I know Fairphone since the FP1 launch. I bought a FP2 as soon as I could, and received mine in January 2016. I expected it to last 5 years. Today, after 3 years and 7 months of usage, I’m replacing it with another phone.
What I liked and disliked in the product after such a long time may be of value for future Fairphone iterations, even though the FP3 is rumored to be just around the corner.
Current issues with the FP2
- screen is failing (frequent artifacts), not sure if it’s a screen module or core module issue from what I’ve read and after trying to fix it several times
- battery is failing (less than 1 day)
- primary microphone is dead (and it’s the 4th or 5th replacement I bought)
- unable to take decent photos with it, which is really annoying me
- more and more frequent random reboots (proposed fixes did not work)
- speaker phone mode is not working well and I would regularly need it
Focus on ethics and openness
Everything from conflict-free minerals to recycling initiatives and respect for the assembly line workers, as well as commitment to open-source and many other things, are the core of what makes Fairphone special to me, and to its customer base at large I think. Don’t ever compromise on this.
Long-term Android updates
Getting software and security updates years after the launch is invaluable. So much that I chose my new phone specifically among the few ones that will receive Android updates on the long term. It was a huge selling point for the FP2, and the team really delivered on this point.
While less sturdy than the FP1, my FP2 survived many shocks and falls, even after switching to a slim case (which is much better than the original case).
It’s important to me to be able to replace the parts that are the most likely to break or fail: screen, battery, speakers and microphones.
The FP2 struck a good balance in terms of price vs power/capacity for most of its components. More than 3 years later, I don’t feel limited in terms of CPU, RAM or storage for daily tasks.
IMHO the price fell into the right range for the customer base, as in “not cheap for the specs but the added ethical value is worth paying that amount”. The medium-high price spot is the right one, as low-cost or expensive flagship devices tend to appeal to different populations than the one that has interest in Fairphone’s values.
The marketing campaign around the launch of the FP2 was very good, and the partnerships established in several countries really helped spreading the word. I can buy a FP2 at a local carrier and spare parts in a popular online shop in my country.
The screen is large enough, the phone is not too bulky while remaining modular, I think the Faiphone team hit the right spot: medium size, focus on repairability rather than thinness. I’d like to see the same thing for the next Fairphone products.
Making the phone that modular is an incredible feat for such a small company. However, I think it went too far and actually hurt the product. I wouldn’t mind if replacing parts was a bit more difficult as long as it is made possible (no glue, standard screws…). But the pins system that is used for instance to connect the screen actually creates more problems than it solves. Connection issues, weird artifacts on the screen, unresponsive touchscreen, etc, until it’s cleaned up and adjusted properly. It kind of restricts the customer base to people who don’t mind opening and tinkering with the phone parts. It turns down a lot of people who are drawn to the ethical side but put off by the technical challenge. It stopped me from recommending a FP2 to less technical people, and I feel like it’s the reason why mine did not last 5 years.
Some finishing touches are lacking for user actions that are in the “critical path”, such as the problems with using the speaker phone when on a call, or the proximity sensor that regularly fails to disable the screen (even after calibration) and I often end up muting myself. These daily annoyances add up over time, and are also the first thing that other people notice when I’m using the FP2.
At least for me, a decent camera is important, and I guess it is for a lot of people. If you have young kids and want to make photos as memories, it’s important to have a decent camera at hand. Also, the social networks that are the most popular are currently centered around images and videos usually taken on the spot. Regardless of it’s a good thing or not, there is a general demand. The original camera module was very bad. The new one is a welcome upgrade, however I did not buy it because of worries I had of my phone not surviving long enough to make it worth the investment, and because the image quality did not seem very good either. The one part where providing a midlife upgrade is a really good idea IMHO, and where a future Fairphone can attract more customers.
Maybe I was unlucky, but both the primary and secondary microphones modules broke several times, without any clear reason why. I grew up tired of expecting one of them to break every few months.
I don’t hear much about the company recently. There are a lot of rumors around an FP3 but nothing confirmed yet. I would rather know more about what is happening inside Fairphone, related or unrelated to the FP3. I does not give me confidence in what Fairphone is doing lately. Compare for instance with the communication that Purism is doing around the Librem 5 phone, where they share their progress, struggles, provide detailed status updates, collect feedback, etc. I think it’s really important that the company embodies the values that its product push forward. In Fairphone today, I see the sustainability, I don’t see the openness anymore.
To sum up, the FP2 falls short of its promise IMHO but by a narrow margin. With a few tweaks, a future Fairphone could attract a much wider, sustainability-conscious user base, and I really suggest Fairphone the company to share more with the community about what happens internally. This is the path forward where everyone would win.
Although I only have a FP2 for the past 2 months I’m afraid that it will be the same scenario, has you nailed down the current issues spot on.
Do you already experience any problems?
If you don’t, then do not worry.
Mine is working fine since day one. I only suffered from the reboots cycle.
That was solved by a simple tiny plastic strip attached to the battery frame to fix the battery.
And that’s it; for more than 3 years.
Don’t fear, just because some people had bad luck and got a bad phone.
That’s what this forum is about, by the way, helping people who experience troubles. Therefore you tend to “find” such reports here more often than in real life (or so I hope, as there is no statistics to know for sure ).
Well, same here … next week my FP2 will retire and I’ve already bought a new handy, and that after using it for 2 years.
- Battery usage was always a critical stuff and I am now more and more using multimedia stuff on my handy … so the battery does not last 3/4 of day
- Then I got problems with the contacts of the camera module … I was able to repair that, but they come back and so I can not use the camera any more
- Then I got problems with the main microphone - I also assume contact problems here. Pressing the telephone helps to get the microphone working.
So the overall experience: much, much money for an average telephone
A great post. If I had gone through all the struggles you are explaining, I would have left FP2 long ago. Fortunately, all the issues I experienced so far could be solved with the help of the community.
And this is where I think you forgot one of the pros:
Helpful people, an active community, people like yourself who try it out and openly critizise what could be improved. A long list of FAQs, manuals, helpful vids.
I agree, check the thread I started about this recently here: The end of Fairphone 2
I own my Fairphone2 now for a year. It is my first smartphone because I not only wanted a device which was produced to certain ecological and social standards but where I could decide which software to use and which data to share- not the manufacturer. This aspect has been neglected in most of the discussion so far.If you want to change the OS on other phones you can only do so by using security flaws - not by official and well documented procedures.
As far as I’m concerned I had only once problems with the camera which disappeared after disassembling, cleaning the contacts and re-assembling the phone.
Having a phone where I can change the battery as well as the OS is definitely a plus and I can recommend buying a FP2.
P.S. I agree with mdupont that less secrecy with regard to FP3 would have been appropiate. Probably it would have been a good idea to discuss the new specification and design with users to see if their equirements are met.
To be honest, I happen to disagree on this point for a few reasons.
There are a few threads where users could post their wishes like FP 2/3/… Modules & Wishlist or Fairphone 3 - Wünsche
Most active users of this forum are rather experienced, tech oriented and they love to do experiments. As Fairphone has to aim more at a mass market, I don’t have the feeling, that this forum would have been the right place to discuss this topic.
I don’t think, that any such open discussion would lead to anything but frustration at one point or the other. The diverse models of the globla players are at least an indicator of the different needs and desires users have, featurewise and pricewise. Designing just one model for all will therefore always mean to compromise on some things. And if they have followed all the discussions in this forum, they sure will have learnt enough.
Finally: Marketingwise - take Apple for example - it is more sensible to organise a special event for announcing the new phone. Discussing the development in public would rather spoil this moment.
Very true! For me it’s definitely one of the reasons I’m sticking with FP, despite quite a few issues. People here (on the forum) are so friendly and helpful!
Excellent post, thank you for writing it, as it resonates with me on quite a few points.
Especially the point about the not-quite-right balance between fixability and too inaccessible for non-technical people. I’m a reasonably competent person when it comes to technology, but I would in no way describe myself as a technical person - some of the solutions suggested on this (wonderful) forum, to problems you wouldn’t expect to be too common in a widely use phone rather went over my head, or required that I go deeper into the “guts” of the phone that I was comfortable doing.
I wouldn’t want Fairphone to sacrifice the modularity of the phone - to me it is a very important part of what makes it fair - but in terms of software, I think a better balance needs to be struck, otherwise it becomes a niche product for mobile phone enthusiasts.
I’ve had mine for three years and I really resound with this description.
This is a community forum, not an official communication channel of Fairphone. Fairphone staff might occasionally read along here and engage in discussions, or they might even announce things to this community here.
The topics in question, however, were not opened by Fairphone staff.
If you don’t want to rely on occasional references to other interesting topics too much, you could for instance use the search function to perhaps find topics of your interest, or you could browse the Latest view of the forum regularly . (It even marks your last visit, so you’ll know what’s new.)
A sustainable society is also an -ism. It is just a different -ism. Apple’s -ism is partly compatible with Fairphone’s, partly not. Fairphone is leading by example. If other smartphone producers copy some of the design philosophies (modular and sustainable) then its a win regardless.
Compare it to GNU. If people use GPL software by FSF, that’s a win for FOSS. If people buy non FSF branded, free devices such as a Librem then FSF wins as their goal is to have users free from proprietary chains, free of DRM. GPL is just a tool to achieve such.
These ideals are very noble, but remember the enemy of good is perfect.
Well, I gues you misunderstood me there.
I was simply referring to marketing.
And that’s something important for every company wanting to sell something. Especially a “small” company in a big market with large competitors having to sell a really great product.
As I am no expert for marketing, I just used Apple for an example. It seems, they are making something right with that regard, as they make it into each and every newspaper with their staged announcements and strategic leaks beforehand to highten the expectation. If my memory serves me right, Samsung has successfully taken a the same path.
Sooooo, why not learn from successful competitors.
Making Fairphone a success and thereby an example for global players could be a step to a more sustainable society; even if Fairphone themselves will never sell as much phones as Apple or Samsung,
I have exactly the same experience with my phone.
FP2 user since January 2016. Experienced some (four) warranty cases throughout the years, but honestly I didn’t have a lot trouble with usability/reliability of the phone. TBH while talking to people they sometimes say the (mic.) volume is low and they cannot hear me well. Decided to stick with that.
For battery life my personal experience is 1-3 days with ~3.5 year old battery. Using another OS though (Sailfish) - still think it is worth to mention.
I’m using FP2 since February 2016. Once I had a good experience with the service that send me a new camera within warranty. And I’ve got very good experience with this forum and all the helpful people here. I can see only one big negative aspect in my FP2:
- The camera is not good enough. I’m using the second module, that is a bit better then the first one, but the quality of the pictures is far away from that of apple phones for example. I really wished there would be a third module with a really satisfying camera.
Three minor aspects I would improve:
- The slim case should last longer.
- My sensor for near field doesn’t work constant because of dust.
- The battery could be twice as strong. (I’ve got a new one that last about 2 days, the old one 1/2 day.)
Are you referring to the coloured ones (and not the transparent one)? Yours broke?
I suppose you also tried the calibration in addition to the cleaning?
I completely agree with mdupont report.
I have my FP2 since Feb 2016 and experienced more or less the same issues (although I never needed to replace anything but the slim case a couple of times). Battery has always been an issue, as well as the proximity sensor (I don’t think dust is a good explanation for the continuous malfunctioning) and speakers, which are occasionally not working. Also dual SIM feature doesn’t work properly on my devices and I finally gave up trying. Recently I’m having trouble with using FP2 as hotspot as well, but still not sure if it’s an hardware problem.
All this said, I still think FP is a great project (for all the good that you reported and for community grown around it) and I’ll be keeping my FP2 as long as I can (my wishful target is 5 years) - and hopefully at the end I will still like to buy a new FP