Communicating with the users

The “Fairphone world” is still somewhat new to me, but I already learned that the user forum is mostly just for users and not to communicate with Fairphone as company - at least it seems that no staff of Fairphone is present here on a regular basis. But I may be mistaken - if I missed anything, let me know.

That’s a pitty since many questions in the help forums could be answered by just keeping a list of known issues and maybe an indication what Fairphone as company is already working on. Also user feedback can be very valuable - so I would add this as well, so others can see if a certain suggestion was already made by someone else.

I also learned that Fairphone started with “Fairphone Open” for the Fairphone 2 but stopped doing so for the later models. For example for the Fairphone 4 you only find the kernel source and some GPL related parts at Open Source at Fairphone — FAIRPHONE open source documentation - but without any instructions at all how to use that source code. So to me this looks more like a “we fulfill the obligation to publish GPL stuff but nothing else - if you want to have an open source OS use something else but not FairphoneOS”.

Also some of the issues with Android 12 on the Fairphone 4 should be covered by an official statement by Fairphone 4 since there are obviously some issues, for example:

  • Problems with Bluetooth and aptX.
  • Buggy behaviour of the “Glance” widget in the stock launcher.
  • Buggy behaviour when using 3-button-navigation: The “recent apps” feature does not work properly when using a third party launcher. Sometimes elements or text are white in front of light blue background sections where they should be black and the 3-button navigation is also sometimes “white on white”. With the gesture based navigation this does not happen.
  • WiFi-Hotspot can not be activated if you select 5 GHz or if WiFi is enabled. However there is also no message to the user about the reasons if you want to enable the hotspot - it just does not work then.

Unfortunately I could not find any statement at all by Fairphone if they can confirm these bugs and if a fix can be expected or if the next update to Android 13 will cover this.


Such is discussed at least 10-20 times all over the forum and it will lead to nowhere in my opinion… Just my two cents…

Recent discussions


I wouldn’t call it nothing else, they just went in a different direction than continuing to do their own Custom ROM, they now support others doing it …


Thanks for the hint, yes e/OS/ seems to be the way to go, if Google services are not that important or you want to even get rid of Google stuff. Maybe I should give that a try. At least many banking apps (or apps to confirm transactions) seem to work ok there as well (which is crucial or me, since not all banks offer alternatives without the need of montly fees for that).


Well - under these conditions I really question my decision to be a Fairphone angel. It feels like doing someone elses work without any support at all.


I’m sorry that you feel it this way and I’d also appreciate more involvement of FP staff here. Still i think that there’s no relation between FP staff forum involvement and volunteering as a FP angel. Without that mentioned support I can always try to give local help to less technically skilled people.


I also have the impression that too little attention is paid to the ghosttouches. Where is the final solution?

I believe you arrived here in the middle of some kind of interregnum. In the end of January, Fairphone’s Community Manager left Fairphone, and right now Fairphone is still in the process of hiring or familiarizing a new one. However, it also needs to be said that all the four Community Managers so far arrived in the forum with lots of energy and willingness, but in the end had less and less time to keep in touch with with the community here. (It probably also didn’t help, but made things worse for the CM to reduce involvement to the Fairphone OS update topics which are among the most likely to produce unpleasant experiences with the community).

It would need more than just one single Fairphone Community Manager to take care of dealing with the community (emphasis either on more or one … or on both actually).


In the end it’s a question of approach.
I think Fairphone could approach this much better, @askaaron made fair points in this regard.

In my opinion …

Fairphone had a public bug tracker for their Fairphone 2 OSes, other projects have public bug trackers for their stuff, this is a well-proven concept which works, at least for raising issues, referencing them and following progress (hopefully there would be progress).

And then there’s the community forum … I mean, employees need to be paid, but I fail to see how it wouldn’t greatly benefit Fairphone to really give somebody of their staff the time to browse this rich collection of valuable info and feedback and engage and answer stuff and be an accessible and timely link to Fairphone’s internal proceedings (orders, support, documentation etc.).
There are glimpses … Fairphone staff are answering questions here and there in a competent manner, and the community managers certainly did what they could within obvious time constraints … so you can’t help but wonder why this can’t be done with more urgency and consistency.
Fairphone wouldn’t need to concern everybody internally with the forum, a community manager acting as a kind of interface was a good idea, but then really let them do the job, give them time to read and get an idea of what’s going on and feed necessary info back and forth between the forum and Fairphone.

You need only one with the necessary time, commitment and priorities, and then you need to deal with absence (vacation etc.) … just look at the /e/OS community as an example, since you’re there, too. That’s certainly one thing they got working rather well, I think, and how many people fill this role over there :wink: ?


I feel like I keep bringing up the comparison with Framework’s approach to communicating with users, but having bought a Fairphone after being so pleased with my Framework, and especially with the interactions with the community and company, the experience has been enormously disappointing. Framework have some dedicated community managers, and some employees providing support in specific areas of expertise (eg, Linux), but they also have a culture of encouraging employees more generally to participate in the forum, and a culture of letting employees communicate directly with users about topics they know about.

And so questions actually get answered, with authoritative answers, not speculation. Discussions progress, and end, even when they end with an employee explaining why something can’t be done, or can’t be fixed. Users coming to the forum with already-answered questions can be pointed to those authoritative answers by users, saving support and employees time. As it appears that in many cases, the employees responsible for dealing with particular aspects of the product are also the ones answering questions about those aspects, the answers can be confident and likely take less time overall than answers by a community liaison or support person who would need to look up information, or ask someone else.

And while, certainly, asking about whether a used screen module might be able to be used as an external display, and having the CEO start posting links to aliexpress of potentially compatible boards he’s found, might be a bit much to expect of most companies, a more contemporary model of employee-user communication should be possible.

They also seem to have some of their support staff on the forums, and trust them to handle information from their support system and the forum together. That means that when users come with problems that need to be handled by support, support can directly intervene to get them in contact, and let them (and others reading the thread later) know what to expect. It means that when users come to the forum after a bad experience with a support person, support employees on the forum can notice, review the situation, and make clear to anyone reading the thread in their response that they’ve reviewed it, particularly in correcting anything wrong the initial support person may have said that the user repeated. And in cases when users come to the forum with potentially skewed descriptions of bad experiences with support, support can defend themselves and offer their side of the story.

Of course, it’s not clear how much of this Fairphone would actually be able to do. As far as I can tell, their development is now outsourced, their repair is outsourced to a generic board-replacement-under-warranty company, and their support may well be outsourced. That makes it quite a bit harder for them to have direct communication with users, and it may be why they no longer have a public issue tracker.

For local assistance, the Fairphone Angel program might make sense, and is at least somewhat disconnected from FP staff forum involvement, though I do wonder what vetting is involved, considering some of the posts I’ve seen by some of them here and on Framework’s forum. But from the perspective of users coming to the forum with questions, regardless of what forum posts might say to the contrary, the vacuum created by Fairphone’s lack of communication means that Fairphone Angels are at risk of being seen as filling that vacuum, especially when, even if a user has seen an actual employee post, employees have ‘Fairphone Employee’ and a blue and white badge, while angels have ‘Fairphone Angel’ and a blue and white badge.

Yet instead, those angels, on the forum, have the thankless job of largely trying to answer questions, to users who likely think they have some special knowledge, with guesswork, vague experience, and no information from Framework, or with answers they must know, from experience, are very unlikely to be helpful to the users in many instances (eg, contacting support about basic functionality deficiencies, perhaps to be tallied up, perhaps to be ignored, but in any case to enter an opaque process that will almost certainly leave the user disappointed).

If Fairphone actually communicated openly with users, Fairphone Angels could actually have more authoritative knowledge, and could point users with questions to actual answers, making the task very different. But as it is, there is usually nothing to point to, save for endless questions answered with speculation or frustration, and often moved by moderators into enormous, disordered threads about very wide topics, making it very difficult for users to even search for those speculative answers before posting questions.


Maybe you read first

There it’s imho made clear that the Fairphone angels program has not been setup for a special group to “answer questions on the forum” but for local support


Then why prominently label all their posts on the forum, in a manner quite similar to those by Fairphone Employees? Fairphone Angels appear to be more prominently highlighted in the forum than moderators, with a similar bright blue badge to that of employees. And in practice, almost all support questions here will usually have Angels respond to try to answer questions.

You’ve read that. I’ve read that. But why would a new user looking for support have read that? It isn’t mentioned in the welcome message. It isn’t mentioned in the forum guidelines. Checking while logged out, it doesn’t appear to even be pinned in the Participate section; it appears to only be pinned if users go specifically to the Local section, and scroll below the calendar that appears. The Fairphone Angels group that users can sometimes get to by clicking the Fairphone Angel title next to posts doesn’t mention it, or describe what the Angels are.

Yes, the Fairphone Angels program was not set up to answer questions on the forum. But the reality of the user experience here is that a new user with support questions is going to come here, and get responses from users with a blue badge and “Fairphone Angel” next to their name. They might be forgiven for being confused about what that means, and making assumptions: the communication on this could be far more easily discoverable.

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Just on the general question of communicating with users, I’m pinning some hope on a really useful and dynamic revision of the My Fairphone app. I don’t know what proportion of users ever get to the forum at all (and for some of those it’s too late, look at the “rice” problem …), but the app is a potentially valuable channel for getting to all of them.

But of course the app is of less use if it’s not kept updated1. At the moment it’s mostly useful for keeping track of one’s Support tickets, and pointing to relevant articles on the Support website. It could be updated more regularly with info such as

  • the consequences of the latest update, point to forum topics
  • techniques some users may not know
  • known bugs: progress and work-arounds

I’d like to see the app as the instinctive first port of call when you encounter a problem.

1 - For example, in user guides, many of the links are “broken”. Really basic stuff.


The world and probably especially the smartphone/technology industry is a Minefield. I use a Fairphone, because think humans need to change their behavior and step back from faster, immediately, higher, more, I’m the most and only important, I want it now (not saying its what you are saying) and I appreciate that there are companies like Fairphone or Shiftphones who do their best to change the market from within the market.

So with this understanding I just start with me and I’m patient and give Fairphone a lot more “failure credits” I would give one of the big players, instead of the other way round. My personal way to assist them, is to help others, to keep their phone as long as possible and I don’t do this for Fairphone, but for “the world” and the people needing help. I don’t expect anything from Fairphone for this help, I just hope they will be strong enough to survive with the resources they have and I trust they learn and listen (in my eyes they demonstrated several times already that they do). Is this quixotic? Maybe, however I think without this, volunteer work would not exist.

I see as well fields for improvement and I know it will never be perfect as each person has its own priorities. I don’t want a smartphone or company to give me angry and negative emotions, so I stopped having non-personal expectations, because then there is nothing to take personal or disappoint me. And no, just because I’m more patient with Fairphone, it does not mean I don’t see obstacles etc., I just try to stop to evaluate this is as pos. or neg. and focus on how I personally can handle it within the situation as it is, as best as possible. I take my critics and address it directly towards Fairphone, as I don’t see how public discussions would help me with my situation.

I also think, that a Fairphone is not (yet) a phone for everyone and I think sometimes its better when one just accepts this and not feel guilty or whatever that they have to move back to a less-ethical/sustainable company. People have different use cases and needs and that’s fine.

I can’t tell you or others here how to think or feel or behave, I just try to open the room for other perspectives.


I have no problem with helping others without any special compensation. I’ve been active in bike kitchens and repair cafés and think we should always try to repair things first instead of replacing them.

However - at least I expect that Fairphone listens to the users and let us know if and how they gonna work on reported issues. It’s not very motivating to explain others how to deal with specific bugs in the software if you don’t even know if Fairphone is aware of a bug at all.

Furthermore about the support system: recently I tried to contact support and the only reaction to this was telling me to contact the dealer where I got the pone and asking me for my proof of purchase if the purchase was more than 30 days ago. Without proof of purchase I would not get any support at all!

However the IMEI of the device in the support ticket was already registered at Fairphone to get the 5 year warranty. So Fairphone could easily check the manufacuring date of device and they could also easily know when this device was purchased since it was registered to get warranty.

I really appreciate the effort in creating sustainable products, but the way how Fairphone deals with customer requests should be improved.

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Have a look at this wiki (communty maintained, nothing official):

The idea is to collect reproducible issues, then report them to support and keep each other in the loop of their responses or any fixes we come up with. It’s a way to keep things central. Also, the more people report the issue to support, the higher the priority may become.

I know its getting off topic and I’m wondering why you think you have to do this? There is no Angel “job description” and I only do things I feel comfortable with. Just recently I had a help request and finally the user wanted to discuss with me over phone general Fairphone behavior. I just refused this, as I didnt feel like it in this moment. I’m not connected to Fairphone and have no obligations to do anything I dont want to do. Maybe it helps to see yourself as a repair cafe (in this case just for one product) and in a repair cafe you have normally no insights about the manufacturer of the products and I doubt you feel you have to defend them, or explain things you cant explain, you just look at the product, see if you can repair it and thats it.


I appreciate the effort to keep such a list. However - does the support know that list or are only individual issues reported there?

Also this list is missing the “recent apps” bug with Android 12: when not using the stock launcher the “recent apps” button will stop working when used frequently. This bug is reproducable very easily and also affects other devices with early version of Android 12.

Workarounds: set animations in developer options to “off” or use the gesture navigation instead of 3-button-navigation.

Also see: Update to Android 12 broke Switch App Button (Square) - #38 by askaaron


Support is aware of the list, I got some positive feedback in the past.

I find it tricky when you mention that 3rd party software is used. With early Android 12 versions you mean recent updates of Android 12? If you can reproduce it on different Android 12 devices, with this 3rd party launcher, then it’s not a FP issue. Then it’s best to bug the developers of that 3rd party launcher to improve their Android 12 support. At least, that’s what I can conclude with the info you provide me here.

To keep the overview useful for FP4 users I don’t want to make it a list of generic 3rd party issues that are not device specific and thus are in the scope of what FP can actually fix.


Well - in this way all software related issues are caused by some problem with Android 12 and have nothing to do with FP4 at all. Also the AptX bug happens on other devices as well, not only FP4.

However Fairphone should be aware of that issue and keep an eye on that if this may be fixed with newer Android versions or maybe they need to fine-tune their build options to make sure that issues like these do not happen.

Besides that using another launcher is a completely normal use of Android. Launchers are offered as apps, you do not need any developer options and also on FP4 you can select the launcher to be used in the “default apps” setting. And if using another launcher causes the “recent apps” function to fail, this is clearly a reproducable bug - no matter who is responsible for that. Also it is not the responsibility of the third party launcher to provide the “recent apps” view. It also does not matter which launcher you use - it happes with all third party launchers I tested: Nova Launcher, Simple Launcher, OLauncher, P Launcher, Ruthless Launcher - I doubt that all of these launchers don’t support Android 12 correctly when we are already at Android 13 nowadays.

Edit: and “early Android 12 version” means: the version which is used by Fairphone. This is not the latest version of Android 12. They just included newer security patches. But things like “Material You” which are available on other devices with Android 12 are not available on the FP4 yet.

Edit: about the “recent apps” issue, also see here:

This already 1 year old(!). I am not sure if Google had fixed this meanwhile in newer Android version. But hopefully this will be solved. The stock launcher for the FP4 - Quickstep - is also not ideal since the “Google Glance” widget does not work correctly and you can not remove the Google search bar at all.

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