Fairphone 4 FAQ

The Fairphone 4 5G is our latest model, launched on September 30, 2021.

It is the next step in our mission to pioneer more sustainable ways to make smartphones.

The Fairphone 4 5G has :

In addition to that, Fairphone 4 is the first-ever electronic waste neutral handset. Via our Reuse & Recycle program, we will offset the impact of your new Fairphone 4 by taking back at least one other phone, and we will then either give it a second life or recycle it responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why launch the Fairphone 4 when you launched the Fairphone 3+ last year? How does this align with your promise of longevity?

Fairphone is trying to change the industry from the inside out. Our mission is to establish a viable market for sustainable consumer electronics. Part of this is to recognize the demands and to change technology on the market. Our new device, the Fairphone 4 5G, enables us to take the following steps in circularity, fairness, and longevity. It is a device that is (technologically) relevant for years to come for customers who need a new phone. Also, as a company, we want to appeal to new customers to reach a wider audience while continuing our long-term support for Fairphone 3, Fairphone 3+, and Fairphone 2 simply because the most sustainable phone is the phone you already own!

Q: Do the accessories for Fairphone 4 also fit with the Fairphone 3(+)?

Not all. The Fairphone 4 has different dimensions, so accessories like the Fairphone 4 Protective Soft Case and the Fairphone 4 Screen Protectors will not fit Fairphone 3 or Fairphone 2.

However, the Fairphone True Wireless Stereo Earbuds are compatible with all our Fairphone models. The product page of each item will list the compatibility.

Q: Do the spare parts for Fairphone 4 also fit with the Fairphone 3(+)?

No. The Fairphone 4 has a different modular architecture and a different chipset, so the Fairphone 4 Spare Parts are not interchangeable with Fairphone 3 or Fairphone 2 modules.

Q: Is the Fairphone 4 core module for sale?

The Fairphone 4 core module is not available for sale due to the legal and logistical constraints regarding the administration of the IMEI numbers.

If you have a broken core module, please let our Customer Support team know. We will arrange to send your device to our Service center to replace the core module safely and responsibly.

Q: Does it have 5G?


Q: Why did Fairphone choose to launch a 5G smartphone? There are critical public debates about the unknown long-term implications of 5G for people and the planet.

Our older phones, such as the Fairphone 3+, do not have 5G because we didn't upgrade their antenna or chipset. However, for future phones, we investigated the possibilities. Since we think it's an innovation that will stand the test of time, we decided to produce a 5G device for Fairphone 4. We wanted to future-proof our phone so people can keep their devices for longer, and the way to ensure that is to offer a 5G device, with eSIM. We also want to keep up with industry tech trends to be an example of sustainability. Ensuring we have up-to-date technology is a big part of that, as we want to enable our customers to have a technologically advanced and sustainable device to use for years to come.

Q: What do I do with my old device?

You can give them a new life via our Reuse & Recycle program!

Q: What do I do with my old modules?

You can give them a new life! Recycle them locally - check your municipality's website for their programs on e-waste and chemicals (Battery).

Q: I want open-source software on my Fairphone 4. Is this possible?


Q: When can I upgrade my Fairphone 4 to Android 12?

We currently sell Fairphone 4 with Android 11 pre-installed, but it's now upgradable to Android 12 starting February 2023. Depending on your network provider, some customers may receive the upgrade sooner than others.

Q: Why didn't you launch with A12?

Android 12 came out in July 2021. We would love to have launched Fairphone 4 with the latest Android version. However, it takes months of work from our team to develop software for a smartphone. We didn't have access to the Android 12 code early enough to base our software on Android 12 at launch. However, we upgraded the Fairphone 4 to Android 12 in 2023. Fairphone guarantees Android 12 and 13 for Fairphone 4 users.

We also aim to provide upgrades for Android 14 and 15. However, since Qualcomm will not offer support in the development, we cannot guarantee them.

Q: What does PCR plastic mean? Why didn't you use ocean plastic?

PCR stands for post-consumer recycled materials. Even though it is difficult to formulate the correct raw material that meets both cosmetics and performance requirements, Fairphone was the first company to take on this challenge, when there were no other brands in the consumer electronics industry attempting to implement this material in their products. Now, we are happy to see other manufacturers have joined us in using PCR plastics in their products.

We have tested ocean plastic, but we could not source any suppliers to provide the raw material that met our requirements.

Q: Why are your smartphones manufactured in China? Are there plans to establish production in Europe, why?

We do not have plans to establish production in Europe at this time. Our mission is to encourage a fairer electronics supply chain across the globe. That means that we recognize that China plays an essential role in the supply chain and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We also don't shy away from the problem. We want to work with China to create systemic change from within, as we already do with the minerals industry in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Another point to consider is that even if we moved production from China to Taiwan or another part of southeast Asia, most components would still come from China. Therefore we would not make more impact, and it would only result in a higher carbon footprint.

Our ultimate goal is to improve working conditions throughout the supply chain, which we continue to work towards every day and is challenging due to the complexity of the supply chain.

Q: Why does the Fairphone 4 have so many spare parts and no more Top Module, for example?

We examined our modularity to make it more sustainable. Our previous models Fairphone 2 and Fairphone 3, had modules containing several components that would fail more than others.

For example, we had to replace the top module when either the top speaker or the front camera failed.

With Fairphone 4, we can replace only those individual components. This approach helps reduce electronic waste and reduces the amount of plastic used because we don't need module housing.

Q: Why does the Fairphone 4 Rear Cameras spare part have so many connectors?

The Fairphone 4 Rear Cameras spare part has three connectors, although we wanted less since connectors use a lot of gold and copper. To have high-quality cameras, we needed many connection points. If we used a single larger connector, it would be more costly and mean we'd have to reduce the battery size to make it fit. To avoid reducing the battery, we chose to implement multiple small connectors.

Q: So, how easy is it to open, and should you still do it?

It is still straightforward to open the Fairphone 4. All you need is a Phillips #00 screwdriver. But even though the Fairphone 4 is modular, please don't open it too often. As with most products, you could damage the parts if you open your phone too frequently and risk losing the screws. You should only open it if something breaks and you need to repair it or troubleshoot it.

Q: What is the SAR rating of the Fairphone 4?

Specific Absorption Rate measures how much radio frequency (RF) energy is absorbed by your body when using an electronic device like a mobile phone. For the Fairphone 4, the SAR rating is as follows:

Max SAR head (W/kg (10g)) = 0.494 W/Kg

Max SAR body (W/kg (10g)) = 0.993 W/Kg

Max SAR limb (W/kg (10g)) = 2.916W/Kg

SAR is calculated for two areas: the head and the rest of the body. During testing, the phone's radio is set to its highest transmission level for each frequency.

The phone is placed directly next to the head to simulate actual calling behavior for the head rating.

For the body rating, the phone is positioned 0.5 cm away from the body.

The SAR of the Fairphone 4 is relatively low. To minimize it even more, you can keep it farther from your body by using a hands-free headset.

Q: Which materials in the Fairphone 4 are considered fair?

The Fairphone 4 contains: Recycled Tin, Recycled Rare Earth, Fair Tungsten, Fair Cobalt, Fairtrade Gold, Aluminium from ASI certified sources, Recycled Plastics, and Recycled copper. We are working towards integrating responsible Lithium and increasing the percentage of recycled Zinc, Magnesium, and Nickel content.

Fairphone uses tin from a 100% recycled tin source for the solder, and we are also working on a fair tin program.

The tungsten in Fairphone 4 vibration's mechanism comes from the conflict-free, semi-industrial Rwanda mine we have been working with for a few years.

We are now assessing the mine site's positive impact as a baseline for continuous improvement with an on-site program to move from conflict-free to fair tungsten.

We're currently sourcing Fairtrade gold from mines in Peru, integrated using a mass balance system into our supply chain. The manufacturer mixes the Fairtrade gold we purchase with gold coming from other sources. We've integrated Fairtrade gold in the connector supply chain (new for Fairphone 4) after re-insuring Fairtrade gold in the speaker, motor, and PCB supply chain as we've achieved in earlier models.

In parallel, we're working on projects in Eastern Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) with various partners to (continuously) improve the conditions of artisanal and small-scale mines towards best practices standards such as Fairtrade.

Fairphone is a founding member of the Fair Cobalt Alliance and, since the beginning of 2020, has integrated Fair Cobalt into our supply chain. This cobalt is coming from two ASM mining sites in the DRC, Kasulu, and Kamilombe. These sites are part of a project started by the founding members of the FCA, Fairphone, Signify, Huayou Cobalt, and The Impact Facility. Other supporters are the RVO, joined by Glencore, Shift, The Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI), Sono Motors, Miller Center, CARF, CMOC, IXM, Volvo, Giga Storage, TDI Sustainability, and Lifesaver. The project includes a continuous mining site improvement plan, which ensures the increasing performance of the ASM sites on social and environmental aspects such as the incomes and health and safety of the miners. To address these challenges holistically, we also include programs oriented at the surrounding communities, focusing on children's school enrollment, vocational training for youth, and financial literacy training for adults.

In the first half of 2019, we began mapping our supply chain related to rare earth minerals and looking at the risks and opportunities in each region (such as environmental pollution, impact on local communities, etc.). We evaluated our neodymium NdFed magnet supply chain and agreed with our suppliers to use 100% recycled rare earth in our speakers and 90% in our vibration motor.

Lithium is one of our focus fair materials used in our batteries. The broader industry expects the demand and use of Lithium to grow exponentially in years to come. The first step of our journey was research: we assessed critical risks and opportunities for improvements in the Lithium supply chain to see where change could occur. We are pushing for our supply chain to source IRMA-certified Lithium. IRMA offers verification and certification for mined materials, scoring mining sites on social and environmental performance.

Furthermore, we are part of the Responsible Lithium Partnership. The partnership aims to work towards responsible natural resource management, including Lithium, in Chile's Salar de Atacama. The partnership intends to foster a dialogue among local stakeholders, generating and synthesizing scientific facts and seeking solutions together.

If after reading the article you need more help, contact our Customer Support.