it was released a year ago.

The 3 + wants more.

In fact, it sets the bar at 48 and 16 megapixels *.

No miracle, however, we feel that behind the lens, image processing has not benefited from the optimizations that some large manufacturers can afford.

If they seem conventional, the photo performance of the Fairphone 3 + is still correct.

Portrait mode is a pleasant surprise with its overall rendering.

Even roughly cut, Selfies in Portrait mode have their effect.


Even if the subject is as if cut out with a billhook, the bokeh effect (blur at the back) manages to amaze the less expert eyes.

Downside for noisy night photos and significantly lacking detail.

You only have to compare them with those of a better equipped smartphone, as we did with an iPhone 11 Pro, to see that there is still a long way to go.

The night photos of the Fairphone 3+ remain noisy and far from the level of some terminals.


For comparison, the same photo taken with Apple's iPhone 11 Pro.


Finally, the Fairphone 3+ films in Full HD video at up to 30 frames per second.

We will therefore go back to 4K.

Overall quite fluid despite the presence of a processor that has already lived (the Snapdragon SD632, launched in 2018 for mid-range smartphones), the smartphone aligns 64 GB of expandable memory and 4 GB of RAM.


13 screws to remove the screen

What is less classic is this small screwdriver supplied with the phone.

Once the rear shell is detached, we can play apprentice mechanics.

Under the hood, the Fairphone 3 + unveils its modules.

We can first dislodge the 3040 mAh battery which can thus be replaced when it has lived.

Then it's a bit of microsurgery.

It is necessary to unscrew 13 tiny screws to free the screen.

Handy if it were to be broken: you can order a new one on the manufacturer's website for 89 euros and replace it yourself.

The screen of the Fairphone 3+ can be replaced in 13 screwdriver strokes for 89 euros.


The modules follow like so many spare parts.

You have to be careful, but sometimes, don't hesitate to force a little ... We successively release the main module which integrates the 16 megapixel sensor, the proximity sensor and the headphone jack;

the main photo module;

the module containing the vibrator and the USB-C port;

then the speaker.

The operation, even when you are not a handyman, requires about fifteen minutes.

Different modules of the smartphone can simply be removed to possibly be replaced or updated.


If it is indeed interesting to be able to replace defective parts and to prolong the life of a phone that would be easily replaced in other circumstances, the idea of ​​Fairphone is also to develop its products.

Example with the Fairphone 3 launched a year ago: the device can now receive the new Fairphone 3 + photo modules.

People who acquired the smartphone last year can therefore

update it

for an expense of 68 euros.

A personal approach

So obviously, we can say that there are better on the market when we know that this Fairphone 3 + is sold for 469 euros.

At 369 euros, Google's recent Pixel 4a, for example, offers much more for much less.

We also think of the Xiaomi MI 9T Pro, the beast of this season with a moderate budget (429 euros).

Buying a Fairphone today is a militant act.


The fact remains that two philosophies are opposed here.

Even if despite its best efforts it seems to be lagging behind technically, the Fairphone 3+ does not pretend to be what it is not.

Adopting it will correspond to a personal approach, to a commitment, and not to a crush.

* f / 1.79 at the rear and f / 2.0 at the front.

High-Tech, the site that (virtuously) gets rid of your old mobiles


Should we trust the “organic” smartphone accessories from the Xoopar brand?


Fairphone's approach does not stop with the physical design of its products, but also with their manufacture.

The firm is involved in responsible mining programs in the Republic of Congo, and ensures that no ore used in the design of its smartphones comes from conflict zones.

In addition, Fairphone ensures that Chinese workers who manufacture and assemble its devices receive premium wages.

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