Fairphone 5 is a step forward in modern looks for the sustainability-focused brands but it isn’t all rosy. However, its repairability and replaceability features are more versatile and inviting than ever for those who want a phone that can be with them a long time. Fairphone thinks you’ll still be using this in 2031, with 8-year software support being one of this phone’s more attention-grabbing features.
- Software updates until 20318 years of software updates and a 5-year warranty
- RepairabilityReplaceable display, cameras, battery and more
- OLED touchscreenModern 6.46-inch Full HD+ display
Many brands like to talk about sustainability but there are few brands who blend it into every product quite like Fairphone. Fairphone 5 is taking it even further and aiming to offer a broader appeal.
Fairphone has always prided its products on long term support and repairability, and the Fairphone 5 is no different. But, not only is the company enhancing those aspects from the Fairphone 4, it is looking to make it a better phone experience in the more typical sense.
The eye-catching longevity-flavoured feature is a whopping 8 years of suoftware updates but it’s some neat upgrade to traditional specifications that could make the Fairphone 5 a buy for a wider audience. I went hands-on with the new Fairphone at IFA 2023 and here are my first impressions.
Design and Screen
- Full HD+ 90Hz AMOLED display
- 9.6mm thin and 212g
- Replaceable and repairable parts
Previously, it’d be easy to say Fairphone was all about its sustainability qualities but, with Fairphone 5, it isn’t the be all and end all. However, it is still the key selling point. The Fairphone 5 is the company’s “most sustainable phone yet” donning hardware and design benefits like a 5 year warranty, more than 70% of materials used being rair or recycled focused and several repairable aspects.
Fairphone makes this device easy to repair with nothing being clued down and everything from the camera, battery and display to the speaker and USB-C port being user-replaceable. This is what makes this phone stand out and it’s what you need to be a invested in to accept other potential shortcomings.
One of those factors where it doesn’t quite match up to other phones in the around £700 price bracket is design, even with improvements from Fairphone 4. At 9.6mm thin and 212 grams in weight, this phone is undoubtedly heavier and thicker than many key rivals from the likes of Google, Samsung, Apple and more. However, this phone is far from the proverbial brick and, unless you’re moving from a device like the 7.8mm and 178g iPhone 14, I don’t think the heft would bother you than much. And, the thickness really is a necessity to offer such stunning repairability.
Sky Blue Fairphone 5
Transparent Edition Fairphone 5
But, with Fairphone 5, the company is doing its best in the looks department to keep up with rivals. Of course, you aren’t getting a swanky glass sandwich and metal laden design here but it doesn’t feel cheap. The Matte Black, Sky Blue and Transparent Edition colourways are all eye-catching in their own ways too.
Fairphone is also breathing contemporary life into this phone with a new 6.46-inch Full HD+ 90Hz AMOLED display. This panel ensures that your (and my) first impressions don’t lead to questions of the quality of the the screen. AMOLED does its job, providing vibrant and punchy colours right off the bat while the 90Hz panel gives that smooth scrolling.
- 50MP main camera, 50MP ultra wide
- Replaceable rear and selfie camera modules
- 1080p 60fps/4K 30fps video recording
The proof will be in the pudding of our full review when it comes to camera results but the specs come in strong at 50MP across the board. That’s a 50MP main, 50MP ultra-wide and 50MP selfie camera. In terms of features, you’ll find Super Night Mode, Portrait Mode and Pro Mode in this setup. Fairphone is also touting super fast auto-focus with zero shutter lag and advanced face recognition. Both the selfie camera and the ultra wide use pixel binning to output a 12.5MP image.
For videos, 4K resolution in now supported alongside 1080p and up to 60fps. You can also take advantage of a Slow Motion mode at 240 frames as well as HDR video. Action Mode is onboard for stable shots when in motion too.
Again, full judgement reserved for our thorough testing, but my initial impressions when I took a few quick snaps weren’t great. The results certainly weren’t eye-catching and I wouldn’t expect this camera to live up to the high standards of similarly priced rivals like the Google Pixel 7a.
Performance and Software
- Unique Qualcomm QCM 6490 chip
- 8 years of sofware support
- 4200mAh battery
Very few will have but if you’re at all familiar with the Qualcomm QCM 6490 chipset then you may raise an eyebrow. That’s because it’s a chip generally reserved for Internet of Things (IoT) devices rather than fully fledged smartphones that generally don a Snapdragon chip. The reason for this strange inclusion is that it enables the long support from Qualcomm for this chip, until 2028, then Fairphone will offer updates until 2031. Yup, that is a whopping 8 years of software support.
But, it’s fair for such a move to give you performance concerns, and this is another area where we need to put the Fairphone through its paces in a full review. Nevertheless, my first impressions were perfectly acceptable. Nothing concerning cropped up during my short time scrolling around this device and, aided by the 90Hz display, it seemed suitably nippy.
The Fairphone 5 offers a 4200mAh battery, which doesn’t sound all that large, but the company is claiming 32 hours of “regular use” and it’ll be interesting to see if it’s unique chipset plays its part in being able to provide this. There’s no wireless charging but you do get appropriately modern 30W wired charging. You can also boost the 256GB internal storage up to 2TB with a microSD card.
The Fairphone 5 is, once again, all about sustainability, but the company is trying to keep the phone in line with modern specifications now too.
Regardless, you’ll likely only be forking out the £600-plus price tag if you’re invested in the repairability, replaceability and longevity benefits this offers.
The display looks set to keep up with rivals in the space while the battery may have a pleasant surprise up its sleeve but its unclear if the design and camera will be enough to satiate those who still require contemporary features across the board.
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50MP main, 50MP ultra-wide
162 x 75.5 x 10.5 MM
2700 x 1224
Matte Black, Sky Blue, Transparent Edition
A ‘hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.