Why I bought a Fairphone 3+ in September 2023

My previous phone died (not a fairphone, and at 6 years old it was a good run, although I only had it for the last two of those). Fairphone 5 has just been released but I bought a Fairphone 3+ on eBay. Why, especially when I could have got a used FP4 for not much more?

This is a combined motivation and review as some of these (particularly experiences of the camera) I was only able to judge once I had the phone.

It has an earphone jack socket, and all the earphones I own (3 pairs) use that, not USB or bluetooth. I really don’t understand why that was removed for the FP4 and FP5, my previous phone was IP68 rated and had one. I understand waterproofing an openable phone is more of a challenge, but the jack plug isn’t the problem!

It has a notification LED. This is the biggest one for me and the deficit of the FP4 and FP5 I couldn’t get past. They seem to be disappearing generally, which is a shame. I regularly have my phone on silent and the notification LED is how I see it a glance that there is a message, and not only that but from across the room I can see which app it came through on (and therefore how important it is). Always on display/oled doesn’t fill the gap.

It is a small upgrade technically on my previous phone (a 2017 model) but it feels faster. The camera is technically an upgade on paper but it takes far worse photos. Its good enough, I have a proper camera for photography. It actually takes better videos, although they have some funny motion effects (floor sometimes looks like it is liquid). I wonder why the videos look so mich better when the photos are worse. The difference an extra gig of ram makes? The selfie cam on the fp3+ is much better despite being similar in spec to my old phone.

Security/software updates:
With the aim of software updates until sometime in 2026 it is going to be supported longer than some new phones I could buy now from other brands. I tried stock but have quickly switched to LineageOS as its what I am used to, and I feel reasonably confident Lineage will support it for a while to come.

Neither the stock rom nor Lineage work correctly with VoLTE on my network, calls are fine but the caller I’d displays “Unknown”. I am 99% sure this is purely a software issue and in Fairphone’s hands but their page on VoLTE suggests the network is somehow at fault.

I have kept a close eye on postmarketos for a while and the FP3 chipset seems to be doing quite well in terms of mainline kernel support, which is very exciting.

I’d still prefer a smaller phone, but I can juuust about manage to type on the FP3 one-handed. Ideal width for my hands (which are actually quite large) is a little narrower but not too much, and my last phone was actually slightly wider, which I found uncomfortable. I don’t mind the height, it feels a bit tall but excess width is worse. There is demand for smaller phones (see the small android phone project by the founder of Pebble), if Fairphone is going to release a model every two years they should consider making every second release a smaller one.

I have a tendency to drop phones, and the death of 2 previous phones was my butchered attempt to replace a screen. I actually bought this one with a faulty screen knowing even I could replace it. Sadly it still only half works (if I put any of the screws back, or even hold it wrong, in it goes noisy, slow, or cuts out completely). I am getting by because I know where to press and pull to being it back to life

On paper this phone looked good to me. I almost bought one before my last phone. I haven’t been disappointed, it feels nice in the hand and is just about usable one handedly for short periods of time.

I think Fairphone made some mistakes with the FP4 and FP5 (not to say they didn’t make a lot of improvements too) but the long support means I don’t feel pressured to have the latest model.

Without screws the risk of dropping the phone is too high. I will probably have to try a third screen or buy another phone, but it will almost certainly be a FP3+.


I definitely can understand that rationale. I’m myself owning an FP3 (with swapped camera models), and love it. I’m using LOS from the beginning (starting with the unofficial versions, and can only recommend that path. For me, VoLTE and VoWIFI work flawlessly and with astonishing quality)
Though I’m considering switching to FP5, for a few resource hungry things I’m doing, and i hope the 5 will live the ten years (at least) that are projected.


Thanks for sharing your rationale! It’s great if it still works for you and that’s certainly in the spirit of Fairphone.

(I updated your title to better reflect the content people can expect here. Feel free to change it back if that was not what you’re looking for.)


Maybe you already know it, but, if not, I recommend you to take a look at this thread: many FP3 users use a port of the Google Pixel camera on a daily basis and we are very happy with its performance (much better, in many people’s opinion, than the default camera :slight_smile: .


Thank you. I have seen that thread, I found it really interesting to see the comparisons. I don’t feel comfortable having the Google Camera port installed, but it is nice to know what potential the camera/phone has.

I’ve found that with some fiddling of settings in OpenCamera I can get pictures I am happy enough with.


About the audio jack socket… while I understand and respect the reasoning if you have “legacy” earphones, I must say, with the advent of USB-C they are obselet. If you don’t want to go bluetooh, where there are reasonable reasons not to, a builtin DAC for a cable based earphone on the USB-C socket costs practically nothing anymore. The only rare reason I see, is that you can’t charge it and use it as audio socket the same time.


I’ve seen that said before but I think usb-c earphones are a recipe for e-waste. The usb-c port on my old phone needed replacing twice, and would have needed another replacement soon if other things hadn’t failed first. I’ve had so many usb-c charger cables fall apart at the connector and my earphones are put under a lot more challenging circumstances than my chargers, I have only ever had one pair of earphones fail where the cable and jack plug met, and unlike with usb-c the wiring of those earphones is so simple I just cut it short and added a new plug. I’ve never had the actual socket break with that sort of connection. The only time I had a problem it turned out a toothpick did the trick to remove some fluff.

There is also the compatibility question: I’ve seen a lot of discussion here and on headphone forums about compatibility issues with usb-c earphones and adapters, something I never had to worry about with with a good old jack plug.

Then the most personal aspect: I have 3 pairs of earphones which I use with multiple devices. Of those devices, only the phone supports usb-c and Bluetooth (well, I guess also the laptop would). I have no intention to replace my main portable media player, and I like having the option to mix and match earphones. An adapter is another thing to lose and break (more ewaste) as I wouldn’t have it connected to the earphones permenantly.


That’s a very strange / interesting phenomenon. Because USB-C has been explicitly designed to take the stress of the port (and put what has to be on the cable, so cable failing is much more to be expected). So not only once (which should no longer happen) but twice is … awkward. This was an issue with Micro-USB where stress went onto the port and thus failing. Like I said I respect your decissions because of devices you already own, but generally I also very much understand manufacturers leaving them away.

1 Like

I bought a Fairphone 3+ on eBay. Why, especially when I could have got a used FP4 for not much more?

Me too! Your post applies almost 100% to me. (I don’t use the headphone jack a lot all these days. But notification LED, size, repairability, LineageOS support… this is just what motivated me as well!)


Please be aware, it is already running an end of life Linux 4.9 kernel:

Meaning it isn’t secure today let alone in 2026.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 180 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.