My 1+ year review of Fairphone 3

Here is the forum I read again and again posts about how bad the FP is and why people don’t use it anymore or would never buy it. Everybody can have their own opinion, but because unhappy customers are more likely to write a review than happy ones, I thought I would write about what I love and what what I dislike about the FP3, after more than a year of real life usage.

What I use the phone mostly for:

  • calls (seldom but yes I also do real phone calls)
  • messaging (actually only Signal messenger)
  • browsing the net
  • emails
  • online banking
  • simple games (nothing fancy or heavy
  • navigating for outdoor activities

so basically just ordinary things, nothing special. It’s less of a gadget but more of a daily tool for me.

What I dislike about the phone

  • it’s not very rugged if it comes to outdoor activities. I’m worried when putting it on the handlebars of my mountain-bike or my motorcycle. Rain is OK, I can pack it into a plastic bag, but I would not trust it to sustain a crash. Solution → try not to crash, I heard that is anyway healthier.
  • It’s the biggest and bulkiest smartphone I ever had. First I though I would be annoyed by it, but I got used to it, and hey are you old enough to remember those phones in the late 90s? We were glad when they started to fit into ordinary pockets: https://www.cellphonesmuseum.com/-
  • The protective case grows. Really it expands over time, see Enlargement of the phone case issue
    It was no problem to get a new one from FP, let’s see if it starts to grow also. And when it becomes big enough I can use it as case for my laptop
  • when having a voice conversation on Signal, most other people hear themselves as an echo, except if I use the loud-speaker or headphones. I’ve filed an issue with the signal app Add Fairphone 3 to AEC blacklist · Issue #10466 · signalapp/Signal-Android · GitHub but no improvement so far :frowning: No idea if its a FP an Android or a Signal issue. I get around it by using the speaker, but sometimes its annoying.
  • Random bugs come and go. Like the one where the auto-brightness was broken for a while. That’s just software, I’m in the business myself. What you could do? Hire http://jankari.tech to write automated tests for software. Guess what, that is the company I run :wink:
  • The FP product is costly, no question. I bought the FP3 when the FP3+ was already out, that made it cheaper, still for the specs I need, I could have got a cheaper phone.
  • I’m not a photographer but even I can see that the camera is not the best. If the light is good the pics are ok, but as soon the light situation gets challenging the images are not great. Maybe I should have invested more and got a FP3+
  • I could not make the fingerprint sensor be very reliably, so given up on it
    I managed to solve the fingerprint issue by putting a clear tape over it and registering the finger multiple times, now I use it all the time.

What I love about the phone

  • My last phone was from Vernee, and I think I got one update in two years. But they gave me something different: Apps would just appear on the phone without me installing them or even knowing what they are. That was great service by Vernee or whoever, they knew what I needed before I realized, but I really prefer the boring way FP is doing it: regular security updates. Install it, reboot the phone, go on with life, feeling better about safety. And this will go on for a couple of more years! I don’t care about having the newest Android, what I do care is to have an Android that has the known bugs patched.
  • 2 SIMs and a SD-card. Living in Nepal 2 SIM slots are soo useful. I haven’t even used to SD-card because the memory is still enough for me
  • It’s 2022 and I still can take my battery out of the phone. OK I could also probably replace any battery of any phone using a microwave, a razor blade and more tools (How To Replace A "Non-Removable" Smartphone Battery (Huawei Google Nexus 6P) - YouTube), but do I want to? NO! I’m accepting the bulkiness for having a modular phone.
  • People do complain about the support of FP, I myself just had little but good encounters so far. First there was a bit of communication about the original delivery date, then about the enlarged cover, both sorted easily.
  • The price is high, but if the phone lasts a couple of years its worthwhile, and really we have to look more after the planet and specially care more about humans, so my take is that it: the FP is not to expensive, the other products are too cheap and someone else is paying the price. We got used to too cheap products and to exchanging them too frequent.
  • Bugs get fixed, yes it takes time and its annoying in that time, but the developers seem to care and look into issue.

Bottom-line: the FP3 is just good enough for me, and the pros outweigh the cons by far, specially I love it for the goal of sustainability and being fair(er) to humans who build it. It might not be the right choice for everyone, but if I would need a new phone now, I would try hard to find the money to get a FP4. I hope I will never buy one, but get one day a FP5 or 6, who knows.
And if YOU are here probably you are already thinking of sustainability of your device, so even you don’t choose FP, keep that aspect not only in mind but in focus.
To FP I would like to say ‘thank you’ for that great product, but also keep in improving (as you do), only having a sustainable phone will not change anything if it’s not a product that can itself sustain in the market.

BTW: here you can see how satisfied others are with FP3/3+ 📊 POLL: How satisfied or unsatisfied are you with your FP3 or FP3+?

EDIt: I solved e.g. the fingerprint issue by putting a clear tape over it and registering the finger multiple times, now I use it all the time.

35 Likes

Thanks for the view. However if you do get to use an SD card please format it either before you insert it, or format it as External/Portable to avoid all manner of issue. Then you really have something to add to what you don’t like.

3 Likes

@amoun oh that IS bad, specially if it implies data loss. I guess I would have naturally chosen the internal option and would not have researched the implications for that.

1 Like

Does that mean you do have the SD as internal? If so you’d best mitigate as soon as possible as it will not get any better :frowning:

1 Like

no I don’t I meant to say: if I would have ever used an SD-Card I would have most likely chosen the internal option and by that lost data. Now I will be aware of the issue. THX

3 Likes

Good Point. :+1:
… to satisfy twenty characters :joy:

For the end user it depends upon budget.
Too expensive ~ expensive ~ not an issue ??

Hi,

and thanks for the positive view. (I own an FP2 with FPOOS and also am quite happy with it.)

Agreed. People using cheap phones (“cheap” in comparison to features and lifetime, including e.g. iPhones) should be asked whether they have met and talked to the poor guys digging their metals and assembling their phones.

Danke & Grüße von
nobi

3 Likes

Thanks for the review, I agree with just about all of it :sunglasses:

I also gave up on the fingerprint sensor for about 6 months but then took some time to register mostly one finger more carefully, several times. The sensor now works well and I haven’t had to re-register for a long time. Sometimes I need to touch the sensor for a full second.
Using the sensor is quicker and importantly also reduces wear on the on/off button.

I believe the phone is supposed to be quite rugged, I’ve read stories of pretty harsh treatment.

When you use a plastic pouch for rain, include a sachet of silica gel to reduce humidity and avoid corrosion of internal contacts. You can regenerate the gel a number of times by heating it in a traditional oven.

4 Likes

I believe I read somewhere on the forum that putting a piece of tape over the fingerprint sensor helped, if it can help you.
Here’s a testimony:

5 Likes

@individual-it You speak from my heart!!! :smiley: I can confirm everything you wrote!

1 Like

I fully concur. the FP3 is a good and reliable phone. the issue of the “loosening” cover had already plagued the FP2 but a regular replacement (~once a year) is OK with me. I would still want a smaller phone (iPhone 5 size) but got used to the length/width ratio in the meantime.

The echo issue with the Signal app seems to be fixed, so one point less on the (-) list. see Add Fairphone 3 to AEC blacklist · Issue #10466 · signalapp/Signal-Android · GitHub

Sadly it looks like I cannot edit my original post :frowning:

Strangely you still haven’t got the necessary “member” trust level although from your profile stats you have met all criteria a while ago already … :thinking:

3 Likes

It definitely is not. I’ve had one for about that long and now there’s, many fractures around the sides of it. It’s not a part that you can replace, a reality I was hit with not too long ago, and I have to send it out from the UK and back and then pay about half the price of the phone (probably more because shipping costs) just to replace it.

As a student who can’t really throw around 200 euro like that, I am still debating on whether I should just scrap the whole thing and get something second-hand or something of the sort. I really like the phone and all it stands for, but for a phone I had the intention to keep for 5 years failing so bad after the first year I’m having my doubts.

P.S. If anybody knows any rugged phone cases for FP3, do let me know.

1 Like

So the frame has fractures although you used a case/Bumper? If not why not? Are the fractures caused by whatever you use to put it to the handlebar and by the fact that the constant shocks while biking are not absorbed?
Overall I think Fairphones are quite good in “accepting” crashes without breaking completly (we have quite impressive reports here in the forum at least for FP1 and FP2 where cars, motorhomes or similar drove over it and it survived).

2 Likes

Unless it’s the motherboard that is damaged, getting a broken casing replaced isn’t necessarily a three digits expense. Going by the official repair price list, the rear module costs 65 Euros.

6 Likes

I’ve always used the bumper and bought the big FP3+ case when I knew it existed. I do MTB but I don’t put it on the handlebars, I put it either in my pocket or in my backpack where its relatively safe from the shocks that come with MTB.
I think its just of how I am with phones. I didn’t realise this before I started thinking of the whole thing, but I actually drop my phone on hardwood floors quite often, so much so that I don’t even bother reacting to it most of the time. So ultimately I think its just an early warning for me to start treating my phone better.
Maybe I’m biased but I have a hard time picturing an FP3 surviving a car! Believable, maybe with the FP3+ case, but I imagine the plastic would fracture really bad without it.

2 Likes

You give me hope, I’m already sobering up to the idea of spending 200 euro but if I can get it replaced for 65 that would be phenomenal! I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what the techs say, although I really would prefer to have the option to replace it myself.

2 Likes

Let us know if you go for it and how it works out. :slight_smile: Can’t hurt to get certainty if 65 Euros is really the bottom line or if any fees or charges still come on top of it.

One more thought: I take it what you have is the original FP3 (not the FP3+). You might know that unlike the FP3 casing the FP3+ isn’t translucent anymore, but all opaque. When the latter was released, Fairphone did not include a bumper with it anymore – and according to explanations made back then, this was because the opaque material was more shock-resistant than the translucent. If you contact the Repair Centre, you might want to get clarity if/that the new rear module is an opaque one so you get the more robust one (although they might only use the opaque one now anyway).

6 Likes