My name is Gerald, I live in Austria, and since about one week I have been watching news and discussions about Fairphone.
My wife and I still own classic “feature phones” so far. (Me a SonyEricsson T700 (2009), my wife a Nokia C2-01 (2011), both bought many years ago before Fairphone was founded.) I must say, we are very, very happy with our phones, but of course we cannot make appropriate use of the Internet while on the move. Sometimes my mobile does not charge reliably due to a worn out socket. And I had to exchange the battery after six(!) years. But if our world would not change the way it does all the time, this device is just what I would call “a true friend for the rest of my lifetime”!
However, I have had to realize that access to Internet “on the go” is pretty essential nowadays to cope with the changes our society goes through, whether they make me happy or not…
Now, the reason why I landed here is that I recognized recent news of a better camera the Fairphone shall be equipped with in the future. I looked at the technical specification of the smartphone, and I must say that except the fact that the device comes with Android 5.1 instead of 6.0 or 7.0, the Snapdragon 801 CPU and the Dual SIM capability are nice goodies for the most. Also the exchangeability of some parts inside the phone and the ease how they can be exchanged and how the phone can be repaired are great.
The social effort to reward miners who supply resources as well as employees who produce the phone in the factory is outstandingly perfect and commendable. Your customers get extremely well informed about how the sale price of the Fairphone is calculated and how the income is distributed to the respective sectors (development, manufacturing, retailing, etc.).
While seeking for a reliable smartphone, I have been reading in the forum about experiences from other Fairphone users. Some of them are highly satisfied with the product, some are badly disappointed. The community members are doing a great job to help other people who report technical problems when Fairphone cannot help out in decent time.
On the basis of several reports in the forum regarding several hardware or/and software issues, and long waits of fixes, repairs, and spare parts, I have been recognizing that the Fairphone might not be the right product for me. I really enjoy what Fairphoners have done (and most certainly will do) for a better world we are living in. But, to be honest, I would not buy a product for the price of approximately EUR 525 just to deal with a lot of issues, but helping people who get suppressed otherwise.
Of course, the concept of a modular phone is relatively new, and Fairphone deserves all my respect for the decision to enter the market with such a revolutionary device. But it seems to me that Fairphone wanted to “reach all the stars at once”, to achieve too many quite ambitious goals in a few years … and is struggling with a lot of issues now, which (in my opinion) are:
- Brand new device concept developed by a rather unexperienced company that built one common model (Fairphone 1) before.
- Underestimated costs for aftersales service and support. (As mentioned before, the Fairphone fanbase helps out whereever and whenever possible, but repeated lacks of spare parts causing a customer to wait for months until he/she can use the phone again is, as much as I sympathize, inacceptable. My quite unexperienced mother-in-law probably would start to panic when she cannot phone anyone.)
- Underestimated need of resources for software development (Android 6.0 and 7.0) and maintenance (bug fixing). (Fair question: Who wants to buy a smartphone nowadays that runs an operating system which was introduced on the May 9th, 2015 out of the box? Those who want to use it in a very simple way, I guess. By the way, happy second birthday, Lollipop!)
- Poor quality control. (Confused power and camera buttons on the recent back covers, several problems caused by defective bottom modules (dead microphones/USB ports), and a malfunctioning proximity sensor which leads to extensive battery usage, just to name a few. Though the last issue can be cured by flashing an older modem firmware, I would not recommend any “common” person to do so. At least I hope that Fairphone had in mind to develop and build a smartphone that can be used by people like my mother-in-law without the need to call her son-in-law once a week or buy a second device (for another EUR 525) which could be used when the own has died recently…)
Please do not get me wrong, I really appreciate Fairphone’s social activities for those who benefit: The men and women who often cannot choose a better living for themselves, their children, and their next generations. The people who often cannot deny a job at an exploitative company because their families depend on the (little) money it pays for a (rather bad) living.
Personally I decided to wait and see if and how Fairphone will develop and grow from now on, and which steps will be taken to get back into shallow waters again.
Maybe Fairphone should gain the trust of (potential) customers (again) by developing and selling Fairphone 3, which should be a smartphone made of a solid base of components used in almost every model nowadays. The less problems a Fairphone 3 makes, the more resources are left to work on current Android versions for the device, and further developments could then be accelerated, too.
Keep up the good work and improve the bad one!
PS: The forum registration process did not allow to register my account without having a Fairphone. I suggest to change the property of the respective field (pull-down menu) in the registration form to non-mandatory.