How I feel about my Fairphone 4 two years later (compared to my old one)

About two years ago my old smartphone became unusable because of old age.

It was the first smartphone I owned and I loved it.

It was an LG G4 and by having a detachable battery it was already a dying breed at the time it came out.

Now at this time, the Fairphone was the only smartphone that fitted at least some of my requirements. But looking at reviews I had some doubts. Lacking alternatives, I chose the Fairphone 4. And I decided to wait before I made a review to see how it compares with my old G4 so I would not let nostalgia cloud my judgement.

Now, the biggest advantage of the Fairphone 4 over the LG G4 is the speed. Naturally. So many years have gone by, of course it had to have become faster. Since I have no comparison to other smartphones I consider it decent. So a plus on that side.

The camera was a disappointment. It was faster, yes, but at the same time I liked the old camera app better. It allowed me better manual adjustments and reuse it. I was not able to reuse the manual settings in the new app. I had to purchase a separate app to make up for the disadvantage. That being said: The recent Fairphone upgrade made a huge difference! There are still some problems, but the good now outweights the bad by far. It should have come earlier however.

At that point the advantages end.

Now for the disadvantages.

The missing audio jack is a big step back. Now, I know that having one is not industry standard anymore, but I don’t think you should follow a bad standard! At least I thought maybe target customers who (among others) would buy a phone for its exchangable battery would be more conservative than the usual customer. I guess not. In practice, I had to purchase two dongles. (one for work, one for home) At least one of whom already seems to fail, disconnecting at random times. I am still testing if the same happens to the second one, so I don’t know what is at fault here. Besides that: USB-C at the bottom was never robust to begin with and I can’t fit it anywhere when I’m walking, only when I’m stationary.

Then there is a minor problem: GPS signals are less reliable than with my old phone. It was really a problem when I used it in my car, but I have since purchased a mount that keeps it close enough to the window that it works. Again something I had to buy to make it work. But at least it works now.

My biggest grief with the Fairphone 4 is the lack of a status LED. Now, for the audio plug I can at least understand a little bit why it was removed for space (even though the F4 is much bulkier than the G4 was) but why the status LED? To this day, this lack is getting on my nerves daily. Before, I simply had a look at my phone and knew if I had something to do. Now, every time after I let it out of my sight I have to pick it up and activate it to see if something needed my attention. It got so annoying that I now carry it with me even if I have to get tea or go to the bathroom. It feels like I have now finally become a slave to my smartphone. I have read that there are apps that emulate it on the screen, but that is only viable on an OLED display, and the F4 doesn’t have one.

My old G4 had two SIM slots. The F4 has only one. But there’s the ESIM you might say. And that is true. I now use it. It drains the power now twice as fast but I have read that that may be the case for all Android phones. I don’t know. My problem was that it took a full month until I found a provider who actually sold ESIMs that would work on a Fairphone. That one was not someone I would have chosen, really not! But I don’t have little choice it seems. With a normal SIM I could have chosen anybody I wanted. A downgrade if you ask me.

And finally, the form factor. I consider it awful. Why? I picked it up, tried to type something and it tipped over. I was able to use the G4 (which had 16:9) with one hand without problems. Now I have to use two hands. What I don’t get is what advantage there is by making them narrower. I talked to people at work about that. I wondered if I was the only one who considered it a bad thing. Not at all. Some thought it was for being able to watch widescreen movies. But then they had to admit that for movies they use their tablets, which, ironically, are still mostly 16:9.

Now I realize that this new aspect ratio seems to have become industry standard. And I now have a work phone that is much smaller than the Fairphone and that one really fits well into my hand. But for the larger Fairphone, I think it was a bad choice. Again: If an industry standard is bad, don’t follow it!

Bottom line: I will continue to use the Fairphone 4. I considered upgrading to a Fairphone 5 in order to get the OLED screen but that would cost me a lot of money and would defeat the original purpose of a repairable, long term use phone to begin with.

I consider it usable, but its drawbacks still get on my nerves every day and I still wish I could have kept my old one longer. Some things got better over time (the camera for example) but others didn’t.


For reference … which one?

Yeah it’s been a rocky road, having this (IMO) subpar phone for two years.

I bought it for the 5 year warranty, 4 years of updates and of course the fair aspect. Also, Google Pixel devices weren’t sold in my country at the time.

Two years later, people can barely hear what I’m saying over the phone, the camera is atrocious compared to other 2022 phones at half price and randomly stops working until I reboot the phone, the battery randomly depletes itself rapidly over night and the battery settings don’t give an indication of why this happened at all.

The charge port has gotten a bit wonky and phone loads slower as a result until I replug the charger.

Pixels are now sold in my country so I doubt my next phone will be a Fairphone. In fact, a part of me wants to dump this phone and get something that actually works.

My workphone is an IPhone SE. I didn’t ask for it, I almost never use it.
Also, its size would be much too small for me for a personal phone.

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I never had any issues with the operational aspect of the Fairphone 4.
Except for the dongle problem I have (of which I am not yet sure where the cause is) the Fairphone works like designed. I have yet to encounter any of the other problems discussed here on the forum.
My only problem is the design itself.
And the Pixel was off my list of potential alternatives very quickly. With all the problems I have, the Fairphone is still the better alternative to me.

I also own it for 2 years now… I would mostly agree with your points, especially the GPS (for me the worst part of Fairphone 4, very unreliable and unstable) and the camera. Fairphone could be truly delivering their mission’s goal if there was a way to replace the current camera module with a real hardware upgrade and if possible the same for the GPS. Other than that I am a very happy owner I would say.

They just improved the software right now, which is a big step forward and the best way to fulfill the mission instead of producing more camera modules for the trash bin. The hardware is perfectly fine, as it is.


This should not generally be the case and I can’t confirm this for my use case. But there are some issues with battery drain when using 5G under certain conditions. If 5G is on, try turning it off and see if that improves battery life. Except in rare situations, you should not even notice a difference when using 4G instead.

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I hate my Fairphone every day. Every day there is something wrong. Now it doesn’t charge up unless I restart it. Plug in. Plug out. Plug in. Or it was the camera being rubbish. Or not seeing who was ringing me. Or the volume playing up. But heh ho, it’s better for the planet so then we have to swap performance for a liveable planet.

I could live with the performance being worse on my FP4 compared to a phone in the same price class.

What I can’t live with is everything else you’ve listed,

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If your phone determined when you had to do what, then you already were a slave to your phone regardless of the presence of an led.

For me personally, the lack of a status led is a blessing. They annoy the hell outa me. I check my phone when I want to, when I actively decide to, not when it decides to bug me. I do the same with email, IMs, and everything else. I also have deactivated the notification service on my pc. I decide my schedule, I own my time, not a notification.


I have now also owned the FP4 for two years. I am pretty happy with it. But I never used the stock OS, been using CalyxOS from day one. So I can’t say anything about the stock experience.

The most annoying thing for me was the random dimming bug last summer that took like 9 months to get fixed (which was a vendor bug and independent of the OS). Back then, I was on the brink of getting rid of the FP4. I also really don’t like their slow update cycle. So yeah, software-wise, FP really needs to step up their game. I mean this really with the best of intentions.

If you’re listening FP: spend less on marketing and more on better soft dev! (srsly, the fairbuds day-one brick update should have been their last wake up call, no amount of expensive marketing can mitigate that faux-pas).

Hardware-wise it’s perfectly fine and capable. It handles everything I throw at it. The camera is also fine, even without the new update (which doesn’t work on calyx). Phone camera hardware is as good as it gets (there is a physical limit on what you can do with these small lenses), the image “quality” is literally faked through a lot of software processing.

It’s a phone, a fair phone, built ethically to be sustainable and repairable. And for me, it does what it’s supposed to well.


Thank you for that suggestion.
I will try it.

I am using the FP4 since day one and have watched my spouse using the FP3 which she bought around its release.
I was disappointed by the lack of the LED and the audio jack, but the missing LED quickly became a noissue. I just don’t care anymore. The audio jack is something else, a long story, but in the end not a dealbreaker.
I have no real issues in day to day usage, even the performance is still good.
The problems I see are all caused by software, but even there the FP4 performs much better than the FP3, which by now is more or less unusable today.
But I have to admit, that this is mostly an Android issue. I use Android based phones since Android 2 and see this system going down all the way. Especially all the pseudo security is a constant pain. Here, fairphone can’t do anything, since they have to provide a phone with Android and especially a Google certified Android (security, you know).

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