No physical compass sensor in Fairphone 3 or 4?

As I’m saving up for buying my first fairphone, there’s one burning question on my mind. Don’t the newer fairphone models have a physical compass sensor?

I’ve long had bad experiences with semi-cheap phones without a physical compass and calibration of the software compass never really working out no matter how much I try. I was delighted to see in the specifications for Fairphone 2 that there is a true compass, but it seems to be missing from 3 and 4 ???

Yes, I think you’re right

The FP4 has an e-compass, which combines local/offline sensor data to determine north in any position (doesn’t need to be positioned on a flat surface like a “real” compass).

So yes, the FP4 has a compass. It works just as well as on my previous premium phone (Pixel 3).

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From personal experience I can say that the FP2 compass - whatever it might have been - never worked particularly well for me. The FP4 compass seems a lot more reliable to me. So I’m not sure how much you really have to worry there. If it’s important to you, it would be best to get your hands on a FP3/4 somewhere and test it for yourself. Maybe you know someone around or there is a #fairphoneangel around your location?

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Hi @Fedoras128 and welcome to the forum.

What makes you think there is no physical compass in the FP3 or FP4 and what do you mean by physical.

If you mean a small solid ‘magnet’ on some gimbal then given the amount of emf ( electro magnetic interference from multiple sources in the phone and the mini size of a ‘real’ magnet then it may be a bit of a problem and then calibrating it could be quite an issue depending upon signal strength of the phone under use.

Magnetometer

To detect the direction of you and your phone smart phone apps use a dedicated sensor in it called magnetometer. This sensor detects the magnetic field of the earth at that point and find your position. magnetometer are not only capable of giving you direction in a single plane but also gives you direction in 3D.
https://www.quora.com/How-does-a-compass-work-in-smart-phones-What-sensors-are-used-and-how-do-they-show-the-correct-directions

A magnetometer uses a magnetic sensor/element present in it to determine and measure the strength, direction, and orientation of the magnetic field of the earth.
Samsung Phones with Compass and Magnetic Sensor – Phones Questions

Magnetism

Electromagnetism. A vector field occupying physical space wherein magnetic forces may be detected. A magnetic field occurs typically in the presence of a permanent magnet, current-carrying conductor, or an electromagnetic wave. The strength of a magnetic field can be expressed either by the magnetic field strength (unit: ampere per metre [A/m]) or the magnetic flux density (unit: Tesla [T]).

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My experience with FP4s e-compass
If it is showing to north, it is truly north. What else can I expect?

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Hi everyone and thanks for the insights.

I think my bad experiences made me wary of what I perceived of as “software compasses”, but hearing all this makes me more assured that the compass of any modern FairPhone will be fine. Thanks again!

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Have you ever tried calibrating it? For me the FP2 compass works okay but calibrating it from time to time doesn’t do any harm and may improve the accuracy. I just checked my phone and it told me that the accuracy is currently down to “low” again, so I could repeat the procedure (last time was more than a year ago).

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Yes, I tried that several times when I still had the FP2. Without much success.
But it is not really relevant to the discussion here any more, it was simply meant for comparison between the compass performances of the respective models.

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