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Fairphone 5 review: delayed gratification

by Maine Bacos

Fairphone has released its latest smartphone, the Fairphone 5, targeting phone buyers who prioritize repairability and sustainability. With its modular design and user-replaceable battery, the Fairphone 5 allows users to easily repair and replace components, extending the phone’s lifespan. The company also focuses on sourcing raw materials sustainably, including Fairtrade gold and recycled aluminum, tin, nickel, and plastics. While the Fairphone 5 comes at a price premium compared to similarly specced competitors, its longevity and repairability make it a worthwhile investment for those who dread having to replace their phone every few years.

The Fairphone 5 is available in three colors, with the transparent variant being particularly notable for its functional transparency. The transparent back showcases the exposed screws and user-replaceable battery, emphasizing the phone’s long-term functionality. Fairphone also aims to be transparent about its production process, paying a living wage bonus to workers and sourcing raw materials sustainably. While Apple also focuses on sustainable sourcing, Fairphone goes further by attempting to source 70 percent of key materials from fair or recycled sources.

In terms of repairability, the Fairphone 5 is designed to be easily opened and repaired. The phone’s modules, such as the battery and rear camera, can be replaced without the need for tools. Fairphone ensures spare parts for the phone will be available for eight to 10 years and offers a five-year warranty for faulty components. This easy repairability sets the Fairphone 5 apart from other smartphones on the market, but it does come with a trade-off. The phone has an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance, falling short of full immersion capabilities.

The Fairphone 5 features an OLED display with a high refresh rate, providing a more modern and impressive screen compared to previous Fairphone models. The phone’s OLED screen is bright, colorful, and sharp, although the stereo speakers may sound hollow compared to other devices. The construction of the Fairphone 5, with its aluminum frame and recycled plastic back, may not feel as premium as competitors, but it aligns with the company’s sustainability goals.

In terms of performance, the Fairphone 5 is powered by a Qualcomm QCM6490 processor, chosen to allow for longer support periods. Fairphone guarantees at least five major Android upgrades after Android 13, with security patches supported until 2031. This extended support makes the Fairphone 5 a standout choice for those who value long-term software updates and security.

Overall, the Fairphone 5 offers an environmentally friendly and repairable option for phone buyers. While it may come at a price premium, its sustainability, easy repairability, and long-term support make it a worthy investment for those who prioritize longevity and sustainability in their phone choices.

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