Fairphone 3+ – Review After One Year

At the end of August 2022, I decided that it was time for my old Samsung phone to retire and I was tasked with finding a new, suitable phone for my everyday use. I am a casual phone user, meaning I rely on it while I’m on the go, but I prefer to use other devices for many use cases while I’m at home. One thing that is important to me is sustainability and fairness in production chains, so the Fairphone has been known to me for a while already. Long story short, I decided that the slightly more expensive purchase price was worth it and bought an older model from Fairphone, the Fairphone 3+. This model is now discontinued, but the newer models are not groundbreakingly different in design and function, so I think my opinion is still valuable if you are thinking about getting a Fairphone yourself.

This review is not sponsored by or affiliated with Fairphone in any way. I bought the device for my personal use with my own money and all views expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Fairphone 3+ At A Glance

Release Date: 14.09.2020

Display: 5.65″ (1080×2160 px)

Dimensions: 158 x 71.8 x 9.9 mm

Weight: 189 g

OS: Android (10-13)


CPU: Octa-core (4×1.8 GHz)

GPU: Adreno 506

Camera: 48MP (back), 16MP (front)

Battery: 3040mAh (Li-Ion), removable

Memory: 64GB internal storage, microSD slot available

Sound: loudspeaker, 3.5mm jack

Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

Website: Fairphone

Cost 💰

I ordered my phone directly from the Fairphone website with some accessories. This is the full list of the costs of all items:

Fairphone 3+£399.00
USB Charger£17.95
USB-C to USB-C Cable£17.95
Protective Case£35.95
Wireless Stereo Earbuds£0.00 (free promo item, usually £89.95)

The cost of the phone seems fair and I do not feel like I have paid too much for it a year after buying it. The charger is still working well but I do feel like you can get a better product for the same price.
The cable did not have a long life unfortunately, it broke fairly soon after arrival due to being crushed by a mattress. It was working fine while it existed.
The protective case is holding up surprisingly well, there are few scratches on it and my phone fell a few times over the course of the months and nothing broke. This is something I would expect for the price.
The earbuds were offered as a free item with the purchase of a phone at the time of my purchase. They usually cost £89.95 so I feel like I got a good deal here. I use the earbuds almost every day and I love them. They are comfortable to wear and last for hours without charging. The charging case is able to charge the buds often and I need to charge the whole set about once per week with my level of usage.

Packaging 📦

The phone arrived in the UK very quickly after ordering it from the Fairphone website, and all of the items I ordered came in cardboard packaging. It felt high-quality and unboxing the order was fun. Since Fairphones do not come with charging cables and headphones, you have to order these separately if you need them. The company claims to do this to reduce waste because many users will already have a suitable charger. I had to buy a new one for my phone, because my old phone had a micro-USB slot and I did not yet own a USB-C cable.

Setup 📎

Setup of the Fairphone was very straightforward for me. Once you start the phone, a setup wizard will guide you through the process. Fairphones run on Android and you use a Google account to set up and use the phone. I use Google products regularly anyway so adding my Google account to my phone was something I would have done anyway. Additionally, the phone will help you to set up your SIM card and Wifi at this stage. You can skip steps of the setup process and add these later if you wish.
Fairphone running on Android is probably one of the bigger criticisms brought forward by users who are conscious of their digital footprint and the data they give to large companies. Since you need a Google account to properly use the phone and there are a number of Google apps already pre-installed on the device, there isn’t really a good way to avoid Google with this phone.

Usability 🧑‍💻

The Fairphone 3+ is very comfortable to hold and use. I have fairly small hands and larger and heavier phones are usually very difficult for me to hold. The 3+ is definitely not the smallest phone but I feel like the dimensions and the straight side edges allow me to get a good grip even without a case. To my delight, it also fits in most pockets of my trousers, and we all know how horribly small pockets of feminine fashion items are.

All buttons are easy to press and the fingerprint sensor on the back allows me to unlock my phone while holding it with one hand. This is great because I would normally not be able to reach all areas of the screen with one finger.

Battery Life 🔋

The battery life of the Fairphone 3+ is very long right from the start. After a year of use I can still use the device comfortably for 2 days after a full charge. If I am using the phone a lot, I can still be sure that it will last me for the whole day if charged to 100%. Battery saving options are available in the settings. The phone can also be charged via fast charge to allow for a full charge from 0% to 100% in just over an hour.

I am very pleased with the battery life of my Fairphone and the fact that I can go and replace the battery myself should I ever find the performance to be lacking is a huge selling point for me!

Camera 📸

The quality of the camera is fine but not outstanding. If you are looking for a phone that can be used for photography, this particular model is probably not going to fulfill that need. The newer Fairphone models have better cameras, so it may be a good idea to look at those instead. Photos shot with the 3+ model are good for remembering moments and sharing them with friends and family.

The camera has different modes, such as portrait mode and panorama mode, and photos can be edited from the gallery to crop, add text, filters, etc. I am personally happy with the camera and it’s features, but it is not the best on the market.

Here are some examples:

Overall Quality 🏆

I am very pleased with the overall quality of the Fairphone 3+. The device is sturdy and feels well-made. My old Samsung phone had plenty of indentations and scratches after one year of use but the Fairphone looks pretty much flawless.

The phone feels like it was built with longevity in mind and I can see myself using this device for many years to come.

The interface is responsive, the buttons, the fingerprint sensor and the touchscreen work very well. The screen has a good colour range and looking at the phone is comfortable. For me, the android interface is easy to navigate and I enjoy using the device.

Software Updates ⬆️

The Fairphone 3+ was initially released with Android 10 in 2020 and still has ongoing product support and updates. I updated to the latest security patch a few days ago.

A few months ago, the Fairphone 3+ got an update to Android 13, which brought new functions and a whole new interface.

The Fairphone 2 received an impressive 7 years of product support, which is unmatched in the world of mobile phones so far, so we can expect more updates for the Fairphone 3+ in the years to come.

Repairability 🔧

One of the main selling points of the Fairphone is probably its repairability. All devices come with a little tool to open them, and users can order spare parts from the Fairphone website to replace components that are broken from the comfort of their home. This saves repair costs, increases the longevity of the product, and boosts the sustainability score. I also like the agency of having the freedom to open and change components of my device without needing to send it to the manufacturer/seller.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to replace any parts of my phone yet, but here are the parts that are available for this model:

  • Camera+ module (£ 54.95)
  • Top+ module (£ 32.95)
  • Back cover+ (black or translucent) (£ 21.95)
  • Speaker module+ (£ 17.95)
  • Battery (£ 25.95)
  • Display (£ 79.95)
  • Bottom module (£ 17.95)

Individual spare parts for the headphones are available too.

Sustainability 💚

Fairphone pledges to source the materials for their devices from responsible sources. They consider human rights and the conditions of the people who source the materials and assemble the phones:

It’s no secret: we’re out to change the world. Fairphone puts people and the planet first.

We care about human rights and worker well-being.

We care about the climate and our planet’s delicate ecosystem.

We care about designing longer-lasting products that are easier to repair.

We care about reducing waste and making the most of what we already have.


Fairphone is B-Corporation certified, has an EcoVadis gold medal, a 10/10 score on iFixit and uses Fairtrade gold in their products.

Through the Fairphone Recycling program, users can give their old devices a new life.

If you want to learn more about the impact that Fairphone has on the people and the planet, you can read their impact report 2022 here.

In our current world, it is incredibly difficult to consume products responsibly and fair. Mobile phone companies in particular often use sensitive resources gathered by people in horrible working conditions, they are not built to last long, repairing them is a lot of effort, and disposing of them is rarely done in a sustainable way. I really appreciate that Fairphone is making an effort to improve the situation by standing up for sustainability, fairness, and user friendliness.

Final Thoughts 💭

When I bought my Fairphone 3+ last year, I was fed up with the lack of quality and longevity of modern mobile phones. My old Samsung device had battery problems and indentations everywhere, a cracked screen and I only had it for 3 years at this point. Sending it in for repairs would have been expensive and annoying, and I was angry that Samsung won’t allow me to just open it and replace the battery at least – something I could do (and did) with my previous device. I decided to spend a bit more money than I usually would have and get a device that promised to have a solution for these problems. I didn’t know whether Fairphones were actually good or whether I would like mine at all, having used only Samsung devices in the past.

Looking back on this now, I am very glad that I bought the Fairphone. It just feels like a high-quality device and knowing that I can replace parts myself if they happen to break is very calming. The battery life is amazing so far, something I value in a phone, and I am happy with the features it comes with and the performance. I do not feel like I have a device that is somehow worse than other devices. The sustainability aspects are a great bonus and I found the support features to be very helpful so far. I had an issue with my wireless earbuds early after I got them and the support was able to help me quickly and in a friendly way. The forums create a sense of community and I feel well-supported in case I need help.

If you are someone who finds great pleasure in using the phone for high-end mobile gaming or photography, the Fairphone models may not be the device you are looking for. The newer devices naturally have better specs compared to the 3+, so in my opinion it would be worth to check the technical specs of the available devices before turning Fairphone down.

If you are someone who has a “normal” everyday usage pattern you will probably get a lot out of the Fairphone. It has a high quality, seems to be particularly long-lasting and the repairability features are amazing.

I do not regret purchasing my Fairphone at all and I have since recommended the brand to many friends, one of them replaced their old phone with a Fairphone as well and she is very happy with her choice too. I am certainly going to buy another once my 3+ reaches the end of its life cycle with me. However, I am expecting to use it for many more years and I can’t wait to repair it myself for the first time once the first part gives up on life.

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