English

An update from our CEO: Reported software issues and our next steps

To complete the picture (a bit more), I opened the PDF in Adobe Acrobat which allowed me to use an OCR function (marking & copying the text is not possible in these PDFs). Haven’t used word processing in a few years now* (using Libre Office as well, but almost exclusively Calc), so my most recent MS Office dates back to 2011 :angel:

* I’m in love with archaic TextEdit because it won’t distract me with too many elaborate editing functions when I just want to write. And last but not least it launches quickly. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I kind of get where the decision to outsource the software is coming from, with the inhouse software team still trying to support the Fairphone 2, commendably, but this software handling for the Fairphone 3/3+ is not working.

There’s no transparency e.g. with a bugtracker, the intended quarterly update cycle is an intended underachievement, and while Android 10 had to be out there with the release of the Fairphone 3+ understandably, it seems sufficient testing and even more importantly fixing capabilities aren’t there.

This needs a major overhaul.

10 Likes

Ariane, I have the same experience as you. I had to send my phone in for repair a few month ago, it took 2 weeks to repair.
After a few weeks the issues appeared again. And have gotten worse, to the point that the phone is unusable for a few hours. The support team offered me to send the phone in for repair, again. I need my phone for daily use and I don’t have another phone. I bought the Fairphone exactly for the point to not buy another smartphone for a long time (and don’t have another one lying around without a use). I just cannot send it in for repair another time. I asked to get a replacement module and send back the faulty module, but got no answer for that.

Devices can break, errors happen in manufacturing. But I’m really unhappy with the support policy from fairphone. It takes weeks to reply to severe device issues. They can’t find a solution and send you the faulty device back. They marked the phone as especially easy to repair with modules, but cannot offer you a replacement part and instead you have to send you device back to get it replaced entirely and need another spare device. And then they launch a new major software upgrade without resolving the existing problems first, instead they got even worse. I don’t need the new swipe gestures from Android 10 if my screen freezes every few minutes and ghost touches call people or activate flight mode while talking.
At least, after the announcement of the CEO, I know I’m not the only one with the problems. But I’m not very convinced that they are able to find the root cause with there teams in Amsterdam and Taipei after sending my phone in for repair the first time which was processed by a third party support company that couldn’t reproduce my problem and just send a replaced device back (with the same issues, again!)

2 Likes

Not to get too far OT, but I opened the PDFs in Inkscape which revealed that the text had been converted to vector paths, i.e. it was no longer text - so OCR is definitely the only way to make it machine-readable in this case. Not great for people who rely on text-to-speech technology to use the Web.

1 Like

Danke für die offenen Worte. Nur eine Anmerkung: ich glaube nicht, daß die Fehler nur eine kleine Minderheit der FP3-Nutzer betraf. Ich war auch betroffen von willkürlichen Verbindungsabbrüchen, nur halb aufgebauten Verbindungen, plötzlichen “die gewählte Rufnummer ist nicht vergeben”-Ansagen mitten in Telefongesprächen (unabhängig davon ob als Anrufer oder Angerufener). Ich habe mich nicht beim Support gemeldet, da die Probleme bereits bekannt waren, bearbeitet wurden und ich die Bitte den überlasteten Support nicht unnötig zu strapazieren beherzigt habe. Ich bin sicher, daß das Andere ebenso gehalten haben werden. Zwischenzeitlich war ich so frustriert, daß ich jedem von den Gesprächsabbrüchen betroffenen Gesprächspartner als Erklärung das unzuverlässige FP3 genannt habe. Immerhin freue ich mich jetzt, daß seit dem letzten Update bei mir kein weiterer Fehler aufgetreten ist. Hoffentlich bleibt das so. Für ein nicht funktionstüchtiges Gerät ist das FP3 trotz guter Idee einfach zu teuer. Mit freundlichen Grüßen, einer Ihrer unfreiwilligen Beta-Tester

2 Likes

Um Dein Recht auf ein funktionales Gerät innerhalb der Gewährleistungszeit durchzusetzen, ist es jedoch wichtig, den Support zu kontaktieren, damit Dein Fall dokumentiert ist.

Wenn man sich das Bulletin von Eva Gouwens durchliest, möge man meinen, dass einfach alles in Richtung Software-Probleme geht, aber da bin ich anderer Meinung. Die erwähnten “ghost touches” werden offensichtlich nicht von fehlerhafter Software hervorgerufen:

3 Likes

Vielen Dank für den richtigen Hinweis. Ich will aber nichts juristisch durchsetzen - das ist mir weder das Geld noch den Ärger wert. Im Zweifelsfall werde ich nach 3 Generationen FP mit Bedauern einfach wieder zur “normalen” Konkurrenz abwandern.

Hello Pitey,

interesting to hear from another victim of circumstance. When I had sent the phone in the first time (after at least three or four phone calls) the support exchanged the main board. But the mistake remained. The second time, they sent back to me a completely new phone with a french (!) user interface (I speak German, English, a bit of Spanish and very little French) and in protected mode. And it ended after some back and forth of trying to make it work exactly the same as before happened.

The support person I spoke to after the first exchange told me that there are about 1000 out of 100.000 people with Fairphone 3 that experience the problems after the update with Android 10. And I think they shold have reacted already then and have sent a CEO letter.

I would like to know which provider You use (mine ist Deutsche Telekom) and if You also disabled a lot of what I call Googles spy functions (localizing You all the time, backup on Google Drive, sending a lot of usage data). Also, I found that Playstore Protect was activated by default and that it seemed to scan everything all the time.

How are You going to proceed in that matter? I am still in the first year of warranty and so I hope Fairphone will take the phone back.

Greetings

Ariane

Your phone came with Google services enabled. You better check if the phone works with enabled services, because if it does, there is no reason for Fairphone to take back your device.

My provider is blau.de with the Vodafone/D2 network. I have a lot of google services disabled, but I don’t think this is the problem with ghost touches. I even tried to use th alternative system lineage OS and had the same issues. I’m pretty sure now, that the ghost touches are a problem with the connection from the display module to the mainboard which causes freezing and the ghost touches come from moisture in the connector. I think I have mostly ghost touches, when the weather ist bad and it’s cold outside.

1000 out of 100.000 ist a lot. That’s 1%. I try to get a new display module and I think that this will help at least for a few month. I don’t think it is possible to give the phone back and the get the money back. This is what I would like to do. I don’t want the Fairphone any longer, because I’m fed up with the week long support response time and I’m sure that the problems will come again even with a new phone after a few month and they can’t find a solution.

Thanks for the statement. These things are never easy to do, and I for one appreciate it.

On the subject of ghost touches, I’ve experienced this issue, and I would like to suggest that you think about climate, not networks. It happens when my phone is exposed to cold air, and always at night.

4 Likes

Hello,

I am still into warranty, that is why I believe giving back could be possible. But I did not hear from that up to now. I had the problem also when there was good weather. „Ghost touch“ means that the display reacts as if touched, but noone touched it, right?

I am not going to get anything any more from Fairphone, and if I cannot give it back, I will still get a new one, but from a brand with good reputation and may be one-hand responsibility, which would mean Apple.

Hello,

I have heard from someone else who even exchanged the operating system, but the problem remained. Also, I did not disable everything from Google, only some functions. SO, Google does not seem to be the problem and if, Fairphone should tell You which Google functions have to stay switched on to make the phone work.

Anyways, I will not buy any phone with an android os any more, because I think Google should be split up. They are an irresponsible, much too big giant with way too much money and no tax paying ethics. May be, the open community should spend more time and effort to develop alternatives that enable real open markets to exist and that do not take an IT specialist to make use of the products.

Greetings

Ariane

I have more or less the same problem, and also NO TRUE SOLUTION.
Patrick.

Huh, these accusations are basically the same which the European Union has spoken out against Apple. Now, these two are the big players in the smartphone industry. Will you go back to a good old (and no longer available) Nokia feature phone instead? I do not like those practices, too, but you could compare these companies with children who have been told to not eat sweets. If they have any possibility to get chocolate, they will just take and enjoy it!

3 Likes

There are a lot of different types of Android projects. I think we have to differ between AOSP (Android Open Source Project) Android One, Google Services and so on.
And there are community driven Android projects available - with as less Google as possible!
You can even buy a FP3 and a FP3+ with a preinstalled /e/ OS (which is based on LineageOS)!

And LineageOS for FP3 should get official very soon, too!
Indeed, it needs some steps to install a different OS like LOS on your device. But you don’t have to be an IT specialist.

5 Likes

Hi @AnotherElk,

Thanks for your honest and critical feedback. There are several things we can agree on. Indeed, we do need to review our testing capacity, communicate more proactively and learn from this to avoid this situation in future.

However, we don’t come to the same conclusion that the current set-up with outsourced software isn’t working and needs a major overhaul. Most of it is actually working well. With the current set-up, we have more resources available, including specific knowledge for example to pass operator requirements. We also have a more efficient way of working on multiple products simultaneously. A large part of the FP2 development was, in fact, outsourced to Asia. We had an ODM and we currently have a software partner working with us. We also have internal software engineers who manage the outsourcing of the FP2. Additionally, we have internal engineers for the FP3. The only difference is that they are based in Taipei, working closely with our ODM.

In the future, we aim to have a single in-house team, with software engineers from both Asia and Europe, working with partners in a more consistent way on the software longevity of multiple products at the same time (FP2/FP3). Our current set-up is not perfect and there is still room for improvement, but our software longevity goal is quite unique in the industry and we need to iterate to build the ideal organizational set up for that.

That said, thanks once again for your feedback. We hear you, and we are working to constantly improve. :slight_smile:

13 Likes

Personally I’d like to see this being marketed more.
IIRC the shop page (last time I checked) doesn’t say that software updates are planned for 5 years. That information is somewhat “hidden” in social media replies and some older press articles around the time the FP3 was announced.
The result is that I stumble over people every now and then who don’t believe me if I say the FP3 will be supported for 5 years (“but how can that be possible if Google only offers 3?”).

5 Likes

Longevity can be achieved by stability, from which the FP3(+) is far away, unfortunately…

2 Likes

I have read the reply from @rae to @AnotherElk , and I really must respond to it:

@rae Most parts of your statement focus on product development and administration, which, of course, are essential for many companies in the world. But I think you have not imagined what @AnotherElk has really meant.

For now, you really shall focus on one single product, the FP3(+), and iron out the bugs one by one, to get it back on track again. In other words: Please do your homework first to deliver what you have promised: a working product.

This set-up that you have been mentioning obviously does not solve the problems which have been poking FP3(+) users for months and months. Who is in charge to solve these issues? Fairphone, your ODM, or your software partner? Are you taking legal actions in case that these issues are not solved by your partners within a reasonable timeframe?

Please do not forget that you have a commitment to your customers, too, who have been supporting you on your way to success! If you let them down now, Fairphone most likely will go down the drain. Stability is the key to achieve longevity. Buying a non-working FP3(+) and replacing it by an “Unfairphone” shortly afterwards is just the opposite of what Fairphone want to do. And I really hate to say this, but you are clearly losing the focus of your goal.

So, please get your act together and fix your product a.s.a.p. We have always heard of Fairphone being a small company, but after months of waiting and making the product even worse (with the Android 10 upgrade), some users are losing their patience. Enough is enough!

I really hope so!

4 Likes