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IFA 2023: Fairphone 5 more ethical than ever

The Fairphone 5 is better for the planet, but its eco-conscious credentials bump up the price

The Fairphone 5, the latest in the company’s line of eco-friendly smartphones, has been officially unveiled. Shown off during IFA 2023, the Fairphone 5 is a modular, repairable handset that’s not only kinder on the planet but also provides a higher living wage for workers on the production lines.

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Through the use of the company’s “made fair” approach to smartphone manufacturing, 70% of 14 key materials used as part of the Fairphone 5 manufacturing process are now listed as coming from either recycled or fair-mined sources. This includes the use of lithium, tungsten and gold sourced via various sustainability initiatives, alongside aluminium recycling and other rare earth elements.

The Fairphone 5’s removable battery, for instance, incorporates fairly sourced lithium and Fairtrade gold in the supply chain, which the company says benefits mine workers and surrounding communities with improved working conditions.

On that note, Fairphone’s living wage programme has also been expanded to its component suppliers, with more than 2,000 workers now being paid a higher income. This includes those working on assembly, as well as battery, PCB and vibration motor productions and supposedly results in a cost of $2.65 per phone.

The Fairphone 5 has a handful of benefits for the end user, too. What’s most impressive is that the company has promised software support for at least eight years, with a goal to extend this all the way to 2033. Most smartphones launch with three, or in some rare cases, five years of software upgrades, so this is welcome news if longevity is your biggest concern.

It also incorporates a handy modular design, allowing you to easily replace components by simply unscrewing a few screws and unpicking the occasional ribbon cable. There are ten replaceable components this year, including the battery, display and USB-C port, and they can all be purchased through Fairphone’s webshop or other suppliers such as iFixit.

As for the specs, the Fairphone 5 is both thinner and lighter than the Fairphone 4, with an improved IP55 water- and dust-resistance rating (up from IP54). The new 6.46in OLED display refreshes at 90Hz, and there’s an octa-core Qualcomm CQM6490 inside, alongside a 4,200mAh battery, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of expandable storage.

The camera offering is led by a 50MP (f/1.88) Sony IMX800 main sensor, which works alongside another 50MP Sony IMX858 121-degree ultrawide camera and a ToF depth-sensing unit. The front-facing camera is a 50MP affair, embedded in a hole-punch notch at the top of the display.

The Fairphone 5 is available to preorder right now and can be picked up in either sky blue, matte black or a fancy see-through transparent edition. It’s priced at €699, which does seem like you’re having to pay a bit of a premium for those eco-conscious credentials. However, we’ll be able to deliver our full verdict in the coming weeks when we receive a handset for review.

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