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Fairphone 3 Review Specs and Performance




The Fairphone deserves a lot of plaudits for what it's trying to do in the areas of sustainability, eco-friendliness, repairability, and protections for workers along the supply chain, and the Fairphone 3 has enough going for it to make it a viable option for your next smartphone.


Specification

The Fairphone 3 has 4GB RAM with 64GB of internal memory, using eMMC 5.1,  plus a microSD card slot for up to 400GB more storage. There’s a headphone jack at the top, because of course an ethical company would include a headphone jack, and the phone is IP54 rated. It also packs NFC, and USB-C charging with Quick Charge 3.0 support. In terms of band support for 4G and LTE, the phone is designed for European carriers. Elsewhere, including the U.S.

The Fairphone 3 is no svelte, slippery glass thing. It’s chunky, with sturdy plastic, and with the old-style removable back like a device from 2014 or 2015. But the Fairphone 3 has late-2018 specs, starting with a tall 5.7-inch LCD IPS display (18:9 ratio, Full HD+, Gorilla Glass 5), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and a 3,000mAh battery. There’s a 12MP rear camera, using a Sony IMX363 sensor, which is the same as the Pixel 3a, and an 8MP selfie camera on the front.



Performance


  • Snapdragon 632, 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of storage with microSD slot
  • Low benchmark scores

You won't be surprised to learn that the Fairphone 3 isn't anywhere near the top of the smartphone pile when it comes to performance. The average multi-core score on Geekbench 5 we got was 1,243, which is in line with the much cheaper Moto G7. This isn't a handset that's going to power through games and demanding tasks.

Under the hood there's a Snapdragon 632 chipset (as previously seen in the Moto G7), and that's paired with 4GB of RAM, which is just about the minimum you can get by with these days. The phone doesn't lag, exactly, but you'll be waiting a few milliseconds more for anything to happen compared with the very top-end phones.

All that said, the Fairphone 3 is able to handle just about everything you can throw at it, including the games we tested – you just might be sat on loading screens for longer. Unless you're doing some demanding video editing or gaming, you won't feel the difference too much.

Despite the low benchmarks we've mentioned, we found the Fairphone 3 perfectly usable for day-to-day tasks, and if you're thinking about this handset in the first place, then you're perhaps not the kind of person wanting blistering performance levels from your phone.

As far as internal storage goes, you get 64GB included, which again is just about as low as you would want to go on a smartphone in 2019. Thankfully there is a microSD card slot included as well, should you want to expand the internal storage – and that's one area where the Fairphone 3 has the edge over the latest Google flagships, like the Google Pixel 4 XL.



Camera
  

  • Single camera
  • 12MP sensor
  • 27mm-equivalent, f/1.8 aperture lens
  • Dual-pixel PDAF
  • Dual-LED flash
  • 4K video @ 30fps
The single camera comes with a 12MP sensor and f/1.8 lens. The device runs on the Android 9 OS, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and comes with 4 GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (along with a slot for a microSD card). Read on to see how the Fairphone 3 performed in our DXOMARK Camera tests.



Software and apps

  • Fairphone OS on board
  • Based on Android 9
  • Full Google Play Store access

The Fairphone 3 runs a lightly tweaked version of Android 9 Pie called Fairphone OS, which is close to stock Android and comes with all of Google's apps and services already pre-installed when you boot up the phone. As a result, you're going to need a Google account to make the most of the Fairphone 3.

Unlike the Fairphone 2, the Fairphone 3 doesn't offer the option of Fairphone Open – an operating system without Google strings attached. Fairphone says it's "currently investigating the possibility" of making this available on the Fairphone 3, but for now, Fairphone OS is what you've got.

So you get all the Google basics – Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos and so on – plus what is essentially stock Android underneath. You don't need to worry about bloatware or a mass of pre-installed apps with the Fairphone 3: our review unit had 19 Google apps and the Settings shortcut and that was it.

Google Assistant is here, but you don't get the extras that come with Android 10, like support for a dark mode and gesture navigation. As for future updates, don't hold your breath – the Fairphone 2 launched with Android 6 in 2015 and at the time of writing (October 2019) has made it up to Android 7.1.


Battery life

  • Easily lasts a day
  • Long battery lifespan
  • No charger included
One of the benefits of a thicker phone, a lower-res display, and less powerful components, is that you get more battery life between charges, typically. The Fairphone 3 comes packed with a 3,000mAh battery (removable and replaceable, don't forget), and we found it gave us more than enough juice to make it to the end of the day.
 


In other words, in normal usage, this is a phone that will see you into a second day at a push, rather than have you scrambling for a charger before you head out for the evening. In the TechRadar battery test (a 90-minute video), the battery level dropped from 100% to 77%.

For comparison, the Pixel 4 dropped to 81%, and the Moto G7 dropped to 78%. That puts the Fairphone 3 in a poor light, but in real world testing, day-to-day, we found it was much better – perhaps it's a case of it deals with regular use better than extended video watching (our test does put the screen up to maximum brightness).

You don't get wireless charging with the Fairphone 3, but there is what Fairphone calls an 'eco charge' technology here – where charging is faster up to 85% before slowing down. The idea is to increase the lifespan of the battery overall, again with an eye on reducing e-waste.

The Qualcomm QuickCharge 3 standard is supported, provided you have a compatible charger to use – remember that Fairphone doesn't include one in the box, though you can buy one separately for €19.95 (roughly $22/£17/AU$32) direct from the company.



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