- Slow and buggy performance
- The camera is only so-so
- Poor display contrast
The Fairphone 3 Plus is designed for sustainability, using recycled plastic and ethically acquired materials where it can. It also allows you to repair, replace, and upgrade parts over time. These are all features you won’t find on many other phones. But is the phone actually worth using?
Designed to be ethically, economically and environmentally friendly, this phone was never intended to be sleek or fancy. That means you’ll find a bulky chassis and big bezels compared to many of 2020’s top releases. The idea behind it is that you can quickly take apart the phone and replace parts or upgrade pieces yourself, making for less waste and offering repair options without the need for a bunch of specialized tools.
The screen on the Fairphone 3 Plus is only 5.65-inches -- definitely toward the smaller end of phones in 2020. According to reviewers, the LCD panel does its best to bring bright colors and vivid details, but it can fall short in some instances. Shadows, in particular, can look blotchy and noisy.
“Slow” and “buggy” were the words most repeated by reviewers. They lamented that they wanted to love the phone for its attempt to create a phone that was environmentally friendly and upgradeable. But the speed isn’t there, and the phone is slow to launch any app. Considering the price, reviewers were displeased.
Software & Storage
Fairphone 3 Plus comes equipped with Android 10. Internal storage comes in at 64GB (rather small by 2020 standards.) But a MicroSDXC expansion slot makes adding more storage cheap and easy.
While the Plus in the name comes from an upgrade to the cameras, reviewers quickly pointed out that the upgraded camera still wouldn’t win any awards. Images featured blotchy, noisy shadows and a loss of detail if not in full sun. However, the 16MP selfie cam made reviewers happy as many selfie lenses today only go up to 8MP.
Battery life was only average. So heavy phone users will likely need to charge throughout the day. With casual use, it could last the day. The phone does not support wireless charging, so budget for a USB-C cable if you don’t already have one handy as the phone does ship with one. This was done to cut down on e-waste.
The sound capabilities for the Fairphone 3 Plus were mediocre, but that’s not exactly unusual for phones in general. It got loud enough to fill a room without distorting but lacked bass and treble was tinny. Fortunately, the phone includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, so your favorite pair of wired headphones can help make up for any audio shortcomings.
Specs at a Glance
- 40% recycled plastic chassis
- 5.65-inch LCD display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 Octa-core 1.8 GHz processor
- 4GB of RAM
- Android 10
- 64GB internal and a MicroSD expansion slot for storage
- 48MP rear camera and 16MP selfie lens camera
- 3040mAh battery
The Fairphone 3 Plus has its heart in the right place. The idea of making a sustainable brand is honorable as we continue to create more and more e-waste. But the phone has some drawbacks. It’s slow and outdated in some respects. It’s not a phone for power users, but it’s questionable if the casual user would be willing to upgrade parts later as well. Despite these conflicts, in a world where it pays to be more aware, it might be a worthwhile option for those looking for a smartphone with minimal global and ecological impact.
The Verge says, “If you are someone who wants a more ethical and sustainable alternative to a budget device, then the Fairphone 3 Plus delivers. It’ll serve your needs in the same way as a budget smartphone will in 2020 but at a price premium that reflects its ethically sourced materials and repairability. But don’t expect this to compete with other similarly priced phones. Fairphone has different priorities, and in order to buy one of its phones, you need to share them.”
Tech Radar comments, “The Fairphone 3 Plus, like the Fairphones before it, stands out as the number one ethical, eco-friendly smartphone choice. That approach is either going to compel you to buy it, or make you look elsewhere for better options in terms of performance and camera quality.”
Prices (Where to Buy)
The 3+ price will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. You can compare Fairphone 3+ prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Fairphone 3+ user manual here.
Fairphone backs up the 3+ with a 2 Years parts & labour warranty.
If your 3+ has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Fairphone support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Fairphone's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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