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Fairphone 6 wishlist: All the features I want to see

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Fairphone 6 wishlist: All the features I want to see

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The Fairphone 5 represented a major step forward for the sustainable phone company. While it improved upon many of its predecessor’s shortcomings, it was far from perfect. Not only were there battery life and heat dissipation concerns, but there were also a few other areas where it fell short as an Android phone. Although its successor is still a long way off, here’s my wishlist for what I’d like to see in the Fairphone 6.

Better thermals are a must

Fairphone 5 23

Damien Wilde / Android Authority

The Fairphone 5 performs fairly well when it comes to basic tasks, but even then, you’re likely to encounter overheating issues that can really spoil what would otherwise be a decent mid-range experience. Our own Rita El Khoury previously noted in her review that the phone would often overheat, and not just from extended sessions. Even just thirty minutes of use was enough to make the phone noticeably warm, and longer sessions could become uncomfortable quickly. It’s not just the processor that causes these thermal overloads, either. Just five minutes of camera use in our test model was enough to make the module very warm, even in relatively cool weather.

It’s pretty obvious this won’t fly again. I realize that developing a modern phone that the average Joe can take apart comes with big challenges when it comes to building decent thermal solutions. The modular design leaves less room for one. It’s also just a challenge to build a case with proper airflow that is still easy to open right up. A large part of the problem was the Qualcomm QCM6490 chip found inside the phone, which we’ll get to a bit later on this wishlist. Nonetheless, it’s crucial for Fairphone to address this issue in the Fairphone 6. Even a slight increase in the phone’s case size could help, as it would provide extra room for ventilation.

Let’s resolve the battery life next time, shall we?

Fairphone 5 19

Damien Wilde / Android Authority

Battery drain is a major issue with the Fairphone 5. While its 4,200mAh capacity is typically big enough for a phone with mid-range specs, that’s not the case here. In our testing, we found that the Fairphone 5 could rarely make it through a full day’s use without a top-off. Even after we stopped using it, it sat on the review desk for a while, and we noticed it would only take about two days to drain even when idle, a process that takes most other phones closer to a week.

Fairphone has promised it is working on software optimizations that should hopefully improve battery life on the current generation, but looking ahead, the Fairphone 6 should jump up to a 5,000mAh battery, similar to what you’d find in another mid-ranger, like the Galaxy A54 5G. I suspect that many of us interested in phones with minimal impact on the environment are also likely to go off the grid from time to time. Having a bigger battery seems like a natural fit for this series.

Of course, just moving on to a more power-efficient processor will likely help the battery life jump up dramatically. But the one-two punch from upsizing the battery would likely make this a phone that could easily last into the two-day mark if Fairphone plays their cards right. At the very least, it wouldn’t die before one day is up!

A more powerful, optimized processor, please

fairphone 5 deconstructed lower upper module

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Qualcomm QCM6490 is a curious choice for a processor, as it’s not primarily built with phones in mind and is instead billed as an IoT chip. However, there is a method to the madness here. Fairphone opted for this processor because it knew it had long-term support on its side, allowing it to confidently promise eight years of security updates. Unfortunately, it’s very likely the chip is the reason for both battery drain and overheating issues, as it simply wasn’t optimized for this role.

Fairphone attempted to think outside the box here, but I’d argue it’s not a move worth repeating. While Google and Samsung both offer update policies of seven years of OS and security updates for their flagship phones, Qualcomm will likely continue to improve its support for mobile chips. Although this improved support may currently only apply to higher-end SoCs, Samsung’s support trends typically extend downward over time, suggesting that many of Samsung’s future budget devices could also offer better support. By that logic, Fairphone would take fewer risks next time around by sticking to a more tried-and-true mid-range chip. After all, the Fairphone 6 won’t likely surface until 2025, so it still has a little time before it has to lock down a chip ahead of production.

A wireless charging option would be a nice extra

Okay, not everyone cares about wireless charging, myself included. I have a wireless charger, but I often end up just plugging in the USB-C cable as it’s faster. Still, the modular nature of the Fairphone series lends itself to a bit more flexibility. I hope the Fairphone 6 adds wireless charging for those who prefer it, even if that means making it an add-on. Perhaps Fairphone could accommodate room in the case design but require you to buy the module separately so you can add it yourself.

A physical 3.5mm jack makes sense for a phone like this

Fairphone 5 5

Damien Wilde / Android Authority

Another smaller thing but the Fairphone 6 is a phone that’s also a natural fit for a 3.5mm headphone jack. Let’s face it, today’s wireless earbuds and headphones have a much bigger environmental impact than old-school wired solutions. There’s a battery, the components needed for Bluetooth, as well as the components for any on-device controls. If the Fairphone is supposed to appeal to those who want to minimize their environmental impact, a headphone jack would be a nice extra. Just like wireless charging, it could even be something that you can add on yourself for an extra cost if the company doesn’t want to offer it by default.

Fairphone 6 wishlist: What would you most like to see?

15 votes

Will there be a Fairphone 6?

Fairphone 5 15

Damien Wilde / Android Authority

It’s way too early for any real Fairphone 6 rumors just yet but it’s pretty likely the phone will exist eventually. Fairphone’s first release was way back in 2013, so it’s a pretty established player at this point. Then again, it is also a very small fish in a big pond.

While I wasn’t able to dig up more recent numbers, it looks like the company sold around 115,681 handsets in 2022. Of course, this was during the Fairphone 4 days, and it was already a year old. That’s pretty puny when you consider a giant like Samsung sold around 259 million units. Even brands smaller than giants like Apple and Samsung manage to do much better than this. For example, the Pixel series sold around 10 million units in 2022.

It’s really hard to gauge how financially stable the company is without knowing more about its staff costs and other assets. The world is also facing a lot of general financial instability at the moment, making it even harder to say for sure. Still, the company seems to be doing well, and it has a dedicated, though small, fanbase. We’d say it’s more than likely there will many more Fairphone devices.

As for when such a phone might arrive? Fairphone’s consistent release schedule actually makes this one pretty easy to pin down.

  • Fairphone 5 — September 14, 2023
  • Fairphone 4 — September 30, 2021
  • Fairphone 3 — September 3, 2019

As you can see, there has been a new Fairphone every two years in September since the Fairphone 3. Before that, release cycles were a bit more random. Unless Fairphone makes a major change to its strategy, I’d say you are likely to see the Fairphone 6 debut in any some point in September of 2025.

Should you wait for the Fairphone 6?

Fairphone 5 20

Damien Wilde / Android Authority

The Fairphone 5 hasn’t even been around six months, so I definitely wouldn’t wait for the next one, but I’m also not sure I’d leap out and buy the current one either. On paper, it’s a great phone but with its reported overheating and battery drain issues, I wouldn’t rush out and get one until the company has time to optimize the software further, which should hopefully help. If you absolutely want a phone built around ethically sourced materials, there’s really no other readily available alternative outside of the Fairphone 4 ($690 at Amazon). While it’s starting to age already, it could at least tide you over until the Fairphone 5 either addresses its issues or the Fairphone 6 arrives.

Fairphone 5Fairphone 5
AA Recommended

Fairphone 5

Modular • Repairable • 8 years of updates

You can take the Fairphone 5 apart with a screwdriver and repair it yourself

The Fairphone 5 is a phone with reparaibility in mind. Nearly every aspect of the phone can be removed and replaced (or even upgraded) with just one screwdriver. To encourage long-term use, Fairphone will offer five Android upgrades, at least eight years of updates, and possibly even extend that to ten years of updates!

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