That would be fair enough if it WAS a five year old product, It isn’t. It’s a TWO YEAR OLD product!
That’s an oversimplification. Sure, the last FP2 was sold two years ago. But then, the first was introduced five years ago (and that set the technical specifications). That distinction is usually not relevant for “mainstream” phones as they are typically sold for one year until the successor comes out.
To follow up the email that was sent out last week with some answers to your questions.
We investigated many avenues to extend support of the bottom module including looking into manufacturing more bottom modules. However, doing so would involve re-certification of the entire product, which would involve significant cost and capacity.
Due to health and safety concerns, providing the blueprints or allowing users to repair their own bottom module is not an option. These modules are made up of almost 1000 components that are so small, delicate and interconnected that it is unsafe to allow customers to come into direct contact with these electrical components and chemicals. We do not encourage customers to repair or create their own modules.
We have always aimed for five years of support from launch, and after supporting the Fairphone 2 for a full 5 years, it’s simply not possible to produce more bottom modules anymore. We do however continue to support the Fairphone 2’s software and several other modules currently.
We hope this answers your questions. If you are still under warranty and your bottom module is broken, you can get in touch with our Customer Support team for an in-warranty replacement.
So what I learn from this: don’t buy products from Fairphone that were introduced more than two years ago, as it can likely not be repaired. As a consequence I will consider selling my FP3 once it reaches it’s end of production and buy a cheap phone because I don’t have 400+€ lying around to spend it on a new phone because my Fairphone can’t be repaired when it breaks. What I learned from Fairphone: the most sustainable phone is the one you don’t have to buy.
I can even understand your argumentation, it sounds reasonable, but: I thought that Fairphone would support things like the right to repair. Like many arguments, the argumentation boils down to the statement: there is no alternative, there is nothing we can do, that is capitalism. This is a killer argument to avoid having to find other solutions.
As I understand it, the whole idea of Fairphone is based on the conviction that things can be done differently and better. So this is simply abandoned here?
[EDIT]: if I say “you” of course I don’t mean you in person but the company.
Well, they have developed a new Android ROM, which is nice, of course. But when the bottom module is broken, it will not work with any ROM to talk with anyone. It is like “hey, you have come that far, congratulations for handling the phone with extreme care! You have earned a free ROM upgrade (and pray that your phone will be still alive tomorrow)!”
That sounds like an excuse and for the bottom module: its’ not 1000 components like @Leo_TheCrafter demonstrated in New Fairphone 2 Bottom Module with an appropriate case
The bottom module is one of the most failing parts, nearly all my cases in Berlin Fairphone Angel heaven circles around failing bottom modules. If it can’t be repaired or replaced, the phone becomes useless.
So Fairphone says, the 2 year old FP2s bottom module can’t be repaired.
Fairphone can’t replace it.
No 3rd party repair shop can repair it.
The Blueprints are closed source, so nobody can ever repair it.
So a failing bottom module (and the risk is high) means end of life.
I am thinking about selling one of mine for … € 500? “Fair electronics, unfair price!”
I can’t tell you how much I agree with your comment!
To clarify it from start on: I am really frustrated regarding that message, as I as well regard this as a drawback. And it’s really sad, thinking about having to throw away the phone just for one failing module.
Still I think, that many comments are easy to make from a now perspective and would have been much harder to foresee; which is a tad bit unfair.
Essentially, you are right here in my opinion, regarding the capitalism part.
Still, Fairphone is a small company with limited ressources. I guess, they make such decisions to stay in business. Would they be a large company making such decisions to pay higher dividends to investors, it would be a totally different piece of cake.
And regarding the “avoid having to find other solutions” part, I have no idea, what that could be.
As a manufacturer you have to take responsibility and warrant for what you sell. If something breaks, they have to sell certified spared parts. Though I am surprised, that they would need to re-certify the module, I have no reason to not believe them. Sellig DIY kits or publishing blueprints and encouraging home-repair of the innards of modules could mean legal obligations and liability for any damages.
And that can really make companies go bancrupt.
Remember those Samsung batteries, that went up in flames.
There was more than one class action lawsuit filed in the US. Though I have no idea, how they ended.
Ok, that’s capitalism again; so to speak.
Anyone having a reasonable and practical idea how to overcome those obstacles will surely be welcome by Fairphone (just my uneducated guess of course).
I do understand the struggles that arise from producing a new batch of these modules. But keeping back the blueprints because from the few people that are able to read them one might destroy his/her phone while the same person could do so without the blueprints, too, sound a little bit too careful or like an excuse for another reason.
When replacing parts at e.g. the bottom module we’re speaking about replacing a mike or a vibration motor or to resolder broken connections. For this, blueprints might help to find the correct spare parts or to check the correct functionality. Unless Fairphone has built in a nuclear power plant into the bottom modules I don’t think that this is too dangerous…
I am really convinced that there is no easy solution, otherwise they would have come up with it. I don’t have a solution, too. But then I am not involved as deeply into this topic as the FP-people are, and maybe the solution is very hard to find.
I agree, I don’t think they stop selling the modules because they want us to buy new FP3.
There is an Open Source Hardware movement, I don’t understand why they can’t publish the blueprints under one of the many licenses. The only reason I could think of is that they don’t own the blueprints but that they belong to someone else. On the other hand, this is not what @rae said. She said:
I don’t see why FP shouldn’t trust their customers and treat them as adults. When I don’t understand how to modify the software part, I can damage my phone or maybe blow up the battery or disturb the network by manipulating the code in a wrong way. Nevertheless, they published FP Open for FP2 and made unlocking very easy for FP2 (and a little bit harder for FP3, but still possible). I can’t see the difference between publishing the source code and publishing the blueprints. Not publishing makes it even more likely that people will improperly experiment with the module to extend the life of the otherwise broken phone.
hmm, That reminds me of Apple. A 16-year old guy answered this question in court:
To be fair, it’s just his point of view, but I just had a flashback when I read Fairphone’s reasons.
I haven’t bought my FP2 2 years ago so I am less frustrated than others, and furthermore I only changed my bottom module once in 4+ years. Still, I just wanted to add to this discussion that for me, from the beginning, Fairphone was all about fairer materials, about mining in Africa etc. When the FP2 was launched, the modularity was a bonus. Then FP talked more and more about sustainability and this has become the strongest argument to buy a FP3 right now as I see it (more than the fairness as I see it).
This is the picture that I linked to FP (from when I bought my phone):
Here are the pictures from today’s website:
So I wonder if most of the frustration doesn’t result from a miscommunication that focuses on a sustainability that FP fails to provide (and I can understand why) instead of focusing on FP’s real innovation: the fairness.
Sustainability can be achieved in many ways and FP has interesting proposals with the FP3, but the message from the start was “keep you phone as long as possible”, so I understand how frustrating it is when you have to throw away (recycle!) your phone after 2-3 years. One could say that an iPhone that you keep 5-6 years has a better impact than a FP2 that you would have to give up after 3 years because the bottom module is dead.
The problem I always have with comparisons to Apple and the like is simply the size of the company and the amounts of sales.
Apple has financial accounts, that most countries worldwide can’t even dream of achieving.
Stockpiling parts for millions of phones is much easier, than for 100,000 phones; even more so, when you virtually “own” the factories. Not to mention the fact, that Apple doesn’t really care, if 100,000 parts go waste.
Regarding open source hardware, I have to admit, that it’s new to me.
Still I would guess, that publishing some blueprint could result in legal liability for them, A risk, a company has to be careful to take. But I might be totally wrong there.
Yes, and that’s why there is no comparison with Apple in my message, it’s just that the explanation reminds me of the rhetoric used by Apple. I thought it was clear, but you’re right to emphasize the difference. I wanted in no way say that FP should provide spare parts like Apple does. The question was only about the blueprints and the legal responsibility.
As you say, one cannot compare FP and Apple, and one of the differences is that FP is under EU-law. I would hope that it could be easier for FP to disengage liability than it is in the USA but I don’t have a clue either!
During the 4 1/2 years I had a FP2, I ‘got through’ 7 or 8 bottom modulets - most of them replaced under garantee due to their short life time. It seems to me it was a weak design.
My FP3+ is a much more robust design and I have (so far - after several months use) experienced absolutely no problems.
I agree with your diagnosis of the real cause of the bottom module microphone problem. Squeezing the case tightly in the area of the bottom module got the microphone working again, but it was impossible to use the phone in this manner. I used a bluetooth earpiece instead.
Interesting, didn’t know either that there were few ARA prototypes around
Found those specs (ARA A8A01) in a Phandroid 2016 article (with lots of pictures)
Thanks for the hint
As always, thanks for the feedback shared in this thread. We fully understand your frustration and once again apologize as we realise this would be a challenge for some of you.
Since we launched the Fairphone 2 over 5 years ago, we’ve been working hard to ensure module availability. We stockpiled parts based on future sales and refurbishment projections, while keeping in mind our environmental footprint and minimising e-waste by not producing more than necessary. But spare part sourcing can be challenging, especially as a small player in the electronics industry. This becomes increasingly difficult once the manufacturer of the modules stops production.
To answer the question about blueprints, we understand that there are customers who are already building their own modules. However we unfortunately cannot provide blueprints because the design and manufacture of electronics requires specific knowledge of materials and electronics.
We manufacture a modular device because we believe in empowering Fairphone owners to repair their device in a way that is safe. However, we are also a business and as such we are subject to product liability laws and we have to meet standards of professional duty of care, as already pointed out in a previous comment. So when deciding whether we can share the blueprints with you, and in so doing implicitly endorsing you to make your own modules, we cannot just look at this from a sustainability or an owner’s right to repair perspective. We also have to consider whether making the blueprints publicly available without being able to assess users’ technical capabilities would be considered the act of a responsible manufacturer. This means we have to ask ourselves if we can take sufficient action to ensure the safety of the Fairphone owner and the wider community, and by making this information publicly accessible, we would not be able to do so.
That said, if your Fairphone 2 is still covered by our manufacturing warranty and after troubleshooting it is found that your bottom module needs replacement, then we are able to offer you a replacement bottom module.
To emphasize a point made in the original email – this is not the end of the Fairphone 2. We have enough supply of other spare parts, such as batteries and displays, as well as a major Android upgrade coming up very soon.
Just scratch the word “the” and we are fine. For those who have a damaged bottom module, it is the end of their Fairphone 2…
I really appreciate your transparency, but the statement I picked out here is obviously very hollow. The Fairphone 2’s life ends as soon as its first module seizes to function that no longer has spare parts available, it’s as strong as its weakest link. Very few people are willing to put up with hardware crippled in ways like “the camera is broken” or “the microphone is broken”. Based on experiences from me and many others, the first component to go is the bottom module, with a mean-time-to-failure that seems to be around 12 months.
Edit: Ingo fixed it for me