Fairphone 3 back panel 2

The Fairphone series is pretty much the only major choice if you’re looking for an ethically produced smartphone. 2017’s Fairphone 2 even delivered a modular design to make it easier to repair, allowing you to extend the life of the phone.

Now, the social enterprise is back with the Fairphone 3 — so what’s changed in the two years since the last phone’s release?

The Fairphone 3 sticks to the same modular design and ethical production ethos as the previous model. In the case of the former, the phone is made up of six modular parts which can be swapped out to facilitate repairs. The team is taking things a step further too, saying it will sell modular earphones as an accessory that you can repair.

A range of initiatives

A look at the various components of the Fairphone 3.Fairphone

Fairphone adds that the new smartphone uses “responsibly sourced and conflict-free tin and tungsten, recycled copper and plastics, and sources fair trade gold.” It’s also confirmed plans to set up an initiative to better source cobalt.

The Fairphone team says it’s also better supporting recycling initiatives with the new phone, supporting collection programs in countries like Ghana, for one. Additionally, it will reward buyers for using the official recycling program to trade in their old phones (€20 for any phone and €40 for a Fairphone or Fairphone 2).

The team behind the new phone says it’s also working with final assembly partner Arima to pay bonuses to workers “with the aim to bridge the gap between minimum and living wages in the factory.”

What about the phone itself?

Fairphone 3 display home screen

If there’s one bad thing about the Fairphone series, it’s that the device family is pretty ho-hum when it comes to horsepower. This still seems to be the case on paper, as it’s offering a lower mid-range Snapdragon 632 processor (seen in the Moto G7 and Redmi 7), 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of expandable storage.

The RAM and storage is very solid for a mid-range phone (or even a flagship phone in 2017), but the Snapdragon 632’s GPU is derived from the older Snapdragon 625 chipset. So don’t expect smooth performance in the likes of Fortnite and PUBG — if they do run at all. Nevertheless, the octa-core CPU (four Cortex-A73 and four Cortex-A53) should deliver nippy everyday performance in theory.

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The new phone also sports a 5.7-inch FHD+ screen (18:9, Gorilla Glass 5), 12MP rear camera with dual-pixel autofocus (no dual camera setup here), an 8MP selfie camera, and a 3,000mAh removable battery with unspecified fast charging. Other notable specs include dual nano-SIM slots, 3.5mm port, Android Pie, NFC, and an included bumper case.

You’ll need to splash out €450 (~$500) for the Fairphone 3, making it more expensive than the likes of the Xiaomi Mi 9T, Google Pixel 3a, and Samsung Galaxy A50. But you don’t have much choice if you’re looking for an ethically produced smartphone though.

A Fairphone representative also told Android Authority that the Fairphone 3 was “most likely” to receive Android 10. In fact, the representative noted that the phone will receive five years of software support.

Do you take a manufacturer’s environmental record into account at all? Let us know in the comments! You can also check out the Fairphone 3 product page via the button below.

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