English

Hardware wish list for future Fairphones

Wotcha all. Firstly, I would like to say that what Fairphone have managed to achieve so far is magnificent and I’m full of praise for them. I have followed them from their 1st phone, and a couple of my friends have purchased them in the UK.

I don’t know how representative of the global market I am, but my purchasing of smartphones has slowed well outside the pushed upgrade cycle of every 12-24 months, since the Pixel 2 I’ve owned since 2017 still does everything I could ask. With that in mind, I would love my next phone to be a Fairphone, but realistically a couple of key hardware limitations will put me off.

Chipset

The Fairphone 3+ with it’s Snapdragon 632 chipset seemed underpowered for even web browsing, based on reviews from places like The Verge and Gsmarena. To make the purchase of a new phone compelling for me, it would have to be powerful enough to perform basic tasks well enough upon release to give me confidence that I can rely on the phone to still be capable 2-3 years into ownership.

The Pixel 2 (2017) I own uses the Snapdragon 835 chipset, which although well out of date, still has plenty of power for everything I could think of. For future Fairphones, might it be possible to use a higher end chipset, even if it were out of date? I’m thinking of the Fxtec Pro1-X, which was recently released using the Snapdragon 835 as an example of this practise here.

Camera

I know, I know, smartphone cameras are basically software algorithms squeezing the most performance possible out of small sensors, and the team at Fairphone are hardly going to be able to beat the resources that Google have.

Having said that, and I appreciate the need for backward compatibility may be an issue here, would it be possible to go for a fairly massive (for a smartphone) sensor such as OmniVision OV48C, which seems to perform so spectacularly in the Xiaomi Mi10 Ultra? Having such a large capable sensor may give the phone the best possible chance to perform without an extensive camera team. Having a great sensor to start with may come in handy with potential GCAM ports down the line.

Other than all this, I love the basic idea behind the phone, the simple to service plastic design, the headphone jack (!) etc. I’m willing to pay the premium, I just wish the hardware were that bit more compelling.

I really wonder what kind of websites they visit to make statements like this. I have no issue with any websites I visit on the Fairphone 3 so I find this somewhat confusing to hear.

5 Likes

I think the issue is more perception than performance, if anything.
Perhaps retro computing people could make a fortune by offering computing deceleration/ awareness consulting and workshops :slight_smile: .

2 Likes

Well, you’ve touched on to areas I haven’t cared about for many years - CPU power and camera. For example, my previous phone, an LG G4, was also underpowered when I bought it, but i never felt that, I also took maybe a dozen pictures max with the cameras of the LG and the FP3. When I need “just some camera”, the FP3 is quite alright, so I also have no need for the camera upgrade, When I care about image quality or the capabilities of camera or lens, I have a range of better options.

So what DO I care about? Mostly the goals Fairphone as a company subscribes to. And most importantly, I hate devices containing a battery that prevent you from replacing it. I now have two tablets and one convertible notebook in the category, I loath the day one of those batteries dies.

The single feature I expect the next Fairphone to have (and I think that will be in sync with the timetable for such a device) is 5G. When FP4 comes out, I expect 5G to have reached a coverage that begins to include the area where I live (S-Bahn range of Munich), and it might begin to become useful.