The Only Good Modular Phone Now Has New Cameras and Is Even More Sustainable

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo
Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

Get excited, repair nerds: Fairphone is rolling out a new 3+ model with two new camera modules. And yes, they’re compatible with the company’s current Fairphone 3 model.

The sustainability-focused maker of the very best modular phone on Thursday announced its boosted cameras modules, which improve upon those that came standard in the Fairphone 3. These new units — which you’ll be able to purchase separately from the newest Fairphone model — bump the rear-facing camera from 12 megapixels to 48 megapixels and the front-facing selfie camera from 8 megapixels to 16 megapixels. Fairphone says these newer cameras now give the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+ better image stabilisation and object tracking as well as faster auto-focus.

The Fairphone 3+ will come standard with Android 10, which the company said will be available for Fairphone 3 users beginning in September. Besides some software improvements and the newer cameras, Fairphone said the specs on the 3+ are similar to its predecessor. The 3+ will come equipped with a 3000 mAh battery, 64GB of storage (which can be expanded with a microSD card), and a Qualcomm 632 processor.

The biggest overhaul between the 3 and 3+ models, outside of the improved camera modules, is that the Fairphone 3+ is made of 40% recycled plastics (up from 9% in the previous model). That alone is pretty great from a sustainability perspective. But the fact that parts can so be easily swapped in and replaced means that users tend to keep their Fairphones phones for longer — consumers can fix their phones rather than merely replace them, reducing e-waste.

“We believe that we must make the most of the materials used in consumer electronics. We’re moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of our phones, plus making it easier for users to keep their devices for longer,” Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens said in a statement. “The launch of the new camera modules and the Fairphone 3+ is a concrete example of how we’re making this possible. By showing that it is commercially viable to care for people and the planet, we want to motivate the electronics industry to act more responsibly.”

Sadly, the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+ are still optimised for European networks (though that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in other places — if you can get one). A spokesperson told Gizmodo that while the company is still only delivering in Europe, the company is “looking at possibilities for the future” for support in the U.S. as well. (No word on Australia.)

The Fairphone 3+ goes on pre-sale today for €469 (about $767) on its website and officially debuts in Europe on September 14. The separate camera modules will be sold for €70 (about $113) until October 1, when they’ll retail for €95 (roughly ($155).