Maybe it's time to consider ethics when buying a mobile phone

Maybe it's time to consider ethics when buying a mobile phone

How many of us will buy a phone based on the camera, battery life, looks or price? And yet, I’m willing to bet, few will choose a new mobile phone-based on ethics. Well, until now there have been no options for those who want a more sustainable phone that guarantees the use of that were ethically-sourced materials.

The Fairphone 3 is incredibly unique in that it really can be considered sustainable. Other manufacturers might talk about sustainability, but the Fairphone 3 takes it to the next level.The ethical, reliable and sustainable handset is manufactured from responsibly sourced, conflict-free tin and tungsten, recycled copper and plastics, and gold sourced by Fairtrade.

I’ve been testing The third iteration of the Fairphone for the last few weeks and while it’is not cheap but it does go easy on the conscience.

All you get in the box is a USB-C charging cable, the phone and a little screwdriver. The reason for the latter is that all of the components in the phone are modular and can be user replaced including the screen and the camera. Even the battery is removable. — when’s the last time you saw that in a phone?

The Fairphone 3 isn’t a premium looking device, but it does sport a large 5.65-inch full HD display in the 18:9 format. The LCD screen quality is fine but far from class-leading.

The back is made from a translucent material and you can see into the phone’s guts. On the removable battery is the slogan ‘Change is in your hands’. A nice reminder to us all.

The hardware is mid-range at best and features a Snapdragon 632 chip, 4GB of RAM, Dual SIM, 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the phone as well as a fingerprint reader on the back.

The Fairphone 3 runs Android 9, not the latest version 10. It isn’t the fastest mid-range phone and is only an average performer overall. It does get the job done and The battery is good enough to get you through the day and perhaps two with light use. You don’t get a charger in the box, but who doesn’t have plenty of them hanging around?

The cameras are fine, but you only get a single 12mp rear shooter. The front selfie camera is 8MP. Image quality is good when there’s ample light but suffers in low light. It does have a portrait mode too, but I found the results went from average to terrible with large portions of hair being blurred out.

One of the key selling features of the Fairphone 3 is that you can replace parts yourself. Replaceable modules include the camera, speaker module, bottom module, top module, display, battery and back cover which can be ordered directly from Fairphone online.

Based on the performance and hardware alone, it’s hard to recommend the Fairphone 3 for the price, but it is an ethical, reliable and sustainable handset and I don’t know of any other handset that can claim that.

The Fairphone 3 costs €450 from fairphone.com. Also from Vodafone Pay As You Go from €429 and Bill Pay from FREE.

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