The Fairphone 5 is unlike any other smartphone on the market. If you choose this as your next phone, you send a clear message that you believe in ethically sourced materials, that the people who make these devices deserve fair pay and safe working conditions, and that we should all have the right to repair. This fix for planned obsolescence could last you up to ten years. Fairphone, a Dutch company, beat the odds by making its fifth phone. It has found a place in a market where even big companies like Microsoft, HTC, LG, and Sony have failed or had trouble. The Fairphone 5 is by far the best smartphone the company has made, but if you compare it to other phones in the same price range, it falls short.
Fairphone 5: Description
The Fairphone 5 is a green smartphone made by Fairphone, a Dutch company known for making products that are good for people and the environment. The company’s fifth smartphone is the Fairphone 5, and it is the most ambitious one yet. The Fairphone 5 is made from recycled and ethically sourced parts, and it’s made to be easy to fix. The phone’s design is modular, which means that parts can be changed out without having to replace the whole thing. This is a big advantage over older smartphones, which are often hard to fix and cost a lot to fix.
The Fairphone 5 has a good range of features and is also environmentally friendly and easy to fix. The phone has a Qualcomm QCM6490 processor, a 6.46-inch FHD+ screen, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. It also has a 50MP main camera and an ultrawide sensor on the back, as well as a 50MP main camera and an ultrawide sensor on the front. The Fairphone 5 is a good choice for people who want a smartphone with good features that is good for the environment and can be fixed. But it’s important to know that the phone costs more than some other smartphones with similar features.
Fairphone 5: Price and Availability
The Fairphone 5 will cost £649 or €699 if you buy it directly from Fairphone. Fairphone sells the last model, but it’s not clear if this new one will be, too. If the company does decide to start Stateside, we think it will cost around $800. That’s a good price since it’s supposed to last at least eight years, but in the smartphone market, it’s more expensive than phones that work better.
For example, the Google Pixel 7a costs £449 and has better speed and photos. But it’s not fair to compare the Fairphone 5 to other phones. You’re getting this to help a good cause and to avoid having to buy a new phone every two years. I do think that the price is fair.
Fairphone 5: Specifications Table
The device feels sturdy and well-made, but it looks a bit old compared to the newest designs. It has IP55 water protection, which means it can handle rain, spray, and splashes just fine, but not drops into a swimming pool. The sound speakers are fine, but they can’t compete with those of an iPhone or a Samsung.
|Display||6.46 inch QHD+ OLED, 90Hz|
|Operating system||Android 13, planned upgrade to Android 14|
|Camera||50 MP, f/1.9, (wide) and 50 MP, f/2.2, (ultrawide)|
|Front Camera||50 MP, f/2.5, (wide)|
|Battery||4200mAh removable battery|
|Connectivity||5G, esim + nanosim, wifi6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GPS|
|Water resistance||IP55 (spray/splash)|
|Dimension||6.36 x 2.98 x 0.38 in|
Fairphone 5: Design and Build
There are a few differences, but the Fairphone 5 looks a lot like the Fairphone 4. The design is simple. The body is 9.6 mm thick and has rounded ends and corners. My sample is the excellent transparent version, which lets you see through the removable plate to the changeable battery and well-thought-out modular design underneath. There are also plainer, less transparent black and blue types, or you can buy all three and switch them out like you did with your old Nokia in 2002.
It weighs 212g and only has an IP55 rating for dust and water protection, which means you shouldn’t get it wet. It makes sense when the phone is made so that the owner can take it apart and put it back together. The phone comes in a package that can be recycled, but it doesn’t have a charging wire, brick, or screwdriver. To take the phone apart, you can buy the latter on its own.
Fairphone 5: Display
This time, the Fairphone 5 has a bigger 6.46-inch screen with a better resolution of 1224 x 2700px to match. Now, instead of an LCD, it has an OLED, but the frame rate is only 90Hz when the industry standard has been 120Hz for a while. Even for HDR, there are no qualifications. But the brightness control is pretty good because the screen responds quickly to changes in the environment.
You can also let the software set the right color temperature based on the lighting in the room. In terms of brightness, the Fairphone 5 got as bright as 576 nits in manual mode. In auto mode, the panel got as bright as 772 nits, which is pretty close to the 800 nits that is said to be normal. Even though this isn’t the best, it’s enough to be comfortable outside even on the sunniest days.
Fairphone 5: Cameras
On the back of the phone, there are two 50MP cameras, and the front-facing camera is also 50MP. The main camera is the best. It takes good pictures in good light, but sometimes the colors aren’t as consistent as on other phones. The ultrawide camera is good, but it lacks detail, especially around the edges of pictures. Both have trouble when there isn’t enough light, so shots taken in low light can be bright enough but are blurry and lack clarity.
The same is true for the selfie camera, which takes good pictures when there is enough light but fails when there isn’t enough. The phone has a fun macro photography mode that uses the ultrawide camera, a pro mode with manual settings, slow-mo video up to 240 frames per second, and regular video up to 4K at 30 frames per second. But the Fairphone’s camera is its weaker point. It is possible to take good pictures with it, but it usually can’t compete with popular rivals because they have much better software that makes the hardware work better.
Fairphone 5: Speakers
The speakers on the Fairphone 5 are a mix of a loudspeaker and an earpiece. The loudspeaker is at the bottom, and the earpiece is at the top. The bottom speaker is louder than the other, so the balance could be better. But the biggest problem with the setup is how loud it is overall. A phone in this price level with an overall score of -31 LUFS is not very good. The audio sound is also not very good. The music sounds rather flat, but there isn’t much distortion when the volume is turned up. Still, the speakers aren’t very loud to begin with.
Fairphone 5: Performance
The Qualcomm Snapdragon QCM6490 processor is used in the Fairphone 5. That one doesn’t come up very often in smartphones. Fairphone says that choosing it is “unique,” and it is a chip that is usually found in business-grade gear. The company thinks it would be better to get software changes for eight years. It also works with 5G. The problem is that the performance isn’t very good right now, which is frustrating. The phone often stutters and lags, making it hard to use even for simple calls.
Apps and games work about as well as they do on phones that cost half as much, and even with 8GB of RAM, it will take a half-second longer for apps to open than on more popular phones. Even though most 3D games are set to lower quality settings by default, you can still play them at good frame rates, and it’s not really slow in general use. If Fairphone uses this chip, it can offer five major versions of Android and eight years of security updates, but it’s not clear what the performance will be like in eight years.
Battery Life and Charging
The Fairphone 5’s changeable battery makes me think of my old Nokia 3310 or phones from 2015 like the LG G4 that had batteries you could take out of the phone without tools. Fairphone sells extra batteries for £35.95, so you could get an extra one and keep it charged in case you need to switch it out quickly or if you’re going to be away from a plug for a few days.
Unfortunately, the battery life isn’t great. I used the phone moderately to heavily for a full day, but it was dead by night. I would have liked a better battery for such a low-powered phone, but 4,200mAh is less than the 5,000mAh that is becoming more popular in mid-range Android phones, which is a trade-off you might be willing to make for being able to fix it. My 30W USB-C charger charged the phone so painfully slowly that it only got to 29% in half an hour. There’s no way to charge wirelessly.
Fairphone 5: Pros and Cons
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- Eight to 10 years of software support
- Very repairable
- Five-year warranty
- strong environmental message
- Desktop mode
- Mid-range performance
- average camera
- Merely OK battery life
The Fairphone 5 is a big step forward in the fight against waste in the smartphone business. Updating software for up to 10 years is unheard of, so it gets an extra star for that. And the Fairphone is easy enough to fix that a quick and cheap battery swap should be able to keep the hardware going just as long. It also has a five-year warranty and is made with as many recycled and carefully sourced materials as possible.
Aside from being a little bit bigger and having a plastic back, it doesn’t look too strange. My biggest fear is about the Fairphone’s chip. Something that works fine now might be painfully slow in ten years. Just wait and see. Another weak point is the camera. It will be fine for the occasional snap, but it can’t compete with even much cheaper mainstream rivals because they have much better software.