I’d like to connect peripheral devices to my FP4 so I am looking for a compatible USB-C docking station. I need USB PD to charge it, external display output(s) (preferably 60Hz @4K), some USB A 3.0 connections, audio output and if possible, memory card slots. But of course, most importantly, it should be fully compatible with FP4. On the other features, I might compromise if needed. Has anyone got some experiences with such docking stations? Is there a brand or a particular model that you can recommend or maybe one that you cannot recommend for known to be incompatible or having issues with FP4?
USB is like a water tap, with a standard thread. If you open it, cold water might spill out, warm water, hot chocolate or pure whisky. There is no standard what is supported by a device. You need to check the specs.
Currently I am using the DeLock USB-C Docking station with my notebook and sometimes my FP4. I needed a docking station with two DisplayPorts, which seems not to be a common requirement, so there are way cheaper options on the market if you go with a single DisplayPort or HDMI. I also just saw that it got bad reviews, but works for me with a multi-monitor setup for about a year now.
Downside: The docking station needs a power supply and additional input for PowerDelivery, if needed.
Couldn’t try out the RJ45 'til now, everything else works fine, beside the fact that I can’t connect the FP4 via USB-C-to-C with my notebook (other phones work fine), USB-A-to-C works fine.
If you buy a docking station, make sure it supports DisplayPort Alt Mode as input, that works far better than DisplayLink, which is quite a thing on older docking stations. If you want it to be future proof, pay attention to the maximum resolution and FPS the docking station is capable of, especially when attaching multiple screens.
Also pay attention to the quality of the cable. While my notebook can display 1920*1200 on two attached displays without any problems, I experience connection problems with my FP4 using the same (already higher quality) cable. Switching to an even better (and shorter) cable, I do not have problems with my FP4 at all and can use mouse and keyboard while having a stable image.
Thank you for your insight @Incanus. But if a USB stick or a keyboard works if connected directly to the phone, but does not work if they are connected with a docker in-between (if I get it right from the report of @hirnsushi), then how and why is cold water turned into hot chocolate inside the docker? So if the phone can communicate with any USB device at all, where and why does this communication protocol break inside the docker? I am a lot less surprised, if the Ethernet port doesn’t work for example, which could correspond to yet another drink in your example. But USB connections fails to work as well?.. I am rather a laymen in this, but I find it contra-intuitive at least for us, fellow laypeople that the apparently or naively thought to be simplest application of the device fails.
And as you say, one needs to check the specs: these are often scarce, not public or simply not readable by the general public. The other day I checked the description of a docker and it came with two lists, both incomplete. One listed the phones that are compatible with the docker and the other listed the incompatible devices. Fairphone couldn’t be found in either of the lists and since both were incomplete, this is rather useless for common Fairphone users (and everybody else with a phone missing from both lists). I really don’t know where such specs are openly published where one could verify compatibility of these devices, but when I wrote to Fairphone Support about this issue, they also just said that they haven’t tested yet all third party devices to see which work with Fairphone. If even for them, testing of specific products is needed, that suggests to me that it’s not just up to checking some specs on both sides, especially that I also asked them about two specific products.
Anyway, I much appreciate your input, I hope you don’t mind my complaints here.
What do you mean with ‘protocol break inside the docker’?
A docking station can be connected to the Fairphone, but not every possible funtion works with it, because it isn’t supported by the telephone. That’s what is listed in the specs of the FP4:
USB 3.0 with OTG
Display Port Support
And that’s for the FP3(+):
USB 2.0 support
although both have a USB-C connector. That’s what I wanted to express. The simple existence of a connector does not guaranty every possible functionality.
I mean exactly this: USB 3.0 with OTG. If I understand @hirnsushi’s report right, USB ports are not working for him with the docker. I assume that they are working without the docker, because of the specs you have just mentioned and because I have also tried this with my own phone. So why the same ports on the docker fail to provide the same functionality that you have without the docker?
Well, I don’t know for sure, but he wrote “USB / ethernet port(s)”, followed by “Bluetooth peripherals might be an option there…”, which I understood as Bluetooth keyboard and mouse as opposed to USB keyboard and mouse, I guess.
True. The OS might make a difference. Although I assumed that he had checked if those USB devices work when connected directly to the phone before reporting on problems with the docker, but I cannot know for sure if he tested this indeed. Maybe CalyxOS itself doesn’t support USB OTG?..
My best guess would be that rather than passing the “USB data” straight from the keyboard to the FP, the dock contains a USB controller, and it’s possible that Android (or at least, CalyxOS, since that was installed on @hirnsushi’s phone at the time.
Additionally, I think the docks that I use for my company laptop, DELL WD15 / WD19, pass a PCIexpress lane through the DisplayPort-over-USB-C link, so it’s feasible that not all components inside the Dock are usable for the FP.
Have you considered a docking monitor? I’ve have found this older thread while searching how supported docking monitors are External Display via USB-C port - #25 by Tobse it appears that the usb ports on various docking monitors and docking stations work just fine.
I suspect that the earlier report in this thread could be due to an issue or incompatibility in the OS or the dock in question.