Fairphone 4 Arrives with a Five-Year Warranty

Posted on September 30, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 13 Comments

Fairphone’s latest sustainable and repair-friendly smartphone is now available and offers five years of support and two major Android updates.

“With each Fairphone we launched, we’ve raised the bar of our challenge to the electronics industry on both sustainability and human rights,” Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens writes in the announcement post. “We championed repairability, widened our reach, scaled up, and proved that sustainability is a viable business model. Fairphone 4 is all about making a fair choice easier.”

From a tech perspective, Fairphone 4 looks like a modern mid-tier smartphone, with its Snapdragon 750G chipset, 6.3-inch HD display, optional 5G connectivity, dual SIM card support, dual 48 MP rears cameras, Wi-Fi 5, and NFC capabilities, plus Android 11. But what sets Fairphone 4 apart, of course, is everything else.

Like previous models, Fairphone 4 is sustainable in that it’s built with responsibly sourced and conflict-free materials, many of which are recycled, and it’s backed by a 5-year warranty. The devices are user-serviceable, with the ability to swap out the battery, display, cameras, and many other parts and replace them easily, using just a standard screwdriver.

“When you buy a Fairphone 4, we responsibly recycle or give one old phone a second life,” the firm explains. “This means 100 percent compensation for the material we put into the market. This is first in the smartphone industry.”

There are 4G and 5G versions of Fairphone 4. Each starts at €579.00, and those configurations offer 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, but there are also €649.00 versions of each with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. There are gray and green versions in 5G, and a speckled green color for the 4G versions.

You can learn more and preorder Fairphone 4 from the Fairphone website.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Fairphone 4 Arrives with a Five-Year Warranty”

  1. jimchamplin

    Is there some substance that Android updates are made of? Something with limited supply? I ask because I can’t think of a reason aside from that a phone would be expected to be used for five years and not get five years of updates.

    They’re afraid of running out of update juice.

    • anoldamigauser

      Qualcomm stops supporting the chip.

    • rmlounsbury

      Ron Amadeo has a good article about their software update cycle on Ars Technica. It looks like Fairphone partnered with Lineage OS and their community to get Fairphone 2 updated to Android 9 in March. They did this without any support from Qualcomm which no longer supports the chipset. So, after about 3-4 years losing the chip manufacturers support probably puts a big damper on their ability to quickly update the OS.

      It looks like their goal is 6-years of support and for Fairphone 4 they are ambitiously planning updating to Android 14 & 15.

      Though, if you are buying this phone my guess is speed of updates isn't really on your list of important features.

      • ontariopundit

        "Though, if you are buying this phone my guess is speed of updates isn't really on your list of important features."

        I would actually think the opposite. Someone who's buying a phone that is designed to have a long service life would expect to have a long software support life.

      • wright_is

        I would expect security updates within 2 - 3 days of Google releasing them. Getting the latest release is nice, but getting security updates within a day or two of Google announcing the fixes is the critical part of the equation.

        Samsung are currently good, I'm still getting updates on my S20 within 1 - 5 days of Google announcing them publicly.

  2. rmlounsbury

    I actually rather like the ideology behind what Fairphone is doing. It is far closer to what Google was trying to do with Project Ara than anything Google ended up getting to. It makes far more sense to just let the user open the phone up and swap modules out vs. the snap in modules Ara was trying to do.

    It would be great to see if Fairphone is ever able to get to a place where they can allow you to swap out the SoC to extend the life of the phone itself. Or, offer up a new frame with the SoC installed and just pull the parts off your old phone, buy the pieces you want to upgrade, and ship-back anything you don't keep.

    It's interesting. Though, $670 for a mid-range in a world where Google Pixel 5a 5G exists at $449 and the Google Pixel 4a is still available at $350 makes this a tough sell. Even if you are trying to be Eco-friendly. Still, I applaud what they are doing.

    If nothing else, I do miss the ability to swap out the battery for a fresh fully charged unit but just pulling off the back of the phone and swapping batteries.

    • wright_is

      But you will have to replace that Pixel at least once during the expected lifetime of the Fairphone...

      One of my brother-in-laws has the previous model. He is very green in most things - he works an an ecologist. I like the idea, but, due to the way Google and Qualcomm work the business model is, unfortunately, flawed. They have to put in much more work than should be needed.

      Apple have similar support lifecycles, although you can't swap out components for newer ones, the device is at least supported for a similar amount of time.

      I know people who are still using 7 - 8 year old iPhones and Android phones. They can't afford to upgrade and the old phones "still work", even if they are a security nightmare. But average phone users have absolutely no idea about security, which is a big shame.

      Smartphones are treated like old dumb phones (or pretty much any white good), if it still works, everything is good.

  3. harmjr

    I hope they come to the US. I would consider them as a contender for my upgrade in about 3 years.

    I am willing to bet they wont survive. Repairable phone. That breaks the business model of Apple and Samsung.

    • ontariopundit

      A repairable phone isn't that much of a threat to Apple or even Samsung. Samsung users tend to simply buy a new one at the low end and there is a thriving market for iPhone repairs. Plus, the number one enemy of electronics is moisture and the iPhones (& higher end Samsung phones) protect against quite a bit of damage that would destroy phones a decade ago.

      A user repairable phone can't have that kind of water protection so the gains in being able to repair a screen are almost certainly offset by the losses suffered to moisture (and you can't fix corroded parts, no matter how hard you try).

      In theory FairPhone is a great idea but in practice their volumes are simply too small to make a dent.

      Plus past problems with updates don't give me much confidence in their longevity.

    • wright_is

      One of my brother-in-laws finally replaced his Samsung Galaxy S4 mini last year... Another has the previous Fairphone.

      But new laws mean that phones have to be repairable and the manufacturers have to supply repair services with spare parts for at least 5 years. If that really works out, the need for the Fairphone drops, it is a great project and really calls out the short-sightedness of the major manufacturers.

      Making profits by selling new tat every year, when we have dwindling resources is not a sustainable model.

  4. markbyrn

    So what labor fair green country are these high-priced mid-tier devices manufactured in?

  5. Chris_Kez

    Kind of surprised there is no headphone jack.

    • ontariopundit

      I could see the head phone being a huge source of hardware failures. Same with a charging port (of course, of they've designed their charging port module well that can simply be swapped out :)