First impressions Fairphone 2

Here is my short review and it is unfortunately not positive. I compare it with the S5, which I use now since nearly 2 years.

Plus:
• it’s fair
• it’s modular (that is really really cool, the greates + of all)
• two SIM cards
• packaging is really nice, delivery is quick
• crowdfounded

Minus:
• boots much slower than S5

• SDcard slot is a traumatic experience - already killed a 128GB disk completely (no reformat possible anymore, hardware damaged). The two little plastic bumps practically make it impossible to remove the SDcard without breaking a fingernail (or the card) or using a piece of paper to make it slide over.

• the navigation bar (back/home/active apps) uses part of of the screen in all applications - in the S5 this is below the screen - in most other modern phones you can at least hide the navigation bar, not in the FP2 - so this makes the screen much smaller. I’m using the phone several hours a day for practically everything - as most of the people. Why does it reduce the screen size when other phones don’t?

• the camera is bad - i already did not use the FP1 because of the camera quality, many people complained it and now the FP2 again has a bad camera.I will not carry a separate camera with me to make pictures - that camera is not produced fair and I don’t want another device. So in order to make good pictures I will carry the S5 instead of the FP2.

• it’s not rooted - why? why? why? - and: why? - this defies the whole idea of the user taking ownership and control of her/his device and data. The FP1 came rooted and that to me was a extremly cool and positive signal. Why was this signal not re-inforced? This is a huge step back, honestly. Any fumbling around with later rooting manually is something that most of the users will not be able to do. For me the FP-concept was important to support for two reasons: fair & open - but in reality now only fair is left.

• no NFC - also leaves me a bit speechless. Yes, it will come as a later module, etc - but my NFC lock is working already now (with the S5) and I also pay with the phone. Guys, NFC is not a cool nice-to-have toy, it is state of the art and it is missing in FP2!

In summary - this would be an ok first try. But it is the second version. It did not get the needed upgrades (camera), it did not follow the normal development (NFC) and it made deliberate steps back from FP1 (not rooted, SDcard slot). The modularity is just great and I really hope it will allow me to replace the not so good modules (cam, screen) with better ones soon. That it comes not rooted is a political statement which I find hard to digest.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of the FP, I’m all enthusiastic about it (the idea), but the real phone loses when compared to other phones of the same category.

I will not use the FP2 for now, I will keep it as a backup if my S5 ever breaks or if things will get better.

Cheers,
Georg

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Can you remove/hide the physical button on your iPhone? :wink: I guess you will be able to tweak the navigation bar and hide it with Gravity Box. Unfortunately you need root access for Gravity Box and the Xposed Framework.

It is not rooted because Fairphone thinks that most people expect their phones not to reject banking apps (at least this is what I interpret). Since most banking apps don’t work, if the user has root access, they chose to ship unrooted. They promised to release a guide, how to root your FP2 as soon as possible. Until then you can follow the discussion here:

https://forum.fairphone.com/t/fp2-root-or-not-root-how/11495?source_topic_id=11491

I would never pay with my phone. Even more so as it is an Android phone and I think one can say that Android phones generally are more insecure than iPhones. Also in Austria ATM cards have NFC functionality, so no need for NFC on my phone here…

A quick online search did not reveal any reliable statistics on NFC usage, only some industry lead studies, which don’t seem objective. I’d really like to see numbers of how many people are actually using NFC for paying. (I don’t consider pairing to a Bluetooth device via NFC crucial for a phone. You can pair as easily through Bluetooth itself.)

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In addition, in my view:

Guys, NFC is not a cool nice-to-have toy, it is state of the art and it is missing in FP2!

Lot of people don’t agree with this. Most manufacturers integrated this very fast in their devices because it was a cool toy; now a fair part of models come out without it, because applications are just not widely used and not breaking through. I believe quite few people pay with it (despite the hard-to-believe security issues, but that’s another topic), and just using it to avoid typing a 4 digits number or getting a key out of your pocket is mostly gadget for a lot of people… At least does not justify the waste resulting in including it.
On my part I am really happy this is not included in the phone, as I don’t have the impression to pay for a nice-to-have toy…

boots much slower than S5
impossible to remove the SDcard without breaking a fingernail

How many times do you boot your phone a day and how often do you remove your sd card ? Most people I know put their card in their phone when they buy it, then transfer files by USB and remove the card only when they change phone…

Don’t want to sound annoying, but I think sustainability is also about thinking Minimum Features and leave out some of the nice-to-have unused stuff… Trying to create a “reasonable high-tech” based on most important needs and real innovation gaps.

I agree with the need of a root guide though, as the “open” part of the fairphone is important. However I don’t see why it should be delivered rooted: 99% of phone users don’t care about root and will never use it (even worse, they might grant root access to malicious apps by ignorance), and power-users wanting root are advanced enough to root it themselves with a basic guide. As it’s usually entering 2 commands in a prompt…
Real question is related to the warranty, let’s see what this guide states about that!

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You can give back your Fairphone 2 within 14 days, if you are very unhappy with it.

But you can also contact support and ask if your issues will be solved soon.

Can I ask why you bought it? Lack of NFC was known about for a long time and the camera module has been well publicised as well. None of this should really be a suprise. As to Root, I don’t think it should be by default, it isn’t something that an average user should have by default. Plus there are many apps that people use that don’t work on a rooted phone (bank apps, coorporate email etc). I can remove my SD card OK, maybe there is a fault with yours?

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I got mine the 31st, also without a mail for a heads-up (#6xxx, black translucent case) :smiley:.

My kids called me at work so of course I went home for lunch in order to see the goodies. We did have fun with the paper model before so everyone was excited about it :smile:

I like the case it came in. Very slim. It was surprising that the infamous back cover was hidden a bit and not assembled yet. A first taste in owning the phone I guess ;-).

I do like the camera. I come from a 3 year old Samsung Xcover. Compared to that, the camera is amazing. High res and very detailed.

4G is working fine. I do notice that it regularly switches bands to H+ or even lower even when standing still. Could be due to the local cell usage though.

I haven’t been able to open it up yet. The screen is hard to take off (as also reported in FP2: Teardown & Reassemble Competition!) so I’ll have to give it some more tries and massages :laughing:

GPS seemed very quick to fix. A lot quicker than on the Samsung anyway.

I didn’t notice any problems with the touchscreen. But it might be I rebooted to quickly to notice it :wink:

That’s it for now. Waiting until I could restore my contacts which is the main thing I need to restore. Then, I can wait until the rooting manual is out and try to restore other stuff as well.

And yes, my main negative points are that the phone is not pre-rooted and that the recovery mode is making it difficult to flash SuperSU to the phone.

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I am not trying to defend the FP2 (which I love for now btw), but I think your review is a tad bit fallacious

boots much slower than S5

Bootup time is not an important factor in mobile phones (provided it does not last one hour). You might have a point with a laptop but on a phone ? You don’t boot it all that much anyway, so what difference may it make if it boots in 25 or 40 secs ?

SDcard slot is a traumatic experience […]

SD cards (and especially high capacity SD cards as I found out) are often fragile. Until you know for sure it was the FP2 that broke it I cannot think you can blame that on it. The SD card slot is weird, I’ll give you that.

the navigation bar (back/home/active apps) uses part of of the screen in all applications […]

That’s something that has bugged me out too. That said hiding it is a software problem.

it’s not rooted - why? why? why? - and: why? […]

That I agree on 100%. I’ll even add that having GApps by default - which you all probably know are very, very hard to remove entirely without flashing another ROM - also defeats the “open” aspect of the phone. I was really impressed when I heard the FP1 proposed to install GApps from the updater module. Here ? Not so much.

no NFC - also leaves me a bit speechless. […]

It’s a toy, it costs money, battery lifetime, design time and adds to the phone’s volume. Most of us don’t want it (I actually want it out of my phone. Forever.) but it’s proposed to add it as an additional module. What more do you want ?

It did not get the needed upgrades (camera),

It did, but your expectations (rightfully) increased in the same time. I personally find it pretty good (coming from a Huawei Honor 3X, which had a higher resolution but just ended up noisier).

It seems like you expected a flagship device from a semi-associative company that focuses on ethical issues overall. I’m sad you are disssatisfied by your purchase, but all that was announced eons ago… You still have time to return it (though you might be better off selling it to someone who wants a spare to make custom ROMs without damaging their phone).

(That said, using TouchWiz ? Eeeeeeh)

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Probably you have a really high expectation on a smartphone camera…
FP1 can make this:

Concerning the question whether it’s a disadvantage or not to have a pre-rooted phone: I am actually glad that it doesn’t come pre-rooted, to be perfectly honest. I for instance don’t have any experience with rooted phones so far. I’d be very interested to learn more about the topic but right now I don’t consider myself advanced enough to deal with that and I’m sure I’m not the only fairphone user who is like that. So maybe it’s all about satisfying as many types of users as possible, which is most probably not easy as a small non-profit organisation.

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This is pretty much standard android behaviour.

There are a lot of discussions here in the forum about this. In summary, as i understand, this is to make life easier and the phone more secure for regular users. Installing root is pretty easy to install for everybody who needs and wants it (and you should be an advanced user to install root, imho). On the other hand, removing root would have been much harder for regular users.

That is a fair point. But a personal opinion. I guess it is the same with camera: A better camera modules would not ne nessecary have to be a lot more expensive, but add a little bit here (camera, then lens) and there (nfc) and suddenly it’s 600€ for the Fairphone 2.

Anyway, thanks for sharing! :thumbsup:

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It seems I was a bit excited when typing this, so a clarification to clear up any misunderstanding:

The back cover is delivered with the phone, it’s just not put on it yet. It’s included in the case in which the FP2 is deliver, you have to open it up further. Sorry I can’t explain it better, but I was looking at the phone when my daughter all of the sudden handed the back cover to me :grin:.

So, the first step for me was to put the back cover on the phone (‘assemble’).

@Hooloovoo That’s a fair observation. I’m eagerly waiting for the official instructions to root is myself since I can’t just throw the SuperSU at it in recovery mode.

I disagree. It’s an optional luxury. I’m not aware of a single use for NFC that makes it appealing. What would you use for?

This is the standard behaviour for Android. Samsung is one of the last manufacturers handing onto phyiscal keys. The navigation bar here works in the same way as the 5 Android phones I’ve seen in the last few weeks.

Because for the vast, vast majority of users being rooted would be a negative not a plus, and the few who require rooting should have knowledge of how to do it.

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My first impressions.

Unpacking and assembly

The box is very nice - a white, textured cardboard with a blue ‘open me’ ribbon.

The back cover wasn’t on, and I couldn’t find it at first (it was hiding at the bottom of the box). It was very difficult to get the cover on properly - each of the 4 corners in particular.

As such, I haven’t tried disassembling it yet. I’ll probably give it a go next weekend.

Look
It looks fantastic. It looks a lot better than I’d expected, based on photos and reviews throughout the web. The gentle curve on the back hides how thick the phone is.

I’ve got the transparent back cover which is absolutely fantastic. Again, this is significantly more beautiful than I’d hoped. I’ve only had it a few days, but it’s been a big talking point when people have noticed it.

Feel

It certainly feels a lot thicker than my husband’s Nexus 6, but it still feels nice in the hand. The back cover feels very slightly soft, which is nice.

The buttons were a little stiff at first, but after a couple of presses now have a really nice feel when pressing in.

Screen

The screen is crisp and clear, colours are great as are the details.

There’s a significant flicker when the screen is on the lowest brightness setting, which I’m hoping is a software issue. Also, the difference between the lowest brightness and the next up is huge - in some light I’m struggling to get comfortable as one is too dark and the other too bright.

I’ve noticed one touchscreen issue - when scrolling, the screen will often jump all over the place. It hasn’t affected usability at all, but it’s a little offputting.

Camera

The camera is a huge disappointment. I like taking photos, and neither camera is up to the job really. The front camera is so bad it might as well not exist. It’s such poor quality that I’d rather it was left out and the money spent on a better quality rear camera. I haven’t been able to take a single good photo yet.

Colours are a little washed-out, there’s a lot of noise, the camera is slow to work (so photos are sometimes blurred) and I often struggle to focus. I’ll get some examples later.

I’m aware that many camera issues are software so perhaps there might be an update to help in the future. Either that or a module upgrade at some point - I think I might have to buy myself a digital camera to compensate for the poor phone camera, which is disappointing.

Software

I wasn’t sure on the launcher at first. I’ve come from Windows Phone, which has very straight forward start screen, and the Android experience was a little more complicated. I tried installing a couple of alternatives - Google Now and Microsoft Arrow - but realised that I preferred the FP default. After a few days use I really like it.

I love the lock screen, being able to tap between clock, peace of mind, battery and time of ownership is really nice.

I’d guess the majority of users will only use one sim, so the prominance of dual-sim in the software is annoying. There’s a huge ugly greyed-out sim icon in the taskbar, and on the lock screen there’s a scrolling text in the top-left saying ‘No sim card’. I hope a software update will get rid of these.

Battery

So far so good. I spent the whole day out with friends yesterday and used my phone for maps and photos quite often. I also listened to music and browsed the web for a total of 3 hours on the train there and back. When I got home my battery level was 48% which I was chuffed with. I thought it might not last all day so took a portable batter pack out with me - but it was not needed at all.

Overall

I love it. There are a couple of minor annoyances but on the whole I’m really chuffed. I can’t wait to keep on using it and exploring more things. And showing it off - of course.

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Thanks a lot for this report!!!

Some follow-up discussions: :slight_smile:

https://forum.fairphone.com/t/screen-flickers-at-low-brightness-fix-planned-for-future-update/11577?source_topic_id=11491
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Thanks @Stefan!

How about a wiki with known software issues? So if I (or another FP2 owner) encounters such a problem, I don’t need to disturb support because the Fairphone team is already informed and works on an update.

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Isn’t that what the Bug Reports category is for?

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Oh. There is already a thread with known bugs.

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