Since my father owns one of Shiftphones products (the Shift7+ Phablet), I thought i could provide some information about it in this thread. I personally have followed the development of Shiftphones since the “Shift Reloaded” crowdfunding campaign in 2014 but bought a FP2, .
I’m going to list some Pros and Cons first:
+ Removable battery
+ Dual Sim
+ Slot for SD-card
+ Easy to grip and handle
+ Rootable without loss of warranty
- Strange design decisions (see below)
- Very low specs for a 2016 realease
- No updates (probably never)
- No (proovable) fairness
- No criticism from the community allowed
“New design, better technology, fair production”. These are three arguments that are brought forward in the Startnext campaign Shift Reloaded by Carsten Waldeck. Is this all true? We will find out soon.
First of all, the Shift7+ indeed looks promising from the outside with a simple design and nice logo on the back. It doesn’t have much weight, so you can easily grab it, pick it up and use it like any other phablet. The back cover can be removed with no hassle. However, design is more than just looks and unfortunately the Shift7+ design falls apart when daily usage is considered. The first noticeable flaw is the SIM slot which lets you push in too far. If you want to see your SIM card again, you have to use a knife/fork/fingernails to get it out. Thankfully there is a conveniently shaped hole (which definitely looks like they added it just before delivery) to stick your knife in.
The notification LED is located inside the USB port. Yes, not on top but inside. This means you cannot see notifications when you are charging the Phablet or - since the USB port is on top of the Shift7+ - when you lay it down and it faces your direction. To see notifications, you have to face it away from you which is very inconvenient. Another design flaw is the placement of power and volume buttoms. They are placed right next to ech other on the right edge, have a similar size and will frustrate you. Whenever you want zo watch a video, you will accidently push the power button instead of volume up. Whenever you want to turn off the screen, you will likely change your volume accidently. You will get used to it but it is not very satisfying to look at the buttons every single time to figure out which button you have to press.
Regarding technology the Shift7+ was kind of mid-spec when it came out (Q1 2016) and is low-end if you consider it now. The original specs where announced 2014 in the Startnext campaign, so the specs have become comparably worse to other phablets, while the price even went up. The “better technology” argument is valid in comparison to the predecessor Shift7 but not in comparison to the 2016 market. That said, the removable battery, Dual Sim, Root-Access combo is pretty unique in the Phablet market. So if you care about removable batteries, the Shift7+ should be a go-to for you.
Mediatek Architecture has been difficult to deal with in the past but in addition to this the Shiftphones team has shown no interest in delivering any updates. Prepare to be vulnerable to Android security breaches if you want to buy from this company. To my knowledge, there are also no CyanogenMod/LineageOS ROMs available, so you are stuck with what you have. Focus seems to be on putting out more devices like a Shift12 laptop than fixing bugs and/or providing upgrades.
For more than the first half of the last year the company Shiftphones seemed to be build on 3 principles with one being “fairness” and one “sustainability”. You can see it in Wayback Machine. The only problem is: There’s no proof. In fact, Shiftphones removed “fair” and “sustainability” from their website and only published a poorly written report that provides little knowledge but nice pictures that fill half of the page.
Furthermore, Carsten Waldeck, founder of Shiftphones, and his team repeatatly broke their promise to deliver a report, being apologetic and blaming those who asked question for “pressuring” them even though they surpassed their deadline. Here is a quick event timeline:
5th May 2015: Shiftphones is asked about providing a report for their supposedly fair production line in their forum
- 14th May 2015: Waldeck asks for “a few more days to get working”
- 17th June 2015: Even though a month has passed, there’s no statement from Waldeck. Instead Heike Wi from the Shiftphones team claims that the community (which is asking more questions) “destructive” and “unfair”
- 18th June 2015: HannsDieter (Shiftphone Team) proclaims that the documentation is “the first point in Waldecks to-do list”
- 13th July 2015: Waldeck reports back to the forum and promises to adress the documentation about fairness “soon”
- 13th August 2015: Shiftphones publishes a “production manifesto” (1 page) with no poof
- 12th April 2016: Waldeck promises his dovumentation in “a few days” and “1-2 weeks”
- 15th April 2016: c’t magazine, a highly reputably german computer magazine, criticises Waldeck for poor communication and raise questions about the fairness of the Shift5
- 16th April 2016: Waldeck claims in this thread that the report will be finished “next week”
- 18th April 2016: bharder (Shiftphone Team) claims the documentation is “being finalized”
- 22th April 2016: Waldeck says they are “close to finishing the production report”
- 18th May 2016: After repeated questions about the documentation, HannsDieter (Shiftphones Teams) asks “how they should proof that workers are paid fairly”
- 6th June 2016: Waldeck says that they are activly working on a report and he will report back “in a few days”
- 2nd December 2016: Waldeck publishes a 13 page long “documentation” where only 5 pages are relevant
Again, this is just a summary. I left out the posts where HeikeWi claimed that attitude matters more than proof and the two posts where Waldeck said that “fairness” is not used to advertize the product, even though he did this in several interviews, the website, the Startnext campaign and the product itself. Waldeck might be a idealistic entrepreneur but this behavior is both baffling and insulting to everyone who cares about fairness.
My final judgement is: No, Shiftphones are not fair, not even “fairly fair”, they are not well designed and use features that other phones made in China also have. Fairness is a nice marketing gag to them with which they try to seperate themselves from the hundreds of other viable options and to profit from Fairphone’s label.