This Smartphone is Built Different…
The best way to act is if everyone else acted like you, then the world would be great to be the change you want to see in the world right. So in this world of constant e waste and this fight for better, more repairable gadgets, this is called the fairphone 4 and its aiming to do exactly that. So, at first glance, its a pretty basic looking phone, its 579 euros or about 650 dollars, and that gets you a clean basic design, flat front and back curves at the corners a little on the big side, but nothing. We havent seen before thats a 6.3 inch. 1080P display up front a metal frame, a fingerprint sensor on the power button and usbc at the bottom, and it has 5g, which previous earphones didnt, have looks pretty good, but thats thats. Just at first glance. This phone is designed from the ground up to be sustainable. Modular, repairable and upgradable by you. That is very, unlike any other phone out right now, so how do they do it? Well, you start with the basics. You saw the packaging which is recycled paper and cardboard printed with soy ink, so this packaging is entirely sustainable. Then the phone itself is pretty easy to get into for anyone, not just professionals, anyone, so you get into this notch down here, built into the corner of the phone and that lets you pull off the soft touch, fully recycled plastic back cover and that lets you Get into all the parts of this phone, so the 3 900 milliamp hour battery that can be easily popped out, replaced just like the good old days and then the rest of the pieces are all easily accessible by just 12 screws.
So you just need a little phillips screwdriver to jump right in and then each of the parts pops right out like a puzzle piece, so it isnt necessarily individual components, but the camera and speaker housing up here at the top can be removed and replaced pretty easily. If you take off the bottom, you can replace your speaker module for a new one. I literally just popped a ribbon cable off and was able to remove just the usb type c port from this phone. So if your port breaks or gets loose, you dont have to replace all of the inside of your phone. You dont have to pay someone an exorbitant amount of money. You dont have to throw it all out and buy a whole new phone. You just head over to fairphones website and scroll through the list of modules and pieces that they sell and buy exactly which one you need. Then, when you get it, you take the phone apart, pretty quickly and easily and can replace it. So, like i said its not like other phones, you know these days in a normal smartphone. If one little part breaks typically thats. You know you have very limited options where fairphone envisions a future where anyone can identify something broken or something they want to upgrade and just do it themselves. So thatll include your battery your rear facing camera, your front facing camera, your speaker, your earpiece, your usb port and, of course, your display.
The whole front. The display is easily removable with a single ribbon cable and that replacement to the user is 80 euros and honestly very easy to do yourself. Unlike pretty much every other smartphone. This one scores a 10 out of 10 repair score from ifixit theres, no glue, no complex screws, nothing to make it unnecessarily difficult to take apart, and it comes with a five year warranty, including a promise to support the phone and sell the spare parts for five Years after the phone comes out its a dream, so i am a huge fan of this vision, but its worth noting its not perfect right. This is where the inner instinct to review everything comes out for me like if you were to buy this 650 ish dollar phone. There are some obvious trade offs so lets just for the sake of example. Take the fair phone up against if youre gon na buy a phone something else of similar price like pixel six. So for one the fairphone, the fairphone is a thick phone with about three cs right, so its a little bit thicker and heavier than a pixel. But just enough where its not bad, but you can tell the difference in the hand and the specs and performance are just on different levels. So the pixels tensor chip feels roughly equivalent to a high end, snapdragon 8 series, maybe a triple eight or an 865. The fair phone has solid specs, but definitely closer to mid range, snapdragon, 750 g and six or eight gigs of ram with 128 or 256 gigs of storage that incredible removable battery that i talked about.
It is 3 900 milliamp hours, but that is smaller than the 4600 that they fit into the pixel 6 and then the display, while its pretty big and bright and covered in gorilla glass 5. It would also be a relatively weak point in a phone in this range at 1080p, 60hz lcd phones like the pixel 6, would get you a larger, brighter higher refresh rate display that gets much closer to the edges and is oled with all the color and feature Benefits that come with that and then of course we all know about the pixel and its new cameras. The fairphone does have a 48 megapixel main camera and a 48 megapixel ultra wide and a time of flight sensor in this array back here, but theyre theyre acceptable. It looks kind of like a moto g or a samsung, a series phone where theyll give you passable photos in decent light, but as soon as the conditions get tough, they kind of fall apart. There is also a slightly lesser ip54 splash resistance rating for this phone, which is actually kind of amazing for a phone built like this, but that is less than the ip68. The full submersion protection for the pixel theres. Also no wireless charging. The point is, you know these two phones are pretty similar, functionally theyre, both android phones, but as a customer choosing to buy one youd have to really value the repair, ability and the sustainability offered by the fairphone to pick it over the pixel or really any other Phones in this range now part of that is because its hard to do all those things in a super tightly built gadget and do all the repairability and modularity on top of that, but also the other part is, is a small company that doesnt have the same Resources to make an incredible world class bleeding edge phone thats tightly packed and keep the sustainability stuff in their supply chain and keep the price competitive.
So heres my take. There is no such thing as a 100 percent sustainable phone like this like. If you go back far enough, youll find things eventually that are imperfect, so there is no perfect sustainable smartphone, but the fair phone represents the furthest. Anyone has ever gone by far theres a lot of different materials that go into building a smartphone plastic glass, aluminum, nickel, copper fairphone goes the extra mile to source those build materials fairly and responsibly, which definitely costs more. So the back cover of this phone, like i mentioned, is made from 100 recycled plastic and over 50 percent of the plastic inside this phone is post consumer recycled. Then the aluminum rails come from an asi certified vendor, meaning worker health and safety are protected and no child labor is used and even for other mined materials like tin and tungsten and the lithium in the batteries they make sure to invest in sustainable sources or use Mines that have been assessed by irma the initiative for responsible mining assurance, but even so the world still has a cobalt shortage today. So mining it at all is not ideal. We really should be recycling it way more than we do, but a ton of the worlds cobalt is sitting in drawers theres, apparently, 300 million phones just sitting hibernating in drawers right now doing nothing in just germany and france. Imagine how much that scales up for the entire world and then, of course, you can go even further and further back like i can already see the youtube comments like well.
What about the computers theyre using to design these are those sustainable? What about the buildings that they operate out of? Was there solar panels on the roof of the studio they shot their commercials in, like nothing, is a hundred perfectly wholly sustainable and even fairphone could do better. There is no charger in the box in the pixel 6 and a lot of other phones in that price range and theres. Also, no charger in the box for the fairphone but, like i said, fairphone, is setting the bar by going farther than anybody else and even in the case that theyre not perfect fairphone. The company is pledging their entire company to be e waste neutral, meaning for every phone they put out into the market. They collect an equal amount of e waste that explains the slot in the packaging, where you can drop your current device and send it back to them to be recycled. This is the most sustainable phone in the world and its a real phone that you can buy and kinda its only available in europe. So to get it to the us, i had to import it but its real, its a real phone, so it can be done so. The real question is this: is one can other phones be this sustainable too? Yes, and no so one curious thing that was mentioned in fairphones official video when i was on their site, is that they have to in order to offer these five years of replacement parts.
They have to maintain a good relationship with those parts, vendors and their suppliers, and so they cant use two extreme or two low supply versions of parts. They need to use mostly average parts, so the phone has to be an average size and use mostly average specs. Like basically fairphone the company isnt big enough to be designing every single thing inside their own silicon, their own image, sensors, their own displays so theyre bound by those suppliers and what they can continually supply, but even for the others. These mega companies out there who dont have those same bounds. We are often rewarding the phones out there that are pushing the limits that are actually unique and that are different for a change that is, by definition, the opposite of average. That is the opposite of sustainable, but i still think theres room for these other companies to take parts of what fairphone is doing things like not using a ton of glue and not using a bunch of different complex screws and just making their parts in general. A bit more accessible and more repairable and thus a bit more sustainable. So look i dont think fairphone is ever expecting to be a leader, a global leader in smartphone sales like theyre, never going to pass apple or samsung or huawei, or anything like that. But what they are doing is proving that there are real ways for smartphone companies to do better for all of those companies to have better practices, and even small changes from those companies can make a big difference.
So from here on out. I want to make a pledge to include some section in all of my future smartphone reviews on repairability and sustainability, just to shine a light on that and give those companies a reason, a reward to make those compromises. And as for you and i, we can do a much better job of recycling, our old electronics, so uh do you have a smartphone sitting in a drawer unused gathering dust, recycle it anyway. We only have one earth hot take.