Unfortunately, the Fairphone 2 I received leaves me much less impressed than I had hoped for.
Among the positive aspects are definitely the display quality, the sturdy overall appearance and the fast and (almost) flawless usage experience. The touchscreen- and display-flickering bugs were noticeable but not grave. I assume they will soon be fixed.
Now what definitely did not impress me:
The form factor is a matter of taste but it’s not for me. It is definitely a two-handed brick of a phone without even basic one-hand usability. After hands-on I don’t like the rubber-case design decision much at all.
The camera quality in moderate cloudy conditions (like: half the year) is very slightly better than on the FP1 but still not convincing. Indoors it is so grainy as to be useless and decidedly worse than FP1 (I did side-by-side comparisons). Even outdoors it won’t replace the most basic compact camera.
The sound quality is good in depths and mid-range, but the higher range and voices sounded flat and unappealing. It doesn’t do as a music player for me. Neither does it particularly well as a sound recorder.
Taking off the screen didn’t work for me, following the instructions. No amount of pushing would make it move. Thus I can’t judge on the modularity concept.
Rooting is by now possible, but much easier e.g. on Samsung phones. Without I can’t even write to a USB Stick (an Android issue, I know).
Conclusion: I am ready to accept quite an amount of tradeoff in support of the goals of Fairphone and love the fairness, openness and repairability approach. Even for just supporting Fairphone on the way I would accept a lot of woe. I am willing to pay the 40%/60% premium compared to e.g. a S. Galaxy S5 or S4 (both can run CyanogenMod btw). If, let’s say, the core functions of the Galaxy could be graded “A” and the Farphone scores “B”, as with the display, just fine. But camera and sound score “C” at most. A more careful selection of sound and camera chip probably wouldn’t have raised the price by more than 25€. If one device replaces three or more standalone devices (phone, music player, photo, dictaphone) this is quite a sustainability factor and might outweigh the Fairphone’s current sustainability benefits.
I am very sorry, and it really pains me, but I will make use of the return policy rather than becoming an unhappy supporter. I will stay with my FP1 (that I planned to pass on) and make it last as long as at all possible.
All this is not saying that many people might be just happy with this device. It is my personal usage profile that doesn’t align with this phone.