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Ideas for a range of FP4(+)

Hi all,

Acknowledging the following facts:

  • Fairphone now systematically proposes new improved modules for the cameras of their modular phones just a year or two after the launch,
  • people want contradictory things (some people want a cheaper phone, other high-end one; some a smaller one, some a bigger one; some with one camera only -even with no front camera- others with several cameras in the back for quality zoom and wide angle, etc…),
  • the new “range” business of Fairphone,
  • the smartphone industry adding more and more cameras and bigger and bezel-less screens,

it comes to my mind, if they want to grow and reach new customers, who still care about the environment and better working conditions, but are more picky on tech specs or such details as size and prize, they should release two Fairphone 4 at the same moment next time:

  • a smaller version (“FP4”), for those who want smaller and a cheaper one, with a middle range chipset & processor like the Snapdragon 600 series, and space for only one camera in the back only (which could be either cheaper or more high-end), mono speaker…
  • a bigger version (“FP4+”?), for those who want a bigger screen and have more money, with a higher range chipset & processor (SD700-800 series) for gaming and new apps, and space for several cameras in the back (maybe even compatible with the smaller FP4) starting with one, but available to add a second one and/or even a third one (wide angle & optical zoom), stereo speaker, etc…

It could be interesting to leave the choice of which camera they’d put to the customer before buying it, to extend the concept of modularity to its fullest. Or release them one by one every year? To keep the hype on the same phone from a year to another?

What do you think of all this?

6 Likes

It might be interesting if you could order a “bare” fairphone and then the components/modules you want (also 2 versions of the mainboard?) The price is maybe more an issue than the screen size.

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That might start to be very tricky for Fairphone. Remember Google dropped Project Ara because it was too complex…
But I think two different phones could be more easily handled.

You have some interesting ideas but I don’t like this one. “Keeping the hype” is something the big companies do and it is what is destroying our planet. Fairphone should not go along with stimulating consumers to buy new electronics each year, whether it’s complete phones or just modules. Consumers should somehow be reconditioned into using their goods (electronics, clothing, etc.) longer and mending them instead of replacing them. This might become more of a norm when more and more companies stimulate durability and repairability.

I do like the idea of buying a customised phone by selecting modules when you first buy the phone!

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Actually I must say it’s not my favorite either, even if I like the idea of improving the modules. The only things that makes me propose it is that it might’ve taken too long for them to be able to release it before, and the fact it could help some people want to keep their phone longer, but for this I would’ve loved they would’ve waited a bit longer between the release of the old and the new module like for FP2, two years in between.

Hi @Antoine,

I like you idea. I just completed that survey from Miguel. I don’t actually have a FP now, but if my current phone died and was not easily repairable I would buy a Fairphone but would be a bit disappointed that it was not as good overall as my old phone. I understand why FP are trying to hit the sweet spot of performance vs price for what they can offer and maximise sales (and longevity), and for most people that will be fine, but not for me. That’s why I like your idea, but for nothing more than selfish reasons I think!

Cheers :slightly_smiling_face:

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The idea has something, that is really catching.
But it is and always will stay a limited solution …

  • the small phone has a midrange SoC (small in any dimension :wink: )
  • the big phone has a highend SoC

So, if you want a small phone with hig-end features you are as much lost as you are, when you want a big phone but only need midrange performance or have not enough money.

Yes, it’s a bit more choice, but only a little bit.
Therfore I would consider it better to do market research (or just look, what sells best at the moment) and offer a device that is likely to be a good compromise for most customers. At least until Fairphone is big and known enough to have the manpower and money to do so.


Additional power could and should be concentrated on different devices, that are opening up new markets instead of trying to get a slightly bigger share of the market, they are already in.

  • This could (and according to statements by Fairphone will) be the US-market, that promises lots of new customers. And if they design a phone for that market, maybe they can make it work worldwide, so it can be sold in the EU as well. Still it should - in my opinion - be tailored for the US/Canadian customers and their preferences, to serve their needs.
  • Another option would be a different device like a tablet or maybe a smartwatch.

In my opinion this kind of extending the product range would promise more growth and chance for development than just two different phones.

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I’ve thought about this but found it counter intuitive, I think there is much more probability a lot more people who would want a bigger screen would also want better specs i.e. for demanding games and/or 4K-8K video, excellent photo quality… and so are ready to pay much more. In the other side, I’ve found it as logical that people who don’t care about specs would probably prefer a cheaper and smaller device for a more discreet device and in-pocket comfortable size.

I’d find it very unlikely: it’s such a niche product, and definitely not eco-friendly, tell me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s almost useless for most consumers, when added to smartphone. Unless it would replace the smartphone?

I fully agree with this :slight_smile:

They will, once they’re strong enough…

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Cheap, small smartphone. iPhone SE (NOT 2020) equiv, and still has NFC, fingerprint reader (etc etc).

Bigger, more powerful smartphone. For power users, with USB-C video out (forgot name).

I think it’s a bit too small even for a small smartphone nowadays… But a market research would solve this :wink:

The thought behind is it is supposed to be usable with one hand. This makes it, perculiarly, casual-friendly. The optimal size for one and two hand operation is a matter of debate / research.

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Depends of the hand’s size and how you put your hand… Even Apple don’t produce them anymore, do they?
EDIT : Especially, it would be tricky for such a small phone to be modular, as a modular design will take more place…

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For the fairphone organisation it is always good to look at other personal-electronic devices like e-book readers, smart watches, tablets and so on. Specially for the organisation that started the fair-phone production.

On the other hand, I donnot think FairPhone should make huge risks in effectively manufacturing these devices. The best FairPhone should do is make the modules available for manufacturers of these devices. Specially tablets can make use of the fair-phone modules.

In the extend of that: For a successor FairPhone, I’d say the best to do is to continue on the current way with FP3 and FP3+ and produce updated modules.

For physical products: I do know there are organizations and companies that donnot like the camera on a mobile phone. Produce a dummy camera module and supply a smartphone with no camera. I expect this is a very small market, however it is there and with the current setup relative easy to produce.

I was wondering how expensive is it to make a higher Hz screen for a smartphone?

I would also like to see official SFOS (due to privacy by design plus Android compatibility). Where is the ball lying regarding this?

Personally I think a lower range, mid range and a high-end FP would be perfect. If not all three, then at least mid-range and high-range. The Fairphone is relatively cheap, compared to other phones. I think many of us would be kind to the idea of paying extra for better specs! I guess this also would allow the phone to perform better in the future despite potentially heavier OS upgrades etc? Maybe this also would avoid me upgrading the cameras already after one year, as I thought the old ones were really bad.

I think a small version would be desirable. There is a shortage of small phones on the market.

However, I thing it would make sense to sell the FP3 for a prolonged time and offer modular upgrades. It would be kind of backwards from them to release a new phone every 2 years, we’re supposed to keep our fairphones for 5 years after all and the FP3 seems like a mature platform.

Another idea would be to offer an upgraded body - ie. New screen and chipset, that would accept all the modules from the FP3 so you could upgrade without having to buy a whole new phone.

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Absolutely. Upgrading RAM and/or the processor should be possible later on for those wanting to play newer games etc.

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First of, I liked the idea of upgrading the processor, but:

  • it seems to be technically impossible for now,
  • it’s the processor that’s the most polluting part of the phone. Changing it would almost be like changing 50% of the phone…

Not to mention if you have a new processor, you might later want to have better cameras, a better screen, need a bigger battery, etc… So in the end you might end up with a complete new phone every 3-4 years, partly renewing it every year… Which is not compatible with the concept of durability, is it?

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Another idea that could give them some good press would be to offer Android GO for FP3 when it becomes too slow with regular android in 4-5 years, this way we could use it for a longer time

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"Consumers should somehow be reconditioned into using their goods (electronics, clothing, etc.) longer "
maybe it could be even possible by upgrading software and giving more software tweaks and so on. (keeping your customers thinking that the product is evolving and teach the customer to a new norm that in the product gets better like a fine wine) Fp3 is pretty stable allrounder and I don’t see need for hardware upgrade for this one year old device. there is a reason why fairphone chose mid-range processor that is usually used in cars. I dont know if there is high-end qualcomm chips (long support from the manufacturer) in cars they could as well be on some other Arm chips.