Love/hate relationship with my Fairphone 4

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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?


Happy with my FP4

I probably just have lower requirements

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Well, I don’t own a FP4. Nevertheless, I can speak a little about my FP2. the following is just a mix of my thoughts about the subject.

I went through a lot of hassle with it, as other FP2 owners probably, but probably even more. I never had a smartphone before, so I had no comparison point. The FP2 is and has been good enough for me and I just got used to having a few bugs, reboots, bad battery life. I like fiddling with it so that’s fine for me. Yet, the same as you, I also sometimes hate my FP2, e.g when I lose 20 minutes of writing an unsaved message because of a random reboot. Nevertheless, I love it for many other things.

Now, if I bought now a FP4 (which I won’t, I intend to keep my FP2 at least three more years), it would probably be a dream for me compared to my FP2. It’s just about what you await and where you come from. As that’s the single smartphone I’ve been owning, I doubt I’d be able to buy a phone from another brand.

You come from a Pixel 3 and seem to compare your FP4 a lot with it. The P3 being a rather very good phone made by the multinational developing android, I’m not too surprised some things such as the camera seem too bad for you. I just hope such bugs will get fixed. It’s not like the FP2 which has design issue that will never be solved.

I can’t tell for you what’s the most important. I’d tend to keep the phone, except if some essential features are missing, really stopping me from using it. It boils down to whether you’re ready for the little extra energy of reporting the bugs, finding workarounds aso. Of course you also have work requirements, so it may be the decisive criteria deciding you not to keep the phone

Also, if you sell your FP4 to get a FP5 when it comes out, it’s not that bad either. Who knows, I will perhaps want your FP4 in three years time :wink:

Edit: Corrected a mistake


Thanks! This was a great read and inspires me as well to just adjust to the FP4.

I’m a techie, I like to tinker as well. But a phone should always work. I had a OnePlus One before my Pixel, which always had some quirk that made life hard. Fairphone is not like that. But for me a phone should always work and it should be optional to tinker with it, not because you have to.

I know people may have started to know me as the Pixel guy. For me the Pixel 3 is just the gold standard for a phone. The first device that just works and would continue to work fine for me if it had a replaceable battery and chipset support.

I think by now the FP support people know me as well. I reported many bugs and feature requests already and their responses were positive (or just PR).

That would be cool :slight_smile: I take care of my stuff really well. My Pixel 3 is also still brand new underneath that screen protector and case.


That’s perhaps where our opinions differ. I only await from any electronic device and informatics to do the best they can in what they’re supposed to do, but not to always work out of the box. If it doesn’t work, then I prefer trying to fix it rather than just going to the neighbour who manages better because they have more money (and closed sources).


I feel like it was easily foreseeable since you expect too much from Fairphone even though I perfectly agree with you that you should not have to tinker with your phone.

I have to recognise I am negatively surprised the FP4 doesn’t pass the FIPS-140-2 tests.

(note : I have the FP3 and don’t plan to buy an FP4).

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Of course I adjusted my expectations. Pixels are in the top tier in terms of camera quality, Fairphone doesn’t have that ambition. The Fairphone however reminds me of the pictures I took with my OnePlus One from 2014 (although in a higher resolution). I wasn’t expecting Pixel quality, but I also wasn’t expecting this. Other complains are about capturing audio and visualizing notifications, which is not a premium feature on any phone. Even my dad which has a Nokia 800 can capture better audio quality. So I do compare it on a fair level. Just because a phone gives us warm feelings because of their values, doesn’t mean we cannot expect a usable phone when its released as ready for use :slight_smile:


Its no surprise to read this and my honest opinion is: I doubt you will ever be happy with this phone.

I still have the FP2 and yes it drives me crazy and I ordered the FP4, but the FP2 is still usable in my eyes , but would never be in your eyes. So also usable is a quite individual definition. I learned a lot because the FP2 is not perfect, some personal things like patience, but also a lot practical stuff, like flashing custom ROM, TWRP etc pp. So I’m still happy I bought it and therefore ordered the FP4, although the dimensions are def not my favorite, nor the fact it has no jack or LED.


I’m also still using my FP2, and only for private use, so I’d most probably not have most of your issues with FP4.
However, I’d really miss the notification LED in a potential post-FP2 model.

Btw: @UPPERCASE Thanks for the critical yet constructive summary!


Overall I tend to agree with pretty much everything you stated.

I think the installation of GCam port even if it doesn’t take advantage of the 48MP drastically improves the photo quality. And I mean it, drastically.
For the rest, I do not have the same expectations, but I do find the device a bit slow/laggy, not as snappy as I’d love it to be.
I’m convinced it’s more a matter of software optimisation rather than a hardware isssue as a device like Pixel 4A performs smoothly with nearly identical specs and CPU.

I have faith that as soon as a version of LineageOS is available, this phone will unleash its full potential. Now the question is more a matter of “when” than “if.”


I couldn’t agree more. I think that such a device that is clearly gathering passionate a community around its product - because yes Fairphone adresses a very specific type of users - lacks a channel of communication with the devs to keep us in touch.

I mean, the people who buy Fairphones have not chosen this device by default, nor because they’ve seen a generic add on TV/mall, nor to show social status, nor to own “the very best thing now”. They’ve been through a process, they’ve carefully selected a brand that fullfills what they want about the future of smartphones.
We want to know status about updates, we want to be asked what could be the next priorities, or at least for our feedback.


I think this forum provides a good channel for providing feedback and suggestions, but I agree that a blog would be useful and appreciated.

Thanks to all for these interesting comments. I almost feel as though I had one!


That’s interesting, I have no complains about the performance. It’s snappy, even better than my Pixel 3 (except for Google Maps, that runs smoother on the Pixel 3).

I don’t think most of the buyers are interested about the updates and upgrades. And people who comment the most in this forum are certainly not representative of them neither… but I can be wrong.

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From what I read here, everyone experiences issues with their Fairphone. And probably many people upgraded their FP3 camera with a hardware module when it came out. While that hardware upgrade wasn’t needed, it needed better camera software. So if you’re right about people not caring much about software upgrades, then that would be strange if you ask me.

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I have my Fairphone 4 for about a week and I am testing it for myself and for my clients, german and international NGO and social / welfare Organisations, for it’s usability as a work phone.

So far I am impressed - but I see your point. Audio recording is indeed weak, but since I and my clients all use bluetooth Headsets, or external microphones for video recording, it is a minor factor.

Low light camera quality leave a lot to be desired, but He Gcam Port does produce good results.

Notifications I agree with you, the screen should stay in longer. Personal I use a Garmin Instinct Solar GPS watch which can also work as a smartwatch for notifications if I really need them.

Long story short: Software support is still the biggest hurdle for fairphone, but with the FP4 they finally have a hardware and software foundation on which they can build something try great in my opinion.

And regarding software updates: I care a lot and for my clients security is the biggest aspect. So far security patches werde as timely as with other phones (Pixel excluded of course). I hope this continues.

I hope this helps a bit.


It’s a matter of ratio.
I have no number of course, but I you look at the activity around this community versus the little propagation of the device. I mean I’ve litterally never met anyone with a fairphone in France, neither have I seen any advertisement for it. Yet the french community of this forum is far more active than, say, for any Asus smartphone (I’ve owned a couple of them).

So no, you will never have “most buyers interested in updates” neither will you have “most people of this forum representative of the buyers” but proportionnaly speaking, I think this device attracts way more tech passionate who will want to get the best out of it than most other brands.


I think most brands have active fan boys/girls that want to make the best out of their phones. Pixel users (also me) can be very critical on their device as well and flame Google for it. I see the same with Samsung and iPhone subreddits.

Anyway, getting the best out of your device is also through software updates, not just hardware. But if I understand you correctly you think this community is not interested in software updates? As an example, the Pixel 2 through Pixel 5 used the same camera sensor. Yet the pictures taken were superb. Even the Fairphone 3 had the same sensor as the Pixel 3a, but took crappy pictures, even after the hardware module upgrade in the FP3+. If you’re correct that this community doesn’t care that much about software updates, then that would be strange to me. Because it’s the most sustainable way to keep a phone relevant.

Edit: Whoops, I confused you with @Alain_Guillet who thinks this community doesn’t really value software updates :slight_smile: Please disregard.

Ahah nevermind, I was actually wondering if I really was that bad at making an understandable point in english :smiley:

Of course. Though my point is, there are litterally millions of Google Pixels and Samsung phones sold yearly. Whereas I doubt you can even compare with Fairphone devices sold. That’s just a different scale. YET, you have a very active community among Fairphone users. I simply think it shows the average Fairphone user is more involved in the device than say… the average Samsung buyer.


Oh, I’d agree with that.

If you ask me, 90% of buyers fall in two categories:
The majority seeked out a Fairphone specifically.
A smaller portion are employees (civil servants or private companies) given a Fairphone.

I’d say that many from the first category are on here. :slight_smile:


That’s your experience :wink: I’ve met more people with a Fairphone (~20) than with a Pixel, I’m not even sure I already saw a Pixel (well it’s logical since I organize the FP community in Nantes and I don’t care about Pixels).
A majority were users just wanting a device which was fair and ecologically better than other brands. So yes, they specifically wanted a Fairphone, but they’re not necessarily techies.

Well, I’d tend to say the FP community is more active than many other brands in general.

That was certainly true for FP1 and FP2, but much less for the FP3 and FP4 I believe.