Fairphone is unique in the world of smartphones. It’s pretty much the only company trying to build a sustainable device that isn’t glued together and hostile to the repair community. Today, Fairphone is announcing a brand-new flagship: the Fairphone 4, which brings an updated design and better specs while still shipping with all the modularity you would expect.
The base specs for the 579 euros ($671) model include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G SoC, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. There’s also a 649 euro ($753) version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. On the front, you’ll get a 6.3-inch, 2340×1080 LCD with slimmer bezels (compared to the Fairphone 3 design) and a teardrop notch for the 25 MP front camera. The 3905 mAh battery is Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.1 compatible, so if you have a compatible USB-C charger (not included in the box), you can take the battery from 0-50 percent in 30 minutes. The phone ships with Android 11 and has a side fingerprint reader in the power button, a MicroSD slot, and the option for dual SIM usage via the one physical nanoSIM and an eSIM.
Surprisingly, there isn’t a headphone jack, which seems like something Fairphone’s demographic would really have wanted. Wired headphones last indefinitely, while Bluetooth buds turn into garbage after a few years when the batteries die. It seems antithetical to Fairphone’s sustainability pitch to tell people to run out and buy Bluetooth headphones.
On the back you’ll find a 48 MP main camera with OIS and a 48 MP wide-angle camera with a macro feature. The third circle on the back isn’t a camera; instead, it houses a laser autofocus system, color sensor, and a time-of-flight sensor.
The key Fairphone feature is the modular components, which make repairs easy with just a screwdriver. Inside the phone, you’ll find eight easily replaceable parts: the display, the USB-C port, selfie camera, ear speaker, main camera array, loudspeaker, battery, and the rubberized back. If you break anything, all of these parts will be available for sale on Fairphone.com. The only “noncommercial spare part” is the core module, which features the SoC, storage, RAM, device frame, and fingerprint reader.
Fairphone is striving for longevity this year, and the easy repairability of this model allows for an incredible five-year warranty at no extra cost. The company is also promising “long-term availability of spare parts”—parts for the Fairphone 2, a device that launched in 2015, are still for sale on the website.
It’s not just hardware where Fairphone is blazing a path of sustainability. The company has also been putting a herculean effort into software updates, like when it updated the 5-year-old Fairphone 2 to Android 9.0 this March. Fairphone did this without Qualcomm’s help, which has long abandoned the chips it created five years ago. Updating an Android device without chipset-vendor support is unprecedented, but Fairphone still spent the money and partnered with the LineageOS community to make it happen.
Fairphone says it wants to continue the industry-leading update work it has been doing with the Fairphone 4, but a lack of support from basically everyone else in the industry means the future is unpredictable. So Fairphone is guaranteeing updates until the end of 2025, when Qualcomm’s support runs out, and then shooting for more.
Here’s the full statement:
For Fairphone 4, software support is guaranteed until the end of 2025 and includes upgrades to Android 12 and Android 13, but the company aims to extend it even further, until the end of 2027, with upgrades to Android 14 and Android 15 despite support from the chipset supplier expiring. With this unparalleled ambition, Fairphone is aiming to repeat what it succeeded in doing with a previous model: six years of software support from the launch of an Android device.
The Fairphone 4 is up for preorder today and ships October 25. It will be widely available across Europe and the UK, and that’s only Europe and UK, by the way. Those of us in the US still can’t have nice things. What will it take, Fairphone? There are people in the US who want to support this.
Listing image by Fairphone