Fairphone 3 in the test: screwing on expressly allowed


Image source: GIGA

If Greta Thunberg were a brand ambassador for a smartphone, the Fairphone 3 would probably be the most likely: it can be done for much more than one or two years, and you can also repair it yourself. Smartphone expert Alexander Kraft took a closer look at the fair mobile phone.

In 2019 alone, 23 million new smartphones were purchased in Germany, and around 200 million dusted in cupboards and drawers. So the official statistics. I do not want to imagine what this amount of e-waste alone means for the environment. This is exactly the problem that the Fairphone brand wants to draw attention to. Of course, the Fairphone 3 is not produced fairly either, as the manufacturers know. After all, it is still a smartphone and as such relies on rare earths and hard-to-extract raw materials. But: the production and supply of components by suppliers takes place under fairer and more transparent conditions than with other manufacturers. And that’s what makes the Fairphone so special.

Fairphone 3 in review: My conclusion

Resources that are not mandatory are not installed on the Fairphone 3. Even if that means not being able to offer the fastest and newest smartphone. Fairphone refuses to compete in technology and innovate in an unconventional way: by using its smartphone as a Counter-draft to fast-paced throwaway culture Understand. This makes the Fairphone 3 technically not a modern, but perhaps more contemporary smartphone than that of its competitors. So the Fairphone 3 is – I almost have to say, unfortunately – a niche product. But one that the other manufacturers should definitely take an example.

Source: GIGA.


  • Robust processing
  • Captures two SIM cards plus one micro SD card
  • DIY mentality and sustainability idea: Modularity theoretically grants long durability, repair is easy
  • Fairer manufacturing process than comparable devices
  • Little pre-installed apps, tidy operating system


  • High price for mid-range technology
  • Not waterproof
  • Android 9 only pre-installed
  • Camera quality only good under optimal lighting conditions
  • Obsolete processor
  • Position of the fingerprint sensor

The GIGA test rating for the Fairphone 3

  • Processing, haptics and design: 3,5/5
  • Display: 4/5
  • Cameras: 2,5/5
  • Software: 3/5
  • Memory and Performance: 3,5/5
  • Telephony and audio: 4/5
  • Battery and everyday life: 4,5/5

Overall rating: 71 Percent

Fairphone 3: The Gallic Village

Soberly, the Fairphone 3 is a mid-range smartphone that is actually too expensive for what it technically offers. The recently introduced iPhone SE costs just 30 euros more than the Fairphone 3 at 479 euros, and the one-year-old Google Pixel 3a has not only fallen in price, but also the much more powerful smartphone on the data sheet.

However, if you now immediately scroll into the comments section to express your displeasure about it, you overlook an essential aspect: The Fairphone 3 is not a normal smartphone, it does not compete with the competition for the ever better specifications. Instead, it has been produced more fairly, and the Life cycle Fairphone 3 for much longer than ordinary smartphones. For tinkerers, the smartphone also offers a now rare feature: it can repaired by yourself, a matching wrench is encased.

And that’s why you don’t read a conventional test for an ordinary smartphone, which neatly dissects the device and knocks it off for its technical potency. Because yes, there are still, the few Gallic villages – pardon – producers who resist the rhythm of annual iteration. organic cotton curtain for the Fairphone 3, which may the world’s most fairly produced smartphone.

Fairphone 3 lives longer thanks to modularity

The Dutch manufacturer Fairphone took a full three years to follow the Fairphone 2to donate to the But this has nothing to do with laziness or a lack of understanding of the industry. Rather, this is due to the Mission that the manufacturer pursues with his product and that this already bears in the name: “Fair” as in “Fairtrade”. The term is certainly familiar to you, perhaps of fair-trade coffee, which often costs a little more than conventional coffee from the supermarket, but rewards all those involved in the production fairly, i.e. appropriately, for their work. Fairphone has taken a similar approach since they unveiled their first mobile phone in 2013 to this day (unfortunately) a rarity in the mobile phone industry.

The concept for the Fairphone is based, on the one hand, on creating fair working conditions by, among other things, rare and hard-to-extract raw materials not from contested regions be obtained. On the other hand, the longer life cycles are intended to create an awareness of the more sustainable use of the device itself. In order to ensure that the Fairphone 3 lasts as long as possible and is not exchanged for a newer model after one to two years, as usual, the manufacturer relies on a modular design – in this consequence, another rarity in the mobile telephony industry. If your Fairphone breaks any component 3 times, you simply exchange it yourself.

Mobile phone contracts typically run for at least two years, but almost all smartphone manufacturers now launch several new devices every year. Do you perceive this as an over-offer or a positive development, as you like to change your smartphone frequently?

Sounds crazy? Even the self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfer-king Fynn Kliemann has already bitten his teeth at the screwing of smartphones. Recently, in a video, he wanted to swap the old battery of his iPhone for a new one – it ends with a ripped display, a lot of curses and the tip not to take the display off yourself. At the latest from the end of the video it was clear to me: If the smartphone breaks me, I have it repaired by an expert. That’s what Apple, Samsung and Co. have taught me for years.

Easy repair, which is also fun

In addition, when the smartphone is opened, the manufacturer’s warranty of the major suppliers usually expires – if something goes wrong, it becomes expensive. Often the age of the device does not justify the high repair costs and it has to produce a new smartphone. Not so with the Fairphone 3: Here’s the Screwing on expressly allowed. It is not for nothing that the phrase “Designed to open” adorns the frame of the phone. It is only logical that the device therefore comes with a commercially available screwdriver. For the sake of the environment, manufacturers have dispensed with a charger and cable – everyone is likely to hoard enough of it at home anyway. What is also missing: Since the smartphone is not glued, but can be screwed on, it is therefore not waterproof.

Source: GIGA / Alexander Kraft I explicitly allow screw-on: The Fairphone 3 is even encased in a small wrench.

The first step to repairing the Fairphone 3 always is to open the semi-transparent back. You can be opened without violence or loss of guarantee, special tool is not needed here. If some pressure is applied to the edge of the smartphone with your hands, the lid jumps out of the plastic frame. battery, micro-SD and SIM card(s), then the screws of the display module are removed. You already have direct access to the inner workings of the Fairphone 3. Thanks to the self-explanatory symbols and texts can be seen immediately which modules are responsible for which functions.

I installed the main camera in less than ten minutes. Most of the time takes the screwing out and inserting of the 13 screws. The rest is really child’s play. The most beautiful: From the very beginning, I have a sense of security in the repair of the Fairphone 3. Because everything is labeled in detail and the components are easily recognizable, it takes only a few steps to reach the goal. The worry of accidentally damaging something or having screws left behind is unnecessary. Repairing the device is a special haptic experiencethat other smartphones do not Offer. You feel really good about repairing your smartphone yourself. No wonder the technicians at iFixit the repairability of the Fairphone 3 is rated with 10 out of 10 possible points and thus leads the repairability index.

Start the picture section(16 images)

Mobile phone broken? These smartphones are the easiest to repair

Fairphone 3: Technically mediocre

A total of seven replacement components are available for the Fairphone 3. The Spare parts cost between 20 euros (speaker module) and 90 euros (5.65 inch display with full HD), they are therefore much cheaper than buying a new smartphone. CPU, RAM or flash memory cannot be replaced. Unfortunately, the current not possible to replace the modules with newer ones. Installing a battery with higher capacity or swapping the 12MP camera for a higher resolution would certainly accommodate the idea of sustainability. Instead, a new smartphone still needs to be made, the current model is at some point technically outdated. And that can happen faster than expected with the Fairphone 3.

Because, as mentioned at the beginning, the technical data of the Fairphone 3 quite unspectacular: A Snapdragon 632 and 4 gigabytes of RAM are really not values to specify. The benchmark results reinforce the impression that the Fairphone 3 with Geekbench scores 271 points in the single and 1,227 in the multi-core test, while 3DMark’s rating is even clearer, with 511 points versus an average of 2,532 in the first quarter of 2020. The 3,000 mAh battery is easily sufficient thanks to the undemanding hardware for one to one and a half days Use.

Source: GIGA I The Fairphone 3 can only compete with other smartphones to a limited extent – this starts with the 12MP camera and stops with the outdated operating system.

For everyday applications such as browsing, Instagram and YouTube, the performance is always enough. Sure, scrolling doesn’t run as smoothly as on current high-end phones, and some app takes longer to get started. But this is only noticeable in direct comparison. If you don’t use your smartphone as a mobile game console, you are with the equipment of the Fairphone 3 at least for the time being sufficiently served. Let’s see what that looks like in a year or two, especially with the software and the updates. The Fairphone 3 is delivered with Android 9. The version modified by Fairphone does not use unnecessary pre-installed apps. As of now, it is not clear if and when the update will follow on Android 10. After all, Fairphone is planning to use her third smartphone Provide important updates for five years, which is probably more about security patches given the hardware.

Nothing for the dark: The camera of the Fairphone 3

While other manufacturers are working on the question of how to install even more lenses in a smartphone without committing design sins, Fairphone is also resisting this trend and only installing a lens with 12 megapixels and f/1.8 aperture. Under optimal lighting conditions, the results look surprisingly presentable: Colors capture the Fairphone of course, the shots are sharp and convince with details. The Fairphone 3 gets problems when the light is no longer distributed in a balanced way. At dusk or artificial light sources, the camera struggles with noise and blurred details. Unfortunately, there is no night mode for these cases. After all, The Pro mode allows experienced users to manually adjust ISO value, focus, white balance and more. The camera captures videos at a resolution of up to 4K at 30 frames per second. Slow motion is possible at 120 fps with Full HD. The video quality corresponds to the level of the photos.

I come to a similar verdict in the 8 MP front camera. For brisk portraits to share on social networks, the quality is fine. But here, too, the camera quickly pushes its limits in decreasing sunlight: pale colors, blurring and image noise cloud the selfie fun.

As soon as the lighting conditions get worse, however, the image quality also leaves something to be desired. Source: GIGA / Alexander Kraft
As soon as the lighting conditions get worse, however, the image quality also leaves something to be desired. Source: GIGA / Alexander Kraft
Source: GIGA / Alexander Kraft
Source: GIGA / Alexander Kraft

Fairphone 3 in review: Technical data at a glance

Operating system: Android 9
Size: 158 x 71.8 x 9.89 mm
Weight: 189 g
Display: 5.65 inch Full HD+ 18:9
Camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel PDAF
Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632, 4 GB RAM
Internal memory: 64 GB, expandable with a micro SD card
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Connectivity: 2.5 & 5 GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 5, NFC, 2 Nano-SIMs, 4G (LTE), USB Type-C, Fingerprint Scanner, 3.5mm Headphone Jack


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