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Fairphone 3 Plus launched: New modular cameras also pop into the Fairphone 3

The Fairphone 3 Plus has a new camera module that's also available for the existing Fairphone 3, a pretty rare event.

Published onAugust 27, 2020

Fairphone 3 Plus official
Supplied by Fairphone

Fairphone has today launched an updated Fairphone 3, with its new Fairphone 3 Plus, and moved both phones up to Android 10.

The new 3 Plus gets an update to both cameras on the front and back: out with the older rear 12MP Sony IMX363 sensor and in with a new 48MP Isocell GM1 image sensor, while the front-facing camera jumps from an 8MP shooter to a 16MP sensor. Fairphone confirmed the new image sensor, which is also used by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Redmi Note 9.

With software optimization from Arcsoft, Fairphone says the new camera hardware upgrade provides faster autofocus, improved image stabilization, and better object tracking. Interestingly, the previous camera module in the Fairphone 3 is also used by Google in the Pixel line, but Fairphone doesn’t quite have the same computational photography chops as Google. Fairphone says the audio quality is also better in the new device.

Fairphone is also moving on from the interesting clear plastic body to a new body made out of more recycled plastics. The Fairphone 3 Plus body features 40% recycled plastics, up from 9% in the original Fairphone 3. Fairphone’s Miquel Ballester, part of the founding team and the new Design Lead at the company, explained that transparent recycled materials are just simply not available, leading to the new black plastic design.

You can also expect updates on the software front. Android 10 comes pre-installed on the 3 Plus, while Fairphone 3 owners can update to the current Android operating system by mid-September.

Fairphone 3 owners can upgrade, too

Fairphone 3 back panel 1

What separates the usual round of iterative upgrades to a phone here is that Fairphone is able to use its modular, repairable approach to bring some these upgrades to the year-old Fairphone 3, as well.

Existing Fairphone 3 owners can upgrade by buying the new camera modules alone, for €70, a price that runs until the end of September. The new Fairphone 3 Plus pricing is €469, up just €19 from the previous pricing of €450. The original Fairphone 3 will be sold for a discounted €419, while stocks last. The company says it has sold at least 90,000 Fairphone 3 models, from an original target of 42,000 sales.

The camera modules are a straight swap, bringing the specs of the 3 to the 3 Plus with one piece of new hardware. New camera modules can be returned for recycling or reuse, too.

There aren’t any further changes to the Fairphone 3 Plus though. The modular device sticks with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, a 5.65-inch IPS display, 4GB RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, replaceable 3000mAh battery, and Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the display.

Read: A tiny smartphone company just brought a new Android version to a 2015 device

The new camera modules and the Fairphone 3 Plus will immediately go on pre-sale in European and Nordic regions where the brand’s products are sold, with a release from September 14.

Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens said in a press release that the module was a commitment to a circular economy.

“We believe that we must make the most of the materials used in consumer electronics. We’re moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of our phones, plus making it easier for users to keep their devices for longer,” said Gouwens.

“The launch of the new camera modules and the Fairphone 3 Plus is a concrete example of how we’re making this possible. By showing that it is commercially viable to care for people and the planet, we want to motivate the electronics industry to act more responsibly.”

What do you think of a phone with camera hardware upgrades? Give us your thoughts by taking our poll below and leaving a comment!

Would you keep a phone longer if you could easily upgrade the camera hardware?

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