Is the Fairphone 3 the most sustainable smartphone on the market?

Ethical and sustainable smartphone brand Fairphone is back with a brand new device, Fairphone 3. 

Created by a Dutch social enterprise, Fairphone makes a break from the standard smartphones available on the market with flashy features like glass designs and extensive camera capabilities. Instead, the focus is on creating phones that have reduced environmental impact, using conflict-free, recyclable and Fairtrade materials. 

On top of this, Fairphone devices are modular, meaning separate parts of the phone can be fixed so you don’t throw it away when the battery becomes unusable or a screen breaks. This helps to extend the life of the phone, reducing e-waste. 

The new Fairphone 3 is slimmer than the previous iteration with a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device and some fairly substantial bezels (frame around the screen). Inside, it is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 632 processor, meaning the phone should have solid mid-range performance, and will run Android Pie.

There’s a 12MP camera on the back and an 8MP selfie camera, up from the Fairphone 2’s 5MP selfie camera.  

As well, the phone’s battery can be replaced when it starts to falter, so the device can keep going for longer. Thanks to these replaceable features, the Fairphone 3 has a longer projected lifespan than other phones – Fairphone says it can save 30 per cent of CO2 emissions compared to other devices.

Carbon emissions isn’t something we often think about when it comes to gadgets, but it can be a major part of the manufacturing process. Due to the way different devices are made, there can be a major difference between their carbon footprints, for instance, due to way the iPhone XS 512GB version is made, it emits around 29kg more in carbon emissions than the 64GB version, according to Compare and Recycle. 

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The Fairphone 3 device is modular – meaning different parts can be replaced and repaired when needed which makes it more sustainable (Fairphone)

The new Fairphone device is also shipped in eco-friendly packaging.

Speaking about the launch of the new phone, Fairphone’s CEO Eva Gouwens, said: “We envision an economy where consideration for people and the planet is a natural part of doing business. This is why we are creating scalable and replicable models in our impact areas for the industry and improve our supply chain and products step by step. But we cannot do this alone or overnight. 

“To make lasting change possible, we need to transform the industry. The strongest signal that we can send is that there is a market for more sustainable products, which is why we developed the Fairphone 3 to be a real sustainable alternative on the market.”

The phone is available to buy from Sky Mobile as part of Sky’s commitment to creating a plastic-free future. Available to pre-order now, the Fairphone 3 will be available on general release on September 3, with prices starting from £21 a month. This means that Fairphone 3 owners will also benefit from things like Roll, which allows customers to roll over their unused data and unlimited streaming on Sky apps including Sky Go and Sky Sports. 

The Fairphone 3 won’t be able to stand up to the likes of the top range phones from Apple, Huawei and Samsung, but if it’s sustainability and ethics you care about when it comes to tech then this phone is a sure-fire way to make a statement. 


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