Other phones that are fairly fair? (e.g. Shiftphone)

Well, judging by their “fair report” and the “Manifesto” as it is presented on page 10 of this report, they aim a bit higher than that:

  • People: safe work conditions, limited working hours, higher wages, free sundays, cooperation with TAOS
  • Materials: no conflict minerals, “environmental aware” (my wording) mining and production, no materials dangerous for customers
  • Sustainability: no obsolescence, software updates, repairability, spare parts awailable for a long time at reasonable prices, support for repair-video production

In addition to that:

  • the phones can be rooted not voiding warranty
  • the price for the phone includes a 22,- Euro deposit, that will be refunded if you return it (btw. that’s an idea, I really like; therefore I emphasized it by bold letters :slight_smile: )
  • they aim for a circular business (repair, redistribute, refurbish, recycle)
  • they have a youtube channel with lots of explanatory videos

So I think in general, to be fair, the concept could be called comparable.

Well, as for reality, … :frowning:

  • short product cycles
  • no spare parts available online
  • way less active community (unfairly judging from one visit to the forum :wink: ); reason might be, that the forum is managed by the SHIFT team (makes me wonder how they do that besides developing all those devices)
  • no OS options besides Android
  • lack of transparency
  • the SHIFT 5.1 (according to iFixIt; it scores 6 of 10) is even less repair friendly than the FP1 (7 of 10) (FP2 scores 10 of 10).

(Translation by me: “A SHIFTPHONE can be returned or exchanged/upgraded anytime.”)

If I get it right, they - even in their fair-report - call it an upgrade when you

  • return your working phone and
  • buy a new one

Doesn’t really strike me as sustainable, even if they refurbish the returned phones to sell them as used or to use them for aid projects.

The part about circular economy in the SHIFT fair report shows a slight resemblance (especially the circle-graphics) to this Fairphone blog post (although not nearly as resourceful of course):

I have not searched for more concordance, as that is to be expected given the tasks of both projects.

On the other hand, reading in the blog they have a compelling concept of sharing parts between models: They plan a device Shift 6m with a Mediatek Processor and a Shift 6mq with a Qualcomm processor sharing part except the core module with the SoC. They also plan to shrink their Shift 6m device, which has 5.7" screen to a Shift 4m device with a 4.7" screen, reusing many parts, including the core module.

I don’t think is bad per se to release a new model every year, as long as you are able to support them for a long time.

I like that too. On the other hand, it might be a lot of overhead to manage returns.

The shop has some spare parts, including batteries, back covers and display units:

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If Shift can really combine their promises of fair production, providing spare parts, the multitude of models they have released or are planning to release, the – putting it mildly – limited number of units sold and not pile up year after year multi million dollar losses without a George Soros or Warren Buffett size investor behind it who keeps injecting millions into this, then I believe that alchemy exists.

As for now, I do not believe that.

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As far as I can see, that’s it for spare parts. Cover, display, battery. No camera, no speaker, no headphones unit. That may change of course with the 6m / 6mq, as those will be the first modular phones - if I got it right.

I am with @urs_lesse, in that it sounds to good to be true.
They even announce , that they are building their own little prodution facility in china, by which they will be able to carry out the coming manufacturing processes faster and more independent.
And they state, they could go this step very low budget and not needing to use money from supporters or pre-ordering. Maybe they do have some savings and are investing all their private money, otherwise it would seem a bit suspicious.

The sharing of modules between the different product lines seems really sensible to me. It simply makes me wonder, if it is that simple to take the same circuit board and just plug in different SOCs to create a new phone?

They are aiming at supporting LineageOS and developing a ShiftOS.
I just don’t know.
They seem to have entered the market later than Fairphone, to be a smaller business (or maybe they just employ more people in china and other low wage countries) than Fairphone and still be able to create much more output in different devices,
Besides not offering as thorough and scientific a background as Fairphone, they give no indication how they manage to achieve that.
I simply have a bit of a queasy feeling, that not everything is as shiny as it seems; while at the same time I am hoping for the best.


Just saw a live report (galileo on Pro7 channel) about Shift who started selling their new phone since this week. Couldn´t reach their sells shop atm. seems the server just has some work to do :laughing:
Well, it was an interesting alternative for me two years ago, but I wasn´t able to phone or surf with a registration confirmation in hand.
Nevertheless there´s another shark in the bay and I believe FP will have to deal with it.
The chinese workers could not believe the german business founders were serious about their expectations on fair work and salary conditions, hence most sub-contractors did not wanted to sign any deal with them.
One main argument for purchase as customers said, replaceable battery (among other parts).
They surely will sale some units.

I don’t understand why the Shift6m has a Mediatek chipset, while the Shift6mq, which is in development and scheduled for Q4, has a Snapdragon chipset. The price difference is 100€, but the latter will “probably allow for custom ROMs”.

I don’t get the strategy behind this confusing product line.

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Yes, looks confusing at the first glance.

That´s one idea behind it. Afaik therefore those “blobs” are mandatory. Maybe Qualcomm is more willing to share those than Mediathek. But I am just guessing.

Generally I think it is a better strategy to have a split product line.
Not much different than Intel vs. AMD cpus. Sometimes a manufacturer prefer Intel, next time it may go for AMD (this is even more obvious in the notebook market).
The price is one point too. The manufacturer could offer a lower class and a higher class product. But maintaining both also is more cost intense.
Anyway, if there is enough win made it can be done. Often I think it is the user experience and price that makes the essential difference, not the used chipset.

One major, strategical point I also think of is independence.
Having more than only one SoC option can be very beneficial.
Shift is a startup. On the long run it may turn out being able to take better strategical business/development decisions if not being stuck with only one manufacturer (maybe ruling the market).

We could read a lot of such practice in the past related with the global chip market. Prices and sales were ruled by a few major manufacturers. The (Chip Wars) aren´t over yet.
Also who knows what will turn out with Qualcomm in the near future.
I assume no contractor or customer likes to be too far into the focus then.


Qualcomm run their own open source platform Code Aurora.

I wouldn’t say that Fairphone has made good experiences with Mediatek. One reason for going for Qualcomm for the FP2 was that the Mediatek chipset’s software proved to be extremely hard to maintain. The kitkat upgrade failed altogether because of Mediatek not bothering about clean code and using many custom code hacks.

Thus I’m asking: Which longevity-interested company would go for a Mediatek chipset?


Good point.
As you also wrote a price difference of ~100€, this would make a difference to many customers.
Being a startup they will have to gather experience which line will sell and perform better and also how much effort is needed for maintenance.
Future will show.
Then they still can take a decision which line they finally will support and stay with.
As I have mentioned already, most often users I meet don´t even know of which SoC is used, but rather about the specs of the other compounds.
So I have the strong impression it´s not necessarily the SoC taking much influence on the customers decision for purchase, but the overall user experience, peripheral compounds and the final price.
At last there´ll always be a more or less up-to-date version of Android running.

It looks like they seem to be the second by now with Mediathek. But in therms of longevity, the report states that some of their models could be upgrated to the latest hardware of the line (Shiftphone 5.1 ->5.x) for a reasonable charge.
I think up to now it is just too early to make final statements about if and how good or bad this strategy works out.
Fairphone has learned its lesson, but it also needed time for experience. If it knew right at the start what it has experienced meanwhile probably some other decisions were taken differently as well.
Bas once stated in an early interview video (don´t have a direct link, but surely can be found somewhere here) - he never had planned to become a producer, but an initiator to spark the idea and get the boulder rolling. Now he´s just within and I think not doing too bad as he´s still in business and able to maneuver.

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True, but most people also don’t take fair working conditions into consideration. Still we would agree that it is better to buy a phone that is produced under fair working conditions. What I’m saying is that even if most people don’t know the difference between Mediatek and Qualcomm, I’d definitely choose the latter over the former.

They took the software development in-house now because their “partners” don’t provide updates to their chipset (=Mediatek doesn’t care about their “partners”). Well Qualcomm also doesn’t care or else Fairphone would not have had to develop Android 7 for the Snapdragon 801 on their own…

I wonder if this is environmentally sustainable. The core module makes up more than 72% of the CO2 emissions of the FP2 production. Isn’t it more sustainable to update the software of a core module than to swap out the entire core module because it is not supported anymore (as Shiftphone does)?

Source: Fairphone Blog


Yes, I agree. I think it´s the message not yet being carried out far or strong enough to plant this very first thought into the customers minds.
Also I think it´s the form of selling going on too. Salesman in shops as I know them may focus on good sale rates maybe coupled with a provision. Starting with the flagship stepping down to the cheaper models seems more promising to have a sale than beginning with “fairness”.

In comparison to food: Many customers here in Germany do look out more and more for regional goods (hopefully) organic grown as many labels state, with little to no chemicals.

But focusing on smartphones the very first thought doesn´t seem to be fairness (maybe it´s longevity though). Longevity unfortunately has several faces. It can be software related, hardware related, business related etc.
FP1 was discontinued primarily because of software issues. FP2 faced some hardware troubles within the supply chain, fortunately these could be solved.
As long as FP stays in business the movement will go on, no one knows what the future brings.

See! So this is plain business going on. Big players are not (yet) open for longevity. It´s only about sales.
Again FP here turns out being one of the few taking care of maintaining updates. It´s a key attribute of FP2 probably not mentioned very often in shops.

It is indeed. The good thing about software is, that it does not leave any waste. It can be formed and reshaped only with the expense of energy. But that´s unfortunately something many people simply cannot understand. I think the overall demand is always wanting to have the most state-of-the-art (hardware).
I tend to say the available common SoC types (also the SD 801) overrun the software demands. There is enough potential and options (although FP unfortunately did not make all of it available by design :frowning:)
Many people seem to feel better with more advanced hardware. Actually it´s the software that utilizes the hardware. And a modern handset does not provide more security either if the software is outdated and not regularly maintained.
Many customers are not aware of these facts.


Just for completeness sake, Fairphone also had troubles to find a partner, who would continue to produce FP1 spare parts under acceptable working conditions and in low quantities. So it was not only the software, but also the hardware. However outdated software doesn’t make my FP1 unusable in the short run, while a broken touch screen does. Fortunately I haven’t had the latter.


In my opinion, the new “modular” SHIFT6m is as “modular” as the FP1: Repairable, but complex and not trivial. Sure, it is more modular than other phones that are sold today, but nothing compared to FP2’s modularity. Is it justified to call the SHIFT6m modular?

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I’ll probably have to take one apart to be able to judge that - or at least see an ifixit teardown.

Well, judging just by the picture of the shiftphone, it seems to be even more easy to disasemble than the FP1.

And - stabilitywise - it might be a good idea to fix all the modules by a large number of screws, forming a kind of “sandwich” or brick (just my impression from the picture), making it less vulnerable against twisting.
Of course it remains to be seen, if the final phone will look like this picture and how durable it really is.


thanks for this link, i didn’t know good electronics so far! :slight_smile:

I see a bunch of tiny components, which aren’t at all modules. Especially the camera with its fragile flexible flat cable looks a lot like the type that’s built into the FP1. An exploded rendering of the FP1 wouldn’t look much differently than the one of the SHIFT6m.


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I’d also say that from the looks of it it’s about as repairable as the FP1. Just imagine they managed to built a phone that can actually reuse parts of the FP1. :cloud: :bulb:

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Yeah, it remains to be seen, how the parts are fixed and connected to each other.
I remember, that switching the display of the FP1 is a really fiddly thing, with all those tiny connections, cables and the speaker being held by some adhesive tape.
At first sight, there seem to be less of those connections, but judging from a picture like this is like reading the coffe grounds. The real phone might in the end not even look like this picture.

I know I’m kind of late but there is a Smartphone “Made in Germany” from Gigaset, the GS185.
I don’t know about how eco or conflict free it is but it is assembled in Germany under good conditions. And it’s 185 €.


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