Fairphone 4 5G review: A sustainable smartphone for ethical consumers

Like

  • Moral, sustainable ideas
  • Modular hardware layout
  • Physical SIM and eSIM – both equally 5G
  • Extended software package assist

Will not Like

  • On the substantial/weighty facet
  • Cameras could be much better
  • Dear given the technical specs

Most smartphones have a existence of a couple of several years before they begin to feel prolonged in the tooth. But in these days of environmental consciousness, lots of feel that it is wasteful to junk a handset in favour of a entirely new one when we could, in idea, get a far more sustainable method.  

That’s the ethos driving Fairphone, which has been advertising modular, self-repairable phones for several years now. You could not get the latest and greatest engineering, but you do get a mobile phone which is much far more sustainable than anything else on the current market. And now, Fairphone four supports 5G.

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The modular 6.3-inch Fairphone four 5G looks far more like a frequent smartphone than former styles, while it is a chunky 225g handset which is ten.5mm thick.


Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

There are two Fairphone four 5G styles accessible, and you buy direct. For £499/€579 (~$675) you get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while £569/€649 (~$755) purchases you 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The two configurations are accessible in a chassis with both a gray, inexperienced or speckled inexperienced backplate. I was sent the 6GB/128GB gray possibility to review. I might have cherished to see the speckled inexperienced.

Fairphone provides neither charger, earphones nor USB-C demand cable, while a ‘long life’ cable is accessible as an incorporate-on for £31.95. Maybe this pricing is developed to discourage revenue — following all, lots of folks already have USB-C demand cables, so why assist the manufacture of yet an additional? Shipping and delivery is carbon neutral, as Fairphone offsets the carbon emissions related with transportation. Only a picked vary of European international locations are served — test the list here.

All of this emphasises that Fairphone is not just about the handset itself. The full ethic is about sustainability. Fairphones are built with up to 40% recycled plastics, the supplies utilized in phones are sustainably sourced, and for each Fairphone four mobile phone offered, Fairphone commits to recycling or refurbishing one device. There is certainly a whole lot far more depth on this and other initiatives at Fairphone’s web-site.    

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You can replace the Fairphone 4’s battery, rear cameras, selfie digital camera, USB-C port, speaker, earpiece, exhibit and rear include. You even get a scewdriver.


Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

I pointed out previously that the Fairphone four 5G is a modular, self-repairable handset. There is a screwdriver in the box for taking away (and replacing) the modules. The several spare pieces accessible at the time of crafting are: battery (£25.95), rear cameras (£69.95), selfie digital camera (£25,95), USB-C port (£12.95), loudspeaker (£17.95), earpiece (£12.95). The exhibit and back include really should also be accessible, but their rates ended up not shown at the time of crafting. 

As element of the sustainability ethic, the Fairphone four 5G will come with a 5-12 months warranty against producing defects, and while the small print understandably clarifies a vary of exclusions, this is nonetheless a whole lot far more include than is accessible in other places. 

What you will not get with the Fairphone four 5G is a modern, svelte, up-to-the-minute handset. It is a chunky mobile phone weighing 225g and is a generous ten.5mm thick, with peak and width of 162mm and 75.5mm respectively. The plastic backplate affords some robustness and is not slippery like so lots of handsets. The mobile phone fulfills the MIL-STD 810G drop check. It is also IP54 certified against dust and water ingress (‘dust protected’, ‘splashing of water’). All this tends to make it feel a bit far more like a ‘rugged’ mobile phone. 

You only get the one SIM slot, but the handset can also accommodate an eSIM and both equally will assist 5G. There is also a MicroSD card slot for boosting the on-board storage. My entry-amount review device had 128GB put in, of which 20GB was in use, leaving 108GB no cost. There is certainly a fingerprint reader in the facet-mounted power button. You can attach a headset through a USB-C cable or use Bluetooth, but you can find no devoted 3.5mm jack. 

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The Fairphone four 5G has a facet-mounted fingerprint reader, integrated in the power button.


Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet    

The display screen is a superior sizing at 6.3 inches, with one,080 x two,340 pixels presenting 410ppi pixel density. The leading and base bezels are on the substantial facet, and the IPS panel is not as vivid as AMOLED, but it is all perfectly wonderful, and Gorilla Glass five affords some defense against bumps and spills. 

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G 5G is a mid-vary chipset that aids the Fairphone four 5G provide respectable Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 639 (single main) and 1877 (multicore). By way of comparison, cutting-edge Android handsets score about one thousand and 3000 respectively. 

The Fairphone four 5G operates on Android 11 with no third-celebration buying, amusement or productivity applications, and no games. The one addition to the Android suite is a Fairphone application. When accessing this for the 1st time you can opt to mail analytics and get surveys, following which you can accessibility user guides and suggestions as effectively as learning far more about Fairphone as an organisation. This data is instead sparse, and could do with beefing up.   

In an additional go to lengthen the life span of this handset, Fairphone claims it will present software package assist until the close of 2025, which includes upgrades to Android 12 and Android 13. The enterprise also aims to lengthen this to the close of 2027 with upgrades to Android fourteen and Android 15, even while assist from the chipset provider will have expired. 

The Fairphone four 5G has two rear cameras, both equally with 48MP sensors: one is an f/one.6 huge-angle digital camera with 8x digital zoom, while the other is an f/two.two ultra-huge angle device with a 120-degree field of check out. The selfie digital camera, which life in a teardrop-shaped notch in the display screen, is a 25MP f/two.two shooter with 8x digital zoom.  

SEE: Our previous units are generating a mountain of e-waste. And it is obtaining a whole lot bigger

Graphic quality throughout the board is ideal described as ‘serviceable’, but no far more. Even with optical graphic stabilisation (OIS) on the major digital camera I identified a continual hand was needed to avoid blurring, and getting sharp cat shots was really difficult until the feline was asleep. Minimal light-weight scenes ended up disappointing and the digital camera software package is constrained, with sluggish-mo, time lapse and panorama modes on offer, but minimal else. 

The 3905mAh battery is superior for two hundred several hours while idle and 13 several hours of mobile phone phone calls, in accordance to Fairphone. The PCMark for Android Work 3. battery life test saw it preserve heading for 15 several hours and seven minutes. After playing YouTube video clip from a entire demand for three several hours it had fallen by 28%, suggesting battery existence of about eleven several hours. 

There is no quick-charging functionality here. With no adapter or USB cable in the box, I raided my collection and, with the battery at 31%, begun to demand. After 15 minutes the battery had risen to forty one%, following 30 minutes it was at 53%, and following forty five minutes it had received to 65%. 

Conclusions 

The Fairphone four 5G is a perfectly serviceable mid-vary smartphone, albeit one that can’t compete with the relaxation of the current market in conditions of specs for the rate. But which is not the video game this mobile phone is playing: Fairphone presents moral shoppers somewhere to go, and that has to be a superior matter. 

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