Fairphone 4 5G review: A sustainable smartphone for ethical consumers

Nancy J. Delong



  • Moral, sustainable rules
  • Modular hardware style
  • Actual physical SIM and eSIM – both 5G
  • Prolonged software package assist

Will not Like

  • On the big/hefty side
  • Cameras could be superior
  • Pricey offered the specifications

Most smartphones have a lifestyle of a pair of several years prior to they start out to sense long in the tooth. But in these times of environmental recognition, lots of sense that it can be wasteful to junk a handset in favour of a entirely new just one when we could, in theory, get a far more sustainable technique.  

That is the ethos driving Fairphone, which has been selling modular, self-repairable phones for several years now. You might not get the newest and greatest technological know-how, but you do get a phone that’s much far more sustainable than just about anything else on the current market. And now, Fairphone 4 supports 5G.


The modular six.three-inch Fairphone 4 5G appears to be like far more like a common smartphone than preceding styles, although it can be a chunky 225g handset that’s 10.5mm thick.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

There are two Fairphone 4 5G styles out there, and you buy direct. For £499/€579 (~$675) you get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, when £569/€649 (~$755) buys you 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Both configurations are out there in a chassis with possibly a grey, eco-friendly or speckled eco-friendly backplate. I was sent the 6GB/128GB grey alternative to review. I would have liked to see the speckled eco-friendly.

Fairphone provides neither charger, earphones nor USB-C cost cable, although a ‘long life’ cable is out there as an include-on for £31.ninety five. Perhaps this pricing is made to discourage income — immediately after all, lots of persons currently have USB-C cost cables, so why assist the manufacture of nonetheless an additional? Shipping is carbon neutral, as Fairphone offsets the carbon emissions connected with transportation. Only a picked range of European nations are served — look at the list here.

All of this emphasises that Fairphone is not just about the handset alone. The entire ethic is close to sustainability. Fairphones are made with up to 40% recycled plastics, the products used in phones are sustainably sourced, and for every single Fairphone 4 phone offered, Fairphone commits to recycling or refurbishing just one product. There is a ton far more depth on this and other initiatives at Fairphone’s internet site.    


You can exchange the Fairphone 4’s battery, rear cameras, selfie camera, USB-C port, speaker, earpiece, display and rear deal with. You even get a scewdriver.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

I pointed out before that the Fairphone 4 5G is a modular, self-repairable handset. There is a screwdriver in the box for removing (and changing) the modules. The numerous spare pieces out there at the time of composing are: battery (£25.ninety five), rear cameras (£69.ninety five), selfie camera (£25,ninety five), USB-C port (£12.ninety five), loudspeaker (£17.ninety five), earpiece (£12.ninety five). The display and back again deal with should also be out there, but their rates were not outlined at the time of composing. 

As component of the sustainability ethic, the Fairphone 4 5G arrives with a 5-year guarantee from production problems, and when the small print understandably clarifies a range of exclusions, this is even now a ton far more deal with than is out there in other places. 

What you will not get with the Fairphone 4 5G is a sleek, svelte, up-to-the-minute handset. It’s a chunky phone weighing 225g and is a generous 10.5mm thick, with top and width of 162mm and 75.5mm respectively. The plastic backplate affords some robustness and is not slippery like so lots of handsets. The phone meets the MIL-STD 810G drop exam. It’s also IP54 certified from dust and drinking water ingress (‘dust protected’, ‘splashing of water’). All this will make it sense a bit far more like a ‘rugged’ phone. 

You only get the just one SIM slot, but the handset can also accommodate an eSIM and both will assist 5G. There is also a MicroSD card slot for boosting the on-board storage. My entry-stage review device experienced 128GB put in, of which 20GB was in use, leaving 108GB cost-free. There is a fingerprint reader in the side-mounted electrical power button. You can attach a headset by way of a USB-C cable or use Bluetooth, but there is certainly no dedicated three.5mm jack. 


The Fairphone 4 5G has a side-mounted fingerprint reader, incorporated in the electrical power button.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet    

The display screen is a superior measurement at six.three inches, with one,080 x two,340 pixels featuring 410ppi pixel density. The top and base bezels are on the big side, and the IPS panel is not as vibrant as AMOLED, but it can be all flawlessly fantastic, and Gorilla Glass 5 affords some protection from bumps and spills. 

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G 5G is a mid-range chipset that aids the Fairphone 4 5G deliver respectable Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 639 (solitary core) and 1877 (multicore). By way of comparison, cutting-edge Android handsets score close to a thousand and 3000 respectively. 

The Fairphone 4 5G operates on Android 11 with no 3rd-get together buying, leisure or efficiency apps, and no online games. The just one addition to the Android suite is a Fairphone app. When accessing this for the 1st time you can decide to deliver analytics and obtain surveys, immediately after which you can access consumer guides and ideas as properly as understanding far more about Fairphone as an organisation. This facts is rather sparse, and could do with beefing up.   

In an additional go to lengthen the life time of this handset, Fairphone claims it will present software package assist right until the stop of 2025, which includes upgrades to Android twelve and Android 13. The company also aims to lengthen this to the stop of 2027 with upgrades to Android 14 and Android fifteen, even however assist from the chipset supplier will have expired. 

The Fairphone 4 5G has two rear cameras, both with 48MP sensors: just one is an f/one.six broad-angle camera with 8x digital zoom, when the other is an f/two.two extremely-broad angle device with a 120-diploma industry of look at. The selfie camera, which lives in a teardrop-shaped notch in the display screen, is a 25MP f/two.two shooter with 8x digital zoom.  

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Picture high quality across the board is finest described as ‘serviceable’, but no far more. Even with optical graphic stabilisation (OIS) on the principal camera I uncovered a continuous hand was wanted to stay clear of blurring, and using sharp cat photographs was really tough unless the feline was asleep. Reduced light-weight scenes were disappointing and the camera software package is restricted, with gradual-mo, time lapse and panorama modes on offer you, but small else. 

The 3905mAh battery is superior for 200 hours when idle and 13 hours of phone calls, in accordance to Fairphone. The PCMark for Android Work three. battery life test noticed it continue to keep likely for fifteen hours and seven minutes. Just after enjoying YouTube video from a total cost for 3 hours it experienced fallen by 28%, suggesting battery lifestyle of close to 11 hours. 

There is no rapid-charging capacity here. With no adapter or USB cable in the box, I raided my collection and, with the battery at 31%, begun to cost. Just after fifteen minutes the battery experienced risen to forty one%, immediately after 30 minutes it was at fifty three%, and immediately after 45 minutes it experienced received to sixty five%. 


The Fairphone 4 5G is a flawlessly serviceable mid-range smartphone, albeit just one that won’t be able to contend with the rest of the current market in conditions of specs for the price. But that’s not the activity this phone is enjoying: Fairphone gives moral shoppers somewhere to go, and that has to be a superior point. 

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