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Fairphone 3+, a four months impression

Hi all,

I bought FP3+ for Christmas and I’ve been using it four months now.

First of all let me say something about me, as what you think of a phone is also related to who you are and what you expect from a phone.

I’ve been an Amnesty International activist in the 90’s, human rights are still at the center of my ethic and this is the main reason I got close to Fairphone.

I’ve never been a smartphone addict. I like smartphones but my usual budget for a phone is no more than 300 €. The phone I had before FP3+ was an ASUS Zenfone 3 and I was very satisfied with it.

Basically, a smartphone for me is something I need to make calls, listen to some music, take pictures and connecting to the internet wherever I am.

This being said, let’s come to the interesting part.

I bought FP3+, the USB cable, the charger, the earphones, the protective case and the screen protector.

I think the price is reasonable, taking into account that being fair to people and to the planet doesn’t come for free and the phone can count on a modular design that should prolonge its useful life.

The charger and the cable works perfectly and they also look very good. Especially the cable, I really love it. It looks nice and solid.

The protective case does its job without worsening the aesthetics of the phone. It looks well done.

Earphones are good from an audio point of view but I don’t like the cable goind behind my ears, I’d prefer having the usual cable falling down without twisting around them. The microphone has been placed too high in my opinion, it’s far from the mouth. The control buttons are the worse part of the earphones, they are very small and I can hardly feel them under my fingers so raising up or down the volume is not easy at all. I think the earphones needs improving from an ergonomics point of view.

The screen protector didn’t glue to the phone, the upper right corner kept coming off. The support offered to replace it but I asked to have the USB cable instead (as I realised I didn’t really need a screen protector). They were very kind and accepted to send me the cable instead of another screen protector.

The phone looks good. Technical specification (what the phone promises) are good and performance (what the phone really does) are also good to me. I don’t like the speaker placed on the left side of the phone because it’s exactly where I put my hand when I hold it and this covers the speaker. Placing it in the bottom would have been a better choice from an ergonomics point of view.

Let’s now come to the bad things…

Pre-installed apps could be much better (what follows are obviously based on my tastes). Youtube app for listening to music is really awful, AIMP is a far better alternative. I didn’t like the stock file manager application and I installed the file manager from SimpleTools. Google Photos is also bad as a gallery application and I installed the one from SimpleTools.

Since the beginning the phone rebooted around once a day (see Unexpected reboots and dual SIMs).

I got in touch with the support a few days after receiving the phone. I’m 51 year old and I can say they are the most kind persons I have ever found in the support planet. Unfortunately, I do think the customer support is not well managed from a technical point of view.

When buying FP3+ I thought becoming a Fairphone customer while apparently they tought they hired me as a Fairphone tester. I’ve spent an awfully lot of time testing to find a solution and doing unuseful things the support asked me to do (some of them where operations that could have solved the problem but some were obviously a waste of time). At the very beginning I also sent a log from my Linux box of what happened before a reboot through “adb logcat” but apparently nobody even looked at it.

After some weeks of testing, Fairphone support asked me to send the phone to the support center in France. I did it. The phone spent 1 hour and 50 minutes in their support lab (you get an email at the check in and one at the check out and it passed 1hr 50min among them). They updated the SW and sent the phone back. No troubleshooting at all and no check at all that the update had solved the problem. The phone got back to me with the same problem it had when I sent it. This is really a poor way of addressing a major customer problem.

Through autonomous testing I found a workaround: setting one SIM to 4G and the other to 3G stopped the reboots. However I’m still waiting for a definitive solution.

In my experience the support (despite, and this is also important to me, all people being very kind to me) has been a disappointment. I can understand they try to avoid having a phone sent back for a problem that could be solved by the user but when a phone keeps rebooting around once a day the right thing to do is getting the phone back, analysing the problem finding a solution, VERIFYING that it really solved the problem and send the phone back OR just give another phone to the customer. They didn’t do anything of that.

As I said, luckily I found a very good workaround and I can live with it now.

To sum up everything, I’m not sorry for my purchase but I would only suggest buying this phone to somebody that cares more about human rights (or sustainability) than phones and that is able to troubleshoot problems by him/herself. I’ve spent months with a phone that rebooted 5-6 times a week and I got out of that only because I’m an engineer and I’m used to solve this kind of problems by myself. A standard customer would probably still be there, after four months, looking at his/her phone rebooting almost every day. I wouldn’t like putting a friend of mine in that situation.

Ciao,
Max

11 Likes

Yeap! Replaced with (MP3 Player, File Manager and Gallery from Simple tools. I also replaced the default Camera app with the Nikita option and the launcher with Nova

All of the rest of your post seems almost ‘de rigueur’ sadly but apart from charging issues down to my 12V system and the low vol on WhatsApp all seems fine 6 months down the line.

And as for cost, well I’m not really paying the price, doubling the price may be more realistic for the Fairtrade side of things as long as there wasn’t this embarrassing support issue :frowning:

It’s a trade off, probably, among what you’d like to do and what you can do.

Having the fairest phone at a price that nobody could afford to pay would probably be useless.

Ciao,
Max

1 Like

Yes pointless is my goal :slight_smile:
Oops! going off topic Ethics are but a joke for the rich

Regarding preinstalled Google apps: AFAIK, that’s mandatory to receive Google Certification. Otherwhise, Fairphone wouldn’t have received the certification and thus a lot of banking apps, netflix and so on wouldn’t work. (please correct me if I am wrong)
But I don’t like this Google bloatware either and therefore switched to LineageOS :smile:

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This is the first time I see Google Photo preinstalled, the same for the file manager or the phone app. I don’t think there is any certification process involved. However, this is not my daily job so I could be wrong.

Ciao,
Max

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Maybe companies like Samsung can make their own apps and have them certified by Google as alternatives, whilst Fairphone do not have the resources to do that.

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Comes with Google apps
We verify that the Google apps pre-installed on your device are authentic and can work as intended. This includes your favorite Google apps such as YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Chrome, and Google Search.

Source: Android – Certified

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I had only one random reboot in four months so far, and have both SIM cards in LTE mode.

But as a regular forum reader, I was warned beforehand that the “Enhanced 4G LTE mode” (see Settings – Network and Internet – Mobile network) is error-prone so I disabled it on both SIM cards right at the beginning.

When I look at the description, the option seems to enable VoLTE. I can live without VoLTE and with a phone falling back to 2G during calls as calls are very rare in my case.

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I had “Enhanced 4G LTE mode” disabled on both SIMs and I had reboots.

I only found two ways to stop them:

  1. Using only one SIM. No matter what slot I insert it into. One SIM, no reboots.

  2. Having both SIMs in the phone but only one in 4G. This is my preferred workaround as it let me use two SIMs.

I think there is some HW problem in my phone, I’d like to test with another FP3 and see what happens.

Ciao,
Max

2 Likes

In my fp3+ no reboots ever - i switched to /e/ From the beginning and i am very happy with it despite the fact that i am limited to open source, which is very fine for me. Maybe this is a Problem if googled stock rom?

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FP3+ for six months, not a single reboot using stock A10 updated as available.

1 Like