TL;DR: The Fairphone3+ works well with T-Mobile in the United States. It connects smoothly and performs just like you’d expect any other Android phone to work.
I was in the market to replace my old iPhone, and decided to give the Fairphone a go. I definitely have a sense of “well is there an ethical smartphone under capitalism?” nihilism. However, I’m trying my best to hold that in duality and try better. Or as Tatiana Mac writes:
I think that we have to both accept that we can only do so much and that we can also always do more.
Fairphone only sells in the EU, so I was worried the phone wouldn’t connect at all. According to the tech specs, the phone should support most of the bands my old iPhone did:
Here, you can see that for TMobile, 4G LTE is fairly well supported:
and it’s roughly equivalent to my iPhone SE band support for TMobile
There’s no 5g (which the mmWave stuff is pretty useless IMO compared to the drawbacks), and in the 4g band, it’s missing the B12 band. B12 is at 700 Mhz frequency, which is on the low side. As a reminder from physics, the higher the frequency, the more bandwith is available. However, higher bandwidths are more easily blocked by things like walls, so it’s a tradeoff. Going back to what I said about 5g mmWave, it’s at the ~37Ghz range. So for that frequency you can transmit a lot of data, but even your body will block the signal. (Also it uses a lot more power).
So anyways, the one band the Fairphone doesn’t carry is mostly used to try to get crappy LTE connection inside of a building. I’m not too worried, so long as it actually works…
- The battery life is amazing. I no longer have to plug in my phone every chance I get, and especially at night in order to charge the phone up. Also, once plugs in, it recharges rather quickly
- Repairability is exactly as promised. I was able to fully disassemble the phone extremely easily. The battery is removable, and there’s an SD card slot.
- The fingerprint sensor is a bit finicky, especially compared to the iPhone SE. I often have to reposition my finger for it to be recognized
- The camera photos are … not great. They’re over-saturated and in general not very pleasant. I need to see if using a different camera app will help, but it’s definitely the biggest weakness of the phone
- The sound only comes out of the left port, so you’ll definitely want headphones (but there’s a headphone jack!)
Although the Fairphone comes with Android pre-installed, it _does_ have an unlocked bootloader. There’s good support for other OS, and I’ve been using /e/ as my OS. How do you pronounce it? idk. slashy-slash is what I’m going with. Anyways, the idea is to strip away all of the Google bits of Android. It uses ASOP (the neglected underlying open source part of Android), and MicroG to emulate the Google API’s that apps need. TL;DR: You can still install most Android apps, but it’s not tied to Google. It’s definitely an enthusiast OS, and I’ll write up more about my experiences in a separate post.
It works! Texts, calls, LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth all work smoothly for the Fairphone. The actual device is well-put together, however the components definitely aren’t top-of-line. Even with the upgraded camera, it’s not the best for phone photography.
Solid tinkering phone, would recommend.