I really want to love this phone, but it starts to become a bit unpractical to keep this phone. The full details are in this review (written in Dutch, but feel free to use a translation engine).
In summary I face these issues:
- Poor camera quality, especially in low light. I recently had a new kitchen installed at home and there were some minor issues. I took some pictures with my FP4 and emailed them to the kitchen specialist. Long story short, I needed to retake those pictures because it was not possible to make proper pictures with my Fairphone 4 (due to lighting conditions and sharpness of the images). They might improve the camera quality in future updates.
- Audio recordings are poor, especially in terms volume (not just Signal, the list of apps that record in low volume is growing). I can’t share videos or recordings, people cannot hear me properly. A fix might be coming soon after I reported this to FP support.
- No proper security support. FIPS-140-2 tests do not pass. Which is what I need for apps at work. Fairphone 4 has a TEE module, so it shouldn’t be a problem (no response from FP support yet).
- No persistent notifications because no LED light (would’ve been their minimum effort) or OLED with an always-on-display. It’s easy to miss notifications now about calendar events, missed calls, messages, regular app notifications that require attention. They might include an update where the lockscreen wake time can be adjusted, I reported to FP support that the ~3 second wake time is not practical. By the time you get to look at the screen the icon and text is already gone. An iPhone wakes the screen for about 10 seconds (user customizable would be best).
There are some more issues I have with this phone, but I can work around those to some degree. Now before people will say that this is not a flagship class phone, I know. And they’re still working on the camera. So it might get fixed in the long run. But to what degree is still unclear, would’ve been great if they had some blog updates about this to show their progress. I doubt the microphone will get much better, since some apps work fine according to FP support and the recorded volume is still low. Notifications are important, they allow you to interact with your phone. Missing notifications is not ideal. Unless you want to miss those, then there are do not disturb profiles, focus mode, notification snoozing, etc. So please don’t say that it’s healthy to not get notifications. In some cases it’s true. But there is a thing called work, which requires timely responses and attention. So a user needs control over this. It shouldn’t be a binary thing.
Other than that, the phone is great! They came very close to produce a phone that would actually be great to keep for 5+ years (my opinion of course). But the flaws it has have not allowed me to love this phone all the time. When I don’t need to record messages/videos, have video calls, do work or need prompt notifications, I can really love this phone.
But at the same time, yes a different phone would probably do all these things perfectly. But in turn I would hate that phone for other reasons. No fairtrade, not modular, not made as sustainable… And I would like to support a different company for once, not just Google which has issues in the privacy and open-source domain (they do more and more closed-source projects).
So I have basically 2 options:
- Keep the Fairphone 4 and hope they will fix all the issues via software updates. And maybe, just maaaaaybe release an OLED screen module (not going to happen of course). Or keep the FP4 until the FP5 is released, hoping that that phone will perform better (goes against sustainability of course).
- Or return the FP4 and buy a phone that I can use without complaints for 5 years (Pixel 6). But in that case I don’t support Fairphone to become better, if many people to do the same then this transition might never happen. When I think about that I want to keep the phone, even with all these flaws!
I’m starting this thread to get some feedback from the community. Do you share this opinion/experience? How do you deal with them? Do you consider other phones? How much do you value the goals of Fairphone when facing shortcomings with the phone that cannot be fixed?