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Fairphone 5: Preserving it 10/10?

Fairphone 5: Preserving it 10/10?

2023-12-07 05:04:26

After I began taking aside the Fairphone 5, I didn’t actually anticipate any surprises. 

Having dis- and reassembled the previous model a number of occasions, I had some expertise with Fairphone’s method to constructing a smartphone: Modularity paired with quick access to all main elements. 

It’s a successful system for a repairable smartphone they’ve iterated on a number of occasions now. So, what’s really completely different this time round—aside from a brand new and glossy OLED display screen and beefed up cameras?

Opening Up

The preliminary opening process remains to be the identical: Simply unclip the plastic again cowl and also you’re good to begin your restore. 

The outer form of the again cowl is modified from the Fairphone 4 although, which, along with an elevated thickness of nano coating, results in a barely improved IP55 score. So whereas the Fairphone 5 has the identical mud resistance as its predecessor, it’s now capable of survive water jets as a substitute of simply splashes. 

This time round, the battery takes up noticeably more room than earlier than and it reveals within the capability: 4200 mAh as a substitute of 3905 mAh. It’s the centerpiece sandwiched in between the highest and backside modules.

Minor, However Considerate Enhancements

Going deeper, there are some high quality of life enhancements for fixers which can be very a lot appreciated. 

The connector cowl of the highest module is now related to the module as a substitute of being separate, so the small plastic piece can’t get misplaced through the restore.

A photo showing how the connector cover of the Fairphone 5's top module is connected to the module itself.

Under the highest module, the individually replaceable cameras are immediately accessible, so it’s not vital to exchange the entire digital camera module if certainly one of them breaks prefer it was the case with the predecessor. The Time of Flight sensor, in the meantime, stays immediately built-in with the highest module.

On the underside of the cellphone, USB-C port replacements have turn out to be a bit extra easy. No extra prodding utilizing a small cutout, now a small metallic lid on the left facet enables you to elevate it out comfortably.

The Core Change

The foremost inside change, nevertheless, turns into seen as quickly as all these floor stage elements are eliminated. 

As a substitute of a Fairphone 4 type Core Module that snakes across the casing much like the logic boards of current iPhones or Google Pixel telephones, we’re greeted with a view that’s far more widespread in Android telephones: a cut up between a motherboard and daughterboard.

We’ve requested Fairphone about this alteration and so they said that it was essential to create more room for the larger battery.

A view of the front and back of the Fairphone 5 after substantial disassembly.

The change explains the warning stickers that, at first look, really feel misplaced in a Fairphone. Beforehand, securing the Core Module with a Torx screw sufficed with a purpose to steer homeowners in the direction of the proper path of restore. The brand new structure creates an entire array of further areas for by accident disconnecting one thing you actually shouldn’t.

Detailed view of the antenna cable connector and cables.
Lettering on the board signifies whether or not the antenna cables are related to the suitable connector.

The stickers create a cease signal to consider disconnecting the antenna cables or the interconnect cable between the motherboard and daughterboard, as a result of each have the potential to interrupt performance.

However even should you resolve to disconnect the antenna cables, the connectors are clearly marked to ensure you will reconnect the cables accurately afterwards.

That’s what intuitive restore design is all about: it needs to be simple to do the suitable factor and complex to do the flawed factor.

Past Snapdragon

It’s not solely on the {hardware} facet the place you see Fairphone’s dedication to sturdiness. 

Whereas the Fairphone 5 comes with a promise of 5 Android model upgrades and no less than 8 years of safety updates, 10 years is their said objective. Which means that Fairphone may really make the decade-lasting phone a actuality.

See Also

The SoC that powers this promise is from Qualcomm, however it’s intentionally not a Snapdragon processor. As a substitute, Fairphone opted for the QCM6490 SoC, a chip that’s, as Qualcomm places it, “purpose-built for industrial and commercial IoT applications“.

It’s the quickest industrial chip Qualcomm makes, however actually not probably the most cutting-edge know-how the chipmaker has to supply. Nonetheless, resulting from its industrial target market, QCM6490 comes with a longer lifetime support than Qualcomm’s client merchandise.

Contemplating initial benchmarking tests, time will inform whether or not the chip will nonetheless be capable of deal with Android and its apps a couple of years from now. Proper now, it’s aggressive with mid-range telephones, however not high-end ones.

Preserving it 10/10

Total, the Fairphone 5 retains the points that have been nice about earlier fashions and provides some effectively thought out enhancements to the restore expertise, like individually replaceable cameras. It incorporates a modular design with quick access to important components and simply accessible, fairly priced alternative components. Moreover, Fairphone gives the mandatory restore info.

The brand new structure of motherboard and daughterboard could also be extra ‘standard’ than beforehand, however that doesn’t imply that the cellphone’s general repairability suffers. Even within the case of the Fairphone 4, the Core Module was not out there on the market “due to the legal and logistical constraints regarding the administration of the IMEI numbers”.

What’s a bit extra disappointing is that changing the fingerprint sensor stays very tough with no alternative half being offered, however it from a standpoint of anticipated element failure charges and IP score, it appears like an affordable compromise.

The primary repairability characteristic of the Fairphone 5 lies in its software program longevity. Even should you can repair your cellphone six years after you obtain it, it usually simply doesn’t make a lot sense as a result of it could imply operating an outdated, insecure model of Android. 

Huge gamers like Samsung and Google have improved their replace coverage in recent times and now provide safety updates for as much as five and even seven years for his or her newest high-end fashions. Nonetheless, these market leaders preserve lagging behind Fairphone. They already proved that they’re able to fulfilling seven years of safety updates with the Fairphone 2.

All of which means that the Fairphone 5 is a ten out of 10 in our books, hopefully for the following 10 years.

Graphic depicting 10 out of 10 on iFixit's Repairability Scale.

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