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New Fairphone 4 5G has the iPhone 13 beat for repairability and sustainability

TechRadar logo TechRadar 9/30/2021 Hamish Hector
Fairphone 4 © Provided by TechRadar Fairphone 4

Smartphone brand Fairphone has just announced the world’s first modular 5G smartphone, the Fairphone 4 5G. It promises the new device will deliver great performance in a more sustainable package than its rivals.

If you want to nab one of these phones for yourself you’ll have two options to pick between when it launches on October 25; one model comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, while the other bumps that up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. 

Both devices otherwise boast the same 6.3-inch Full HD+ display, a 3,905mAh replaceable battery that can be charged to 50% in 30 minutes (with a 20W USB-C charger), and three cameras - a 48MP main camera and a 48MP ultra-wide camera on the back, plus a 25MP selfie camera on the front.

The Fairphone 4 5G will run Android 11 when it launches, but Fairphone has guaranteed software support for at least the next few years, until the end of 2025 - including upgrades to Android 12 and Android 13. The company hopes to continue support even further too, until the end of 2027.

Fairphone won’t just look after your software, but your hardware too. If you register your new Fairphone 4 on its website you’ll get a whopping five-year-long warranty at no additional cost.

When the Fairphone 4 5G launches in Europe on October 25 you’ll be able to purchase the 6GB RAM / 128GB storage model for £499 (around $670 / AU$930), and the 8GB RAM / 256GB storage option for £569 (roughly $765 / AU$1,065), though it won't be available in the US or Australia.

You can find out more about this new smartphone in our Fairphone 4 5G review.

Analysis: a phone you can be proud to own 

While the Fairphone 4 5G boasts some decent specs at its price, this phone wants to be more than just its specs. To this end, Fairphone is expanding its measures to make the Fairphone 4 its most sustainable handset yet.

To achieve this, Fairphone started by sourcing fair and recycled materials to construct the device. The back cover is made of 100% post-consumer recycled polycarbonate, and Fairphone is making a dedicated effort to source its most key materials from sources that treat workers safely and don’t rely on child labor. In 2020 this meant 56% of its focus materials were sourced from confirmed fair sources, up from 32% in 2019.

Once the phone is in your hands Fairphone continues its sustainability efforts thanks to the handset's modular design. Rather than having to replace your whole device when one component breaks, you can instead purchase a single replacement part through Fairphone’s online store and fix the phone yourself.

This isn’t just talk either, as the 6GB RAM / 128GB storage Fairphone 4 model achieved an 85/100 Eco Rating score, while the 8GB RAM / 256GB version received a 9.3 out of 10 on the French Repairability Index - compared to the iPhone 12’s 6.0 and Samsung Galaxy S21’s 8.0 scores on the same index.

While Fairphone’s latest device isn’t perfect (sourcing only 56% of some materials from fair sources isn’t the most impressive stat) it at least seems to be a more sustainable option than most other smartphone choices out there. If you want a phone that performs as well environmentally as it does on the tech side then this could be one you’ll want to check out.

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