Fairphone prioritizes "Edge" over 3G / HSDPA

Problem summery: Fairphone chooses the slower “2.5G” / E over the faster H / H+ network even though both are available with the roughly same reception / coverage quality.

Workaround: “turn of” the 2G network. The phone will search for a few moments and then connects to the H / H+ network. A drawback is that there exist places where 3G/HSDPA really is unavailable so one will obviously not have any connection in those places.

This is a problem that I have noticed regularly and that reproduces reliably. I have a couple of “test places” where I know the fairphone will switch to Edge even though 3G is available. Using the workaround described above I can then force it to switch back. I have also checked these places with other android phones and an old iPhone. All of these work as expected: stay with the faster network.

In light of this it would be interesting to take a look at the code that decides when to switch network. It may need some work.

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Could it be that your phone’s H/H+ reception just isn’t that good?

When I swith-on mobile network I usually get the “H+” right away. Only when I’m in a place with poor reception - like a basement - I get the “E”.

Maybe the fairphone preferrs Edge over H+ if the H+ reception is very bad, because a slow connection is better than one that’s always cut off.

As I wrote in my original post:

Then I have of course not analyzed the signal of the 3G network (would be interesting to know if there are any tools to do that… maybe simply let the phone write a log for the signal strength and network type?). There is a possibility it may be faulty or cut of. Though, as I wrote, I face this problem while other phones stay with the faster network. And H / H+ usually work flawless once I force the usage, which is the original reason I started wondering about this.

Do you know anyone else with a fairphone in your area? Would be interesting to know if they can reproduce that problem in your test places.

I actually do. I’ll see if I can borrow the phone and check! But it appears I’m the only one with these troubles on the forum? One possible explanation would be that the FP has poorer reception than the other phones I checked with, which could cause an unstable 3G connection which in turn would trigger the phone to use another network… thoughts? Any experience on Fairphones reception compared to other phones?

that’s actually what I was trying to say in my first reply but I didn’t articulate well

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In my experience it’s not FP specific. I have a weekend cottage where reception is poor (a few kilometers from the nearest mast). At the ground floor the phone is often stuck on 2G/Edge, but sometimes jumps to 3G. It was exactly the same with my old HTC, and also the USB modem I use for my PC. When staying there I solve the issue by disabling 3G altogether on the phone and setting up a WLAN using my USB modem (3G/4G) and a router upstairs where reception is better.
There are also spots where I experience what @paugre describes, and then I solve it by choosing 3G only. And yes, this means that I must remember to change settings when in areas with a very weak or non-existent 3G signal.

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I’ve moved this to the help category because it’s not looking like a bug at this point.

I’ve experienced the issue once myself, but that’s was when I was in a bad signal area and it wouldn’t go back to 3G immediately when I moved out. I didn’t do anything to rectify it, it fixed itself some hours later.

Thanks @paugre, so it’s not only me with a 3G problem with my Fairphone! My poor network reception prompted me to make a suggestion to FP (on the old forums) that they should add a 4G motherboard to their list of replacement parts for the FP1. This would surely expand the lifespan of FPs (= great for the environment!). I understand that for a number hardware & software reasons this is not at all easy. But then again, nor is building a phone from scratch. Anyway, back on topic:
I travel to and from work along the same train line every day with my FP and normally I use an app that requires constant connectivity (it indicates when it’s dropped off). The coverage is pretty poor, or at least I thought so. Then I tried what @paugre suggested (i.e. turned off 2G) and while there were still places where the connectivity momentarily drops off, in general, the connectivity is now loads better.
I thought that it was just because they are not expanding the 3G networks any longer i.e. I’d need to go to a 4G phone soon. However, this has given me renewed hope that I can keep my FP1 for much longer. I think that this should be investigated further by Fairphone. Because if it is something that can be rectified by a software fix, then this would greatly improve the FP user experience for everyone!


I flagged this up to the FP team, to see if something can be done about the matter.

@Darren_Smith Good to know I’m not the only one with these kind of problems.

@Stefan Thanks!

also my FP likes Edge more than Hsdpa,.So an Samsung and also an Toshiba Tablet were in conditions when both Edge and Hsdpa were possible the FP often took Edge, the othesr took Hsdpa.
Now after changing "Einstellungen/Datenverbrauch “mehr”/Mobilfunknetze/3GDienst/Netzwerkeinstellungen/"Nur WCDMA"
its better!

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To translate that is:
Settings > “More…” > Mobile Networks > 3G Service > Network Mode > WCDMA only

But I don’t think that’s what @paugre wants, because if WCDMA is not available he’ll have no Internet connection at all.

Same experience with my FP1 in India. While switching between edge and hspa I lose often the connection.Maybe a software change would help…?!