You got me completely wrong. My intention is not to write an angry diatribe, my experience just illustrates some of the problems that many people are encountering with FP. But this is not about me or you - a product that only computer geeks who like fiddling around with a smartphone (but are fine with worse-than-average hardware, which narrows the target quite a bit) and activists who have money to spend (are fine with worse-than-average hardware) is not going to change anything, because there are just not enough people.
Sure, it can make you individually feel better every day when you think you are changing the world by having a FP and get less angry when it crashes again, but it won’t change the industry nor make a significant impact. This is what I am talking about, because I am really concerned about the sustainability problems of this industry (and others), and would like to see a real change happening.
Your message is just what I expected, a proud FP fan feeling offended and blaming people for not paying more for a worse product and saying that it’s not really worse (maybe you haven’t tried something else for a while or your knowledge in software engineering lets you improve the device performance).
The truth is that still nowadays I talk about Fairphone and meet many people who don’t know what I am talking about, and very rarely I see a FP around. Is this a real impact? I don’t think so…
About the product, I don’t know why I need RAM for, but I do know that my FP2 (when it worked) performed pretty badly compared to other people’s phones (and not compared to a 1000€ Samsung, but to devices cheaper than FP2). It got stuck quite often with some apps, it restarted suddenly for no apparent reason, the battery didn’t last much and it often went from 20% to 0% in a few minutes, I had problems using the camera during a customer service call I needed to do to get a debit card (and turning on the torch caused the call to end)… So the performance is pretty poor and it’s also not reliable. When my FP2 broke I used as an emergency phone an old Samsung S III - its performace was worse (but not so much worse) and it’s OS was not compatible with some apps, but it still worked. Therefore, I can say that FP2 is objectively a bad product, I don’t even need to check the specs.
You don’t need to be a geek who needs stupid tech gimmicks to find user experience better with any other phone - just be objective.
The claim is that a FP lasts longer than any other phone because it’s more durable and it’s repairable. The truth is that it’s less reliable than other phones, and other phones are repairable too. Sure, you can’t disassemble them at home, but you can take them to a shop in your city and they will do it there, not taking more time than what you would need to receive the FP parts you need and doing it yourself (sure, this can be more fun for some people).
Second, a smartphone is not a garment, or a washing machine - in 4-5 years’ time the hardware becomes obsolete (you will have problems in running some apps, performance problems, not enough memory…), prompting the user to change a device, even if it’s working. This is why upgradeabilty is key if you really want to make a smartphone circular. I accept that making a phone retrofitable may be a very difficult mission (I don’t know why because I don’t know the technicalities of this industry, and I honestly don’t see the reason why it is impossible to design new components so that they fit in the same space that the old ones they replace), but then you should offer hardware upgrades as Shiftphone is doing (give me back your old phone and for 100€ or so you can get a new one). Then FP would be 1) more sustainable and 2) not more expensive than its alternatives.
Upgradeability /retrofitability is not a stupid or crazy demand as you are implying - it’s not asking a phone to fly. It is the main thing we should ask to a circular phone. You tell me there were upgrades: a new camera (which I already mentioned) and the slim case. Are you serious? This doesn’t improve the phone performance nor prevent its obsolescence (the camera can help a bit, but it’s pretty mediocre anyway).
Let me finish with a remark on the working conditions and fair trade issue. As I said in my initial message, this was not the reason why I bought a FP2, because there is no way I can know if this claim is true. Anyway, for Western European standards, the miners who source minerals for FP components also have shitty jobs with a shitty salary - and mines are usually shitty places to work anyway. Workers in the Chinese factories that produce its components have 65-hour-weeks, as this is the legal working week in China - their work-life balance and their purchasing power is shit compared to that of a middle-class northern European (like most people who write here or own a FP). This is why issues like sustainability, working conditions, etc. should be tackled in international policy instruments such as trade agreements, but one should not blame the consumer for not buying a worse product for more money, because most consumers are not rich and need this money for something else.
Anyway, if you want this to work, you really need to make the device more reliable AND upgradeable - even if you can’t disassemble it at home, which is not really needed.
As for the distribution, I am pretty sure there are ways of selling it in a real shop so people can buy it right away, and also get to know it. As I said, in the real world, not many people know what Fairphone is.