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A never-ending repair story (USB connector FP1)

connector
usb
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f9ff853f990> #<Tag:0x00007f9ff853f760>

#1

Hey everybody, those who know me or have read my posts know that I almost always defend Fairphone because I love their mission and love being involved in the movement.

However, at the moment I’m a bit lost at what to think. Two weeks ago I took my FP1 First Edition to Handywerk.at (List of repair shops) because the USB connector was beginning to get loose. They said that I can get it back the following day, but I did not go go pick it up until the second day. When I got there they said that they were trying to contact me because they ran into troubles with soldering a new USB connector into my FP1.

The guy at the repair shop told me that when he opened up my Fairphone the USB connector jumped out of the phone towards him. Apparently it had been already worn out badly. He then said that they couldn’t fix it as quickly as they intended to because the whole USB connector was broken out from the motherboard. Thus they weren’t able to attach a new generic USB connector, but would have to use the old connector and try to fix the soldering joints.

He showed me the motherboard and explained to me that it looked as if the factory workers had tinkered with the board. He said that probably they also had had problems soldering the USB connector to the motherboard because the space on there is actually too small to do it properly. To me it seemed as if they had used glue on the motherboard… Nevertheless they did their best and I then picked up my FP1 after the weekend.

At first everything seemed to work ok, but soon after, when I had arrived home and tried to plug in my phone to a wall charger, the FP1 had connection problems again and stopped charging when I moved the USB cable to a certain direction. So the situation now is that I have a damaged USB connector that can probably not be fixed (The guy at handy-werk.at said that no FP1-user has had to make use of the 1-year-warranty yet, meaning that all other FP1 USB connectors could be fixed).

I see these options now:

  • Take the FP1 to the repair shop again and hope for the best or
  • take part in Fairphone’s buy-back program.

Buying a motherboard as a spare part is not possible because they are out of stock and I guess they will never be produced again.

I’m quite disillusioned now (after hoping to use my FP1 for 4 years) and don’t really know what to do. Somehow I would like to blame someone for this mess. No other phone I have had had had problems with the USB connector. Does anyone have any advice for me?


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#2

I’m really sorry to hear that. I guess I would take part in the take-back program, if you can afford a FP2. It’s really much better then the FP1 and opens up new possibilities…

The only other thing I can think of is living without the USB port. With an external universal charger and a second battery it wouldn’t be too unconfortable… Data transfers could be done via WiFi or Bluetooth…


#3

Sorry to hear your experience is souring Stefan :frowning:

I don’t know when you purchased your FP1, but if it is under 2 years old it is still in warranty and therefore something you should pickup with FP support.

If it’s over 2 years old, you may still be able to have this repaired under warranty. The EU directive stipulates that a minimum of 2 year free guarantee is offered for purchases and also provides that products should be “free from manufacturing defects” and “as advertised”. I would suggest that if there has been a manufacturing fault as you’ve described (using glue and not solder) then this is a defect that warrants further investigation from FP and a replacement of the faulty motherboard.

In the UK we also have additional protection over and above the EU directive (Sale of Goods Act) which says that products should be “fit for purpose” and of “satisfactory quality”.

I’m sure the Fairphone team will be able to sort something, I’m assuming they will be getting further stock for repairs…


#4

I lived some time with my former Nexus 4 with broken USB data pins. Wireless ADB (adb backup and adb pull) and FTP (with FTP server) for transfers solved the most of the troubles for me. You can still flash fastboot images with the help of some proprietary app, if something goes wrong. I recommend you to get a pretty good recovery; TWRP has an awesome File Manager.

The charging problem you can solve it with an external charger, as @Irina_Spitznagel pointed above.

Good luck! You know you can contact me for anything else.


#5

Thank you all for your suggestions so far (I also received two kind PMs)! An external charger is no alternative for me because I don’t want to generate additional e-waste.

I will contact Fairphone support because @Chris_R’s comment gave me new hope that it may be a warranty case after all:


#6

Is picking up someone else’s an option? That one would have already been made, and therefore generates no new waste*. People end up with extra chargers sitting around. You might try freecycle, a used/refurbished electronics store, or even nearby people on this forum, to find one that needs a new home.

*Unless you ship it, drive to pick it up, etc, but that’s a different life cycle analysis.


#7

Sorry to read about your bad experience with your mobile.
Taking care (replacing) of broken parts on smd electronic boards is no easy job, even for experienced specialists having a very calm and precise acting motor function.
As you was told a new generic usb connector did not fit the place where it should, hence to this it was generic not FP specific. Probably they have no original FP1 usb connector at hand. Using the old one may work if it´s not completely broken, but of course when the main pcb (motherboard) is broken there you seem to be out of options. With this knowledge that it may have been not properly mounted at production you may get back to FP and try to agree on a discount on a new FP2. Hopefully you succeed.
Besides this, considering there was glue used on it…yes probably there was. This is a standard procedure for (double-sided) surface mounted electronic boards. To prevent loosing/moving parts while the pcb passes through the reflow-oven (the second time) the (down-side facing) parts are fixed with a special glue. But also if you want to assure a higher force resistance as there are often no options like fixing pins available on smd parts. All connectors are usually exposed to manual un-plug actions requiring extra fixation therefore.


#8

I wonder how this is handled with the FP2. Presumably they tried to avoid glue there.


#9

I´m not sure, I only opened it once to replace the camera and did not see much of the pcb. Anyway the display seems to be the thickest component besides the frame of course. But due to it´s design I assume they tried to get everything placed on one pcb layer. It´s possible when being well designed. Furthermore it´s very common to use flexible circuit boards, often to connect components with each other which may be located on the (flatt) back of the main board fixed with screws somewhere. In some cases parts may have specific solder pads which take over the part of fixation (and heat issues) instead of using glue. But these pads need more space on the board. Actually I did not hear anything so far of users with connection troubles on FP2. I´m out for using a magnetic charging cable solution to hopefully prevent such issues.


#10

I have news on the matter!

Yesterday I went to pick up my phone, after last week the issue was not solved after the second attempt and they said they will try it a third time. (I tried to pick up the phone on Friday, but they were in the middle of a flee market and didn’t have my FP at the shop, when I came there…)

Long story short, the USB connector is not loose anymore (at least for now)! :smiley: They told me that they could sand the junctions of the USB connector on the motherboard and were then able to solder in a new generic Samsung USB connector.

I’m confident again that my phone will work until January 2018. :slight_smile:


#11

That’s good news. Fingers crossed for you


#12

But to be honest: Since I’ve a work phone where most of the time the calls are in HD voice I don’t like anymore to call with my FP1. The quality is too bad… A pity they deactivated hd voice on the modem firmware because of troubles with T-Mobile…


#13

According to your other post it was T-Mobile. That’s kind of ironic, in my opinion. :wink:

Anyway, calling still works fine for me, just in loud environments it’s sometimes too low (I’m with A1 (Vodafone in Austria).


#14

Thanks, edited…

Dosc


#15

Maybe they wanted to make up for it by selling the FP2 in shops here in Austria… :grin:


#16

Oh, That sounds good. Good luck for you with it. Maybe also consider purchasing a magnetic charging cable. There are several also slim but practical types out there and most of them at reasonable price imo.


#17

Can you recommend one? I have found these in a quick search: http://www.magneticchargingcable.com/

I doubt however, that I’d be able to plug in my headphones when the adapter is in the USB port. USB and headphones connectors are quite close, as you can see in the following iFixit picture:


#18

Oh, erm - well yes. I did not know the mechanical design of FP1. I think in this case it is not so easy finding one which will be slim enough. I backed some at kickstarter and indigogo (Mµconnect & ZNAPS) not having my hands on them yet. Also I found this at a electronic dealer named “Reichelt”


Most probably Conrad also offers similar accessories. You could take a glance into the datasheet for the dimensions hopefully finding one that matches with your phone…well the alignment really is very unluky…


#19

I just figured out that the repair shop failed to connect the data pins of the new USB connector… So when I connect it to my computer now, it is not detected. For adb I used this guide to enable Wireless ADB (in conjunction with adbWireless from F-Droid). If I want to transfer files, I will have to make use of this solution:


:de: USB Anschluss Reparatur in Berlin
Charging problems / tilted position in order to charge
#20

Amaze File Manager includes a FTP server now, you don’t need another app for that, :wink:

Should you have any doubt about how to do something, contact me: I lived quite a long time with a Nexus 4 with the same problem (non-working data pins), working as an Android developer myself, :joy: