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No U.S. Fairphone?

If I read this correctly, there will be no North American version for the FP2:

A direct quote from Fairphone’s CTO:

“We looked into it, [but] the cost of doing a North American version is too high,” Herbert said. “We’re not going to do it with this one, but the next one.”

While this is very disappointing, I am much more disappointed by the fact that I learned this by reading some random article, especially because your FAQ still seems to tease that a U.S. FP2 is a possibility:

https://fairphone.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202654358-Do-you-ship-to-the-US-or-anywhere-else-outside-of-Europe-

I am more than a little disillusioned. I would expect your own website to be as or more informed than PC magazine. Assuming the quote is accurate, you clearly have come to some sort of internal agreement on not EVER offering the FP2 in the U.S. Why not let us know? Updating the FAQ would be sufficient…

I am having a hard time with this, not only because I am sad I’m not getting a FP, but the lack of updating community seems to be either (a) intentionally non-transparent (“let’s avoid some bad press!”), which undermines your image as a different and well meaning organization, or (b) incompetent (noone bothered to tell the web person to get the site up to date before execs start telling the press new info). Both possibilities are as depressing as not getting a Fairphone.

Well, I still wish you all the best of luck. I still feel like conflict free mineral and responsible labor policies are a great thing. Take care everyone. (Now I need to sadly go figure out which other device is least abusive to it’s work force…)

Joe

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I honestly don’t know what’s so much more expensive about a North America version, especially since it’s usually the other way round, namely that USA companies have to invest money to make US products fulfill EU standards.

But I’m not into salesmanship or hi-tec development, so I can only give my opinion here.

I’d rather think that Fairphone is currently so busy with the tens of thousands of FP2 shipped already throughout Europe, that they might not have the manpower to do the same amount of support for the North America market, plus they’ve just managed to get 25.000+ (partly impatient) customers in Europe satisfied and I could imagine that they would like to take some time to recover a bit and focus on bug fixing and improving the FP2 for now.

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It is not that easy for Fairphone to go the U.S. because of regulations, how to offer repairs, warranty etc.

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I think they may have some problems which hinder them to enter the North American Market:

  1. Serving North America requires additional steps, e. g. a distribution center in North America.
  2. According to this post, Fairphone needs an expensive FCC certification.
  3. They are very busy now to satisfy their European customers.
  4. They maybe want to solve some problems experienced with the FP2 (e. g. software bugs, Marshmallow and the alternate operating systems, bad camera, …) and want to enter the North American market with an improved version of the FP2.
  5. In North America, it seems that the hardware needs to be slightly changed. For example, 4G won’t work there.
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I agree with what everyone is saying, and while I’m sad about the decision to skip North America, I’m far more disappointed in the lack of communication to the Fairphone community about their decision.

It is reasonable and understandable for a company like Fairphone to choose to wait to enter the North American market.

It seems far less understandable to make that decision, then fail to inform your community. That seems like a major decision to make (to rule out North America as a FP2 market). A company that believes in transparency as much as this one claims to should have considered updating the community one of it’s first priorities. This is certainly opinion, but it’s a little depressing…

Joe

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Generally speaking, I agree with you. But I tend to be more forgiving with Fairphone staff. They are a team of less than 50 people covering the whole process to bring the device from the mines to your home. It’s a big and visionary task, and it can happen that they miss something or overlook something else. This is not Apple or Samsung, is a small social enterprise in the middle of Europe.

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You kind of give a different option away already: Could be also possible, that the news site got it wrong and all your anger is for notihg …

Not saying I know anything about this, but before getting all worked up over this I would in your position first try to clarify this officially.

To clarify, I’m not angry, and still wish FP the best. I am, however, sad and disillusioned…

To answer your question, I did try to clarify this with the FP team. Even before I found the PC magazine article.

First, I posted to the forums, to see if anyone out there had heard any news:

Then, soon after, my phone’s battery started to die. I could no longer wait for the FP, so I posted again to see if anyone had suggestions for the “next best” option:

Finally, I submitted a support ticket on Feb. 9th (more than 15 business days ago), asking for either (a) the status of a U.S. Fairphone, or (b) a rough timeline for when the community would be updated. I still have not received a response (yet another reason to be sad and disillusioned), not even one saying they were sorry but could not give out this info yet.

So, yes, I have done what I believe to be a fair investigation of the issue before posting about my disappointment…

Joe

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Hey Joe,

Sorry to hear you’re sad and disillusioned. This was never our intention.
The official statement now is: “We currently have no plans to release the Fairphone in the US.”

This of course could change either way; we might one day see opportunity to expand outside of the EU, or we decide against it.

Reasons not to ship outside Europe are basically the ones mentioned in this post by community members: there are different regulations, networks and technicalities that could require some or a lot of modifications to the hardware. And then there is the market size: we are currently struggling (as many forum members can tell you) to serve the European market. We need to deliver, support and, sadly, sometimes take back Fairphones. In the EU this can already take days, imagine if we’d have to send back and forth Fairphones across the pond…

Our team is stretched thin across the many tasks involved in not only making an actual working phone and shipping 10’s of thousands to multiple countries, but also in developing software, supporting the phone, making the packaging, writing legal documents, updating the twitter account, researching where the tantalum comes from, get fair trade gold certification and last but not least, continue support for the 60.000 Fairphone 1 owners.

The US has an estimate of 322,369,319 inhabitants. The EU has 508,191,116 people. So you can imagine what a stress and workload just the US would be for Fairphone: a new unknown market. And then there is Canada, Australia, Honk-Kong, Israel, Brazil, Mexico… etc. etc. etc.

Do not get me wrong: we wish very much to be able to expand to other countries and show the industry the depth and width of demand for fair consumer electronics. But if we move to fast we’d risk swaths of very unhappy costumers and, even more important, we risk loosing what we are cautiously building up.

Just as the phone is not 100% fair, just as our software is not 100% open, we can not make everyone 100% happy. But reaching new people and markets is, next to 100% fair phone and 100% open software, a spot on our horizon we are aiming for. And we are getting there. Step by step.

In the meanwhile, take our message and agenda and start questioning the practices of unfair electronics manufacturing in your country and raise awareness among your fellow citizens. Organize an urban mining, a rally or demand fairer products at your local electronics shop.

We are coming, but don’t wait for us to start making a change.
We are proud and humbled by your lack of patience :slightly_smiling:

Best regards,
Douwe

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Hey Douwe,

Thanks for the reply, and the clear message. It makes me buy another phone without too much guilt :slightly_smiling:

I’ve always understood that coming to North America would be a huge undertaking for you all, and it is completely reasonable for you to want to make sure you have the resources to do it before making the dive.

I’m pretty passionate about what you’re doing, and I hope you all know just how important it is to many of us that you succeed. If you fail, all we will ever hear about fair electronics is “See? Fairphone didn’t work, that proves that the market doesn’t care!”

So please continue the good work you’re doing, and I look forward to the day I can own one!

Joe

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While you have no plans to release the Fairphone in the US, your exposure at the recent SXSW conference in Austin, TX has no doubt increased expectations and interest here in the states.

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I just wanted to chime in here with a response I made in a related thread:

I have been using my Fairphone 1 in the United States (Michigan) for a year or two now. My carrier is AT&T, and I believe I am on the 2G GSM EDGE network.

A few weeks ago (Feb 2016), I received the following text message:

AT&T Free Msg: Thank you for choosing AT&T! We appreciate your business. Due to planned network upgrades your device will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 2016. To avoid service disruption upgrade to a 3G or 4G LTE device as soon as possible. For more information visit www.att.com/networkimprovements

The link indicates they are discontinuing 2G service. With a little digging, I discovered they are focusing on HSPA+, 3G and 4G LTE. I also found the AT&T Mobility page on Wikipedia which specifies the network’s supported bands and protocols.

Well, thanks for the info! It looks like I will soon have a Wi-Fi-only Fairphone.

edit: @Irina_Spitznagel shared an excellent link for determining whether the Fairphone (or any smartphone) will work with a given carrier. http://willmyphonework.net/ There are many companies listed, notably T-Mobile. The site still lists AT&T, which will not be true for much longer. My understanding was that the smaller companies (Cricket, TracFone) provide unique plans but utilize the large companies’ infrastructure. That being the case, I would focus on T-Mobile as a solution for the legacy 2G network.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Will my 2G phone work, when AT&T shuts down 2G?

I am seriously bummed that FP2 doesn’t support North American telecom bands for LTE. I’ve noticed that other alternative models/OS’s like Firefox OS also do not support USA LTE bands. I am wondering what is the reason for this? Do the big corps. here in the USA have a stranglehold on the LTE chipsets? I was under the impression that their radio functionality was more or less agnostic of what device is using it, provided it fits in the case and has an adequate processor and power. Are these chipsets more expensive or something like that? Does Qualcom only sell them to certain manufacturers? I can’t figure out why USA can’t be readily supported, maybe someone here can explain it to me. Perhaps it is just simply that FP is still extremely small, has a huge vision, and can’t be as global as they would like to be right now. I always get the cheapest phone whenever possible but upon discovering FP I will pay an enormous amount to use this phone for many obvious reasons central to FP’s philosophy. I would pre-order 2 right now if they would work here and I suspect there would be a large number of adopters in the US also. Hopefully, a US release is imminent. The 15k goal would have been met already if these were available in the US, even with the poor conversion of dollar/pound. I suspect companies would even adopt them for corporate use (think of all the good press they would get), provided FP could reliably support what is needed for secure corporate communications (e.g., OS updates + 3rd party security apps).

I’ve just relocated to North America with my Fairphone 2. I really hope that I can keep it running and don’t have to replace it with an Unfairphone! So far what the support articles say is true; that 4G LTE won’t work, but 3G will. To be honest, I think a stable 3G signal is enough so I’m hoping it stays stable and I’m all good. Any tips on making this work would be welcomed!
Currently running on MetroPCS (T-Mobile) network.

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I just want to echo the interest in a future Fairphone version that would work reliably on US networks. As it is, it’s a bit of a gamble (and counter to the intent of keeping and upgrading the phone for a long time instead of ditching it for the next generation) to invest in a phone that depends on bands that US carriers are dropping support for.

Keep up the good work you’re doing in Europe. I hope to see it hit the shores over here soon.

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As an update, I’ve been using my FP2 here in NYC for 6 months now and all has been well. I have been running on 3G which actually saved me money and was plenty fast enough.
However, the operators are now all switching off their 3G in preparation for 5G and so now in order to get any usable data (above E) you need to support LTE 4G. This is not doable and so marks the end of me being Fair in the US :frowning:
I hope this is useful for anyone coming to the US.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Other phones that are fairly fair? (e.g. Shiftphone)

Apart from hardware differences for US frequency bands, another problem which is often overlooked here on the forum is FCC certification: a very costly and time-consuming process. The FP1 happened to be based on an existing design that was already FCC certified, but the FP2/2.5/3 or whatever comes after the FP2 would still need to go through this process to be allowed for sale in the US. Fairphone has to decide whether it is worth investing in a US phone, and at the moment I think the company is still too small to be able to duplicate all the work which is done to get the phone sold in Europe.

It’s a pity 3G is going to be switched off; and it also seems a strange move to me since EU operators have only reduced the number of 2G masts so far but aren’t openly planning to turn off 2G or 3G yet because people are still using them.
Thanks for your reports at least - for other users of the phone going to the US it is good to know what level of support to expect.

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It seems that the critical mass in Europe is not reached yet and thus the Fairphone can’t yet fully “slop over” to the US.

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