After a decade-long wait, Fairphone is finally selling one of its user-repairable products in the United States. But the details are a little bit strange—the Murena Fairphone 4 uses a non-standard operating system, it only works well on T-Mobile’s network, and it’s expensive.
The Fairphone 4 originally debuted on the European market in 2021. It isn’t the most powerful or flashy smartphone, but it’s incredibly sustainable and repairable. Most of its components, including its cameras, battery, and display, can be removed and replaced with very little effort. Fairphone sells spare parts on its website, of course.
In recent years, Fairphone has gained a lot of attention from people who live outside of Europe. The gang at iFixit performed a detailed teardown of the Fairphone 4, stamping it with an excellent 10/10 repairability score. And the Fairphone 2 enjoyed oodles of coverage thanks to its seven-year lifespan.
But customers in the United States are getting something kinda weird. Fairphone isn’t rebuilding the Fairphone 4 for North America. Instead, it’s selling a variant of this device through Murena, a privacy-focused (and essentially anti-Google) smartphone and cloud services brand.
The Murena Fairphone 4 runs /e/OS, a custom version of Android that omits Google’s apps and services. This operating system won’t feel too unfamiliar, but it contains a lot of Murena-branded apps for email, cloud storage, and other services that would normally be fulfilled by Google. Some people will love the “de-Googled” experience, but others won’t.
And although the Murena Fairphone 4 is unlocked, T-Mobile is the only recommended carrier. If you’ve ever imported a European phone to the United States, this limitation won’t come as much of a surprise. But it’s still a big limitation.
But the price is probably the biggest problem. If you want the Murena Fairphone 4, you need to cough up at least $630. And that’s for a two-year-old phone with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a slightly-outdated Snapdragon 750G 5G chipset, and an LCD display.
This isn’t the most impressive smartphone. Sure, it’s got some good features—an IP54 rating, Gorilla Glass 5 protection, a microSD slot, a five-year warranty and of course, user-repairability. But it’s hard to justify the price, especially when you can buy a more powerful used smartphone for just a few hundred dollars.
If you believe in Fairphone’s mission, or you just love to tinker with stuff, maybe the Murena Fairphone 4 is worth buying. I do suggest looking at used and refurbished phones first, though. (In any case, keep an eye on Fairphone’s new user-repairable headphones, which I would love to see in the United States.)
Source: Murena via The Verge