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

That was indeed the :grimacing: emoji! :smiley:

Anyway, I didn’t intent to make fun of you, but to put the relevance of shiftphones in question. For a year or so they had promised to publish some documentation and have not been able to deliver this to date.

Also, I’m pretty sure we here in the Fairphone forum would know, if another initiative was producing fair phones. (I hear that Apple is actually more engaged than other producers, at least in terms of conflict minerals…)

1 Like

The context of the original topic of my answer is simple enough: I wouldnot have had mentioned this specific company if I wouldnot have been explicetly asked personally for one. The person who asked me about one was not the topic author who I addressed my advice to. My advice for buying decision makers would be never to focus only on the “fair thingy” :grimacing: issue of FP or any other phone company. Making decisions about a hardware device should rather depend on hard facts in his hand after he buyed the device.

To me it becomes clear that FP’s claim about fair ressources and workers conditions is much easier to proove than many of so called hard facts from the technical data sheet of the FP2 device.
Usually people first look on the technical data sheets before asking for fair ressources.

I think this should be mentioned here: It seems that after continued ‘requests’ for it on their forums the Shiftphones team has released a report about fairness in their production process. It is linked on their main page under “100% Love”: https://www.shiftphones.com/

1 Like

@Hamm325 Thank you for linking this!

Regarding the report: Is this a sideswipe at Fairphone? :joy:

Es ist nicht unsere Absicht, ein „Fair-Image“ um unser Projekt zu
bauen. Daher nutzen wir den Begriff „fair“ auch nicht in unserem
Namen. Source

:gb: Translation: It’s not our intention to build a “fair image” around our project. That’s why we don’t use the term “fair” in our name.

IMO important points

  • They are working together with TAOS (like Fairphone)
  • Indeed Shiftphones don’t include Tantalum: They use ceramic micro capacitors.
  • Point 9. What’s the difference between Fairphone and SHIFT? (!)
    • They say it’s more important to them to emphasize the common things.
    • Their approaches root in different backgrounds. Fairphone started as movement, SHIFT has a design and production background.


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.


Now I need to buy an Unfairphone. Does anyone have any suggestions on what is the least Unfair??

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 182 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

Just took a look at the Shiftphone homepage.
They are advertising their new high end smartphone 6m / 6mq available for preorder (delivery according to the shop-page starting March 2018 for 6m and September 2018 for 6mq).
It is a modular phone as well and they state (translation by me):

Seems they are following in the path of Fairphone, although the SHIFT fair report dating from 2016 still is the latest available information. Nothing comparable to the Fairphone blog and the transparent information presented there.

The report states, that SHIFT is a family business of seven employees. Yet, the manage to produce not just one smartphone.

  • They plan for thre phones to be available this year: 5.3, 6m and 6mq.
  • They are working on a notebook (they call it “Tablop”) right now.
  • They offer overear headphones and a bluetooth headset controller
  • And - founded by the end of 2014 - they already have quite a long list of discontinued smartphones: SHIFT 4 / 4.2 / 5 / 5.1 / 5.2 / 7 / 7+

Another big difference to Fairphone - in my opinion - is, that - although they claim repairability of their devices - they do not sell any spareparts besides batteries.

So, while the concept in itself seems quite comparable to Fairphone, reality is another piece of cake. They seem to be more influenced by the Apple-style pushing new devices on a yearly base. And those phones really seem to be new, not just updates from the old ones.

I would not call that exactly sustainable.


I wouldn’t even say that. Fairphone’s main concept is to make things better where it’s bad, afaik Shiftphone simply avoids conflicts and unfair working conditions by mining and producing elsewhere.

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:

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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