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Goodbye FP3 with a heavy heart

I am very much dependent on my smartphone and need it for my day-to-day business.

As I wanted to support the Fairphone concept and idea I switched to FP3 when I needed a new Android smartphone, early after it was available.

As I was not sure if it could fulfill my requirements, I tested it first. A friend of mine was one of the first to get it’s hand on a FP3 in Switzerland and I found the phone capable and for my user profile.

I would describe myself as a heavy business user. My main app is an e-mail program that syncs with half a dozen accounts and currently uses 1.83 GB of storage. On the list with the most commonly used apps follow a note and collaboration app, a security app to support 2FA, a password wallet, a browser, a collection of banking, payment and cryptowallet apps and spotify.
I have no social media apps on the phone, except twitter and not a single game.

The two reasons why I quit using my FP3 are

  • performance
  • fingerprint reader

Performance
When I switch between my most used apps, I have latency times up to 2-3 seconds and startup times of 2-4 seconds. Especially apps, who require the camera seem to be slow starting up.
2-3 seconds don’t seem to be long but if I have to wait for my security apps e.g. to log in and switch between different customer accounts, it’s definitely too long.

Fingerprint Reader
The fingerprint reader at my phone fails every second attempt I try to use it generally speaking (when it doesn’t work a message appears that the sensor is dirty or the sensor doesn’t react at all). As I have my security, banking, password wallet apps etc. secured by the fingerprint sensor that’s a major drawback and adds to the relatively slow speed of the phone. I have never had similar problems with any other phone I have used in the past.

I tried to ignore the deficiencies other the last months but in the end I had to come to the conclusion, that I need a faster phone with a more reliable biometric sensor to secure my relevant apps.

I write this thread because I didn’t find anything similar when I searched the web before I ordered my FP3.

I knew that it is not a game or multimedia machine and didn’t expected that. Sadly I have to admit that the FP3 can be brought to it’s performance limit with (excessive) use of normal (business) apps too.

Even I can see the reasons of FP as a company why they don’t want to bolster the faster, higher, further trend in the smartphone market I would appreciate the development of a FP with more computing capacity and working memory.

I wish the FP project all the best for the future and would be happy to return at a later time.

PS: I know that there are several members in the forum who have critical attitudes toward points I stated above like the use of biometrics in general or in (Anroid) Smartphones and others. As I only wanted to share my experience, I wont’ react on answers regarding my way of working or if the security measures I use on my phone make sense and ask for your understanding on that topic.

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Sorry to hear you’ve been having these issues. Have you tried troubleshooting them?

I don’t know much about the fingerprint sensor (though there are a few threads on this forum from people who have had issues), but maybe I can help you with the performance issue.

If you go to Settings > Memory > Memory used by apps, which apps are your top memory users? It may be a good idea to restrict some apps from running in the background, or even consider app alternatives. My experience with slow FP2s has been that this can make a huge difference in performance.

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Hi Swiss_FP,
sorry to read that your Fairphone 3 journey ends similar to mine, although for different reasons. I also use my phone for business and absolutely need a dependable phone. Sadly the FP3 failed me after a promising start and I am also saying goodbye.

As it may be of interest for others, here are my short history & reasons: I switched from my iPhone to FP3 in November 2019. I expected the change to be harder but with the provided tutorials everything went really fine, even though it was my first time using an Android phone. I gave the process about 1,5 months and after still being happy with the FP3 then, I gave my old iPhone to my father.

But in January, my FP3 started to sometimes randomly reboot when I was in the middle of a phone call. This was bad enough with individual calls, but I actually could not take part in an important conference call b/c my phone kept rebooting and held up the whole call. No-one was ever sure if I was still on the line and mostly I was not anymore. In another conference call I could only take part after I gave out my private landline number.

I tried a bit of troubleshooting, but that was just not feasible in a running business. It is never a good time for a phone to randomly reboot and I have no client where it does not matter if a call is suddenly interrupted one or more times. I simply need a dependable phone.

Luckily my father willingly gave me back my old iPhone and everything is back to normal again. Sadly I culd not even give my FP3 to him, b/c he also needs a phone that works dependably. Maybe I will try the FP4 one day but at the moment I would rather stick to a system that I know does work.

Hope everyone else here has a better experience!
Kind regards.

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Hi Motte

Many thanks for sharing your story and sorry to hear your FP3 story. We have another FP3 in the family which behaves similar to your device but as it’s only in private use, it’s accepted so far (and we will change phones as I don’t need mine any longer and mine works fine so far).

Best wishes

You said you tried a bit of troubleshooting. I keep running into the suggestion to replace the SIM card - is that something you’ve tried?

Hi rmf

Many thanks for your hint.

As far as I got it, it’s not the storage but the working storage (RAM) which causes the performance issues. It seems like the combination of processor and RAM-elements incl. the bus elements between are the limiting factor and aren’t able to fill and manage the RAM fast enough.
This particularly applies to my mail and collaboration apps which are in permanent use so closing and reopening them all the time isn’t an option.

I have tried several solutions including analyzing the RAM-usage with different apps but finally I had to admit that in my case the hardware is the limiting factor.

Best wishes

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Hi Swiss_FP,
ach, funny to read that! Exchanging phones sounds like a good idea then. Also if I still was a student I think I would have kept the FP3 (except that I could not have afforded it) and taken it on as a project. Hope your old FP3 will work reliably for the new owner.
Best wishes to you, too!

Hi rmf,
no, I did not replace the SIM card b/c as far as I could see that had helped no-one who had tried it. My SIM card was also fairly new and had never caused any trouble, neither in my iPhone, nor in the first 1,5 months with my FP3 (nor when I went back to my iPhone).
Regardless, had I had easy access to another SIM card I still would have tried that.

What I did try and what seemed to help for a few days was taking out the storage card. I never put it back in but the rebooting resumed. I think I also rebooted and emptied some caches but the random reboots became too much of a problem in my daily work so I just went back to using a reliable phone.
Also not helpful was that after a call using headphones I would have to reboot the FP3, otherwise the sound malfunctioned (callers could not hear me, I could not hear callers or their ringtone). But with that I could have lived or tried over days, weeks and months to fix it.

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Have you contacted Fairphone over these issues? A phone starting to malfunction after a month and a half of normal use sounds like a clear warranty case to me.

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The Memory option in the Settings screen shows the working memory used by the various apps, so it can tell you which apps are using up most of the memory. Of course, if you’re forced to use certain apps for work, there isn’t much you can do about that, but lots of apps can be tweaked to use less memory - using push email in stead of pull, for instance. But as you say, if you’ve looked into it and there’s no way around your memory requirements, there isn’t much that can be done.

As to what you said about the other FP3 with the random reboots, please don’t accept this. It really shouldn’t be giving your family member these issues, and they should contact Fairphone to get it resolved. Living with a buggy phone isn’t good for the nerves, and there’s no reason for it as that’s why warranty exists. They paid for a working phone, so they have a right to one.

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Hi rmf,

yes, I am in contact with the retailer I got my FP3 from.
I think it is important that Fairphone gets this feedback, otherwise it is hard for them to know what to improve upon in further updates and models.

And unrelated but needs to be said: Great avatar!

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If your retailer can’t help you (which has been the case for some users) try to contact FP directly - they know far more about what’s repairable and what warrants replacement than a third party. It’d be a shame to not get this fixed while you’re within warranty.

vlcsnap-2019-12-05-20h38m13s669

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At the moment I am fairly optimistic about my retailer, but let’s see how it turns out. Maybe the process will be easier as I just want to return the phone and get my money back, I really am not interested in another device or a repair. If they do not want to give me the money back (I treated my phone very carefully, but you never know), they can just keep the phone.

As (I think) I said, maybe I will give the FP4 a try but for now I’ve had enough and am really cherishing my current phone.
Sorry if that sounds overly negative but it really was an unpleasant time and the few days until I got my reliable phone back were very, very long. I had to caution every collegue and every client that any call might unexpectedly break off and I would only be able to call back after my phone had rebooted. Which it often did. I have no desire whatsoever to risk repeating that.

I’ll watch from the sidelines how the next phones perform and will cheer on the idea of a fair phone (and watch a lot of Star Trek and Picard, ha!).

Kind regards!

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Sad to see you go. I have a similar usage pattern except for that I do not have to rely on the phone in my day-to-day-business. Switching between apps does not take as long as on your side (I keep most apps running in the background and use the Android 9 gestures), and so far I had no problems with my fingerprint reader.

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So it sounds like the FP3 may be more for non-business- (home)-users than for people who have to use their phones for business, conference calls etc.

Emphatically, no - the issues described above are defects and they are covered under warranty; they are not part of the standard FP3 experience.

Your phone should be able to make calls, the fingerprint sensor should function, everything should work as advertised and if it doesn’t, that’s a defect that FP is obliged to fix for you. As far as we know, the defects at issue in this thread do not occur in the vast majority of phones.

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Keep in mind, that at least more than 42 000 FP3 were sold* already in 2019.
So right now the number will likely exceed 50 000 phones.

One has to compare the number of reported errors in this forum to those sales-numbers to get a more correct picture. (And suddenly it’s no longer “such a buggy device”. :wink: )

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Well, fingerprint sensors seem to be a bit picky sometimes.

A friend of mine uses a recent Huawei phone and experiences the same issue described here. I don’t know if it helps to record the fingerprint again, weather it depends on the temperature or stickiness of the finger itself? Since they don’t record so many details of the fingerprint (according to a german IT magazine) I believe there may be some chance of not recognizing the finger as desired.

Is this with VoLTE enabled? Have you tried enabling/disabling that?

I’ve had a few times with fingerprint sensor that it would register too quick (usually under load). Also, when it said there was grease (had it the other day), then this was actually true and I could fix it by cleaning sensor + finger. What I’d do is try to re-register the finger, and/or try multiple fingers.

On the list with the most commonly used apps follow a note and collaboration app, a security app to support 2FA, a password wallet, a browser, a collection of banking, payment and cryptowallet apps and spotify.

It sounds like your device was swapping a lot, had a lot of applications open. I use also 2FA, password wallet, browser, banking app, and Spotify (I don’t use cryptocurrencies). And my device uses maybe 1.6-1.8 GB of RAM with all of that. Switching between these does not take 2-3 seconds. In fact, I can run Netflix picture in picture on top of it. So this is def. not normal behavior.

I do agree the camera application(s) are an exception to that (takes ~ 1 sec to start). Was this with the latest update of Jan 2020 or later (as this included camera fixes)? Have you tried Open Camera and/or Google Camera?

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Also from what I hear, as rather experienced heavy user this just sounds like malfunctioning devices.
Fairphone has a customer service department for cases described by both @Swiss_FP and @Motte
Directly considering the phone as unusable without even contacting for proper support sounds a little bit odd to me.

And a recommendation for the fingertip sensor: if you have issues with it remove your saved fingertip(s) and just add it again, but not once, but just do it a couple of times. You can save quite a bit of them (I only have two, one left hand finger and one right hand finger), but if you are in doubt this for sure would help.

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Thank you very much for all the hints.

As I have a masters degree in IT, work in the IT business, use smartphones since the Nokia Communicator and are an enthusiastic supporter of the Fairphone idea, you can be assured that I have tried all of them (two times factory reset, deleting and reregistering fingerprints, trying to optimize the usage of storage, replacing apps with others - as far as I could use alternatives, etc.).
Of course it could be, that I missed something but as far as I could find tips in the community I tried them.
As I stated above, we have two FP3 in the household and the fingerprint sensor of the other device works more precise but the one of my FP3 works too, unfortunately not reliable (even with clean hands). It seems like too wide production tolerances in that component, which Fairphone itself buys from a supplier.
If there are one or more hardware errors - which I doubt - they would be hard to find and I can’t spend time in explanation loops with Fairphone and why should I bother their support team chasing hard to find issues with declining satisfaction.

I think, the Fairphone idea and the products they developed so far are remarkable and still have my admiration.

All I wanted to say with my post is, that it didn’t work for me - for now - and to make thins clear once more: I presume that I represent a small fraction of heavy business users and that for the majority it will work fine.
I will be back with Fairphone and try the next generation even this could be a question of years than of months as far as I got their idea of sustainable produt cycles.

Thanks to all for your helpful tips and hints.

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