Painful experience with the Fairphone 2

I graduated from a Fairphone to a Fairphone 2 as soon as I was able, coincidentally as my battery was dying and my screen had just cracked on the Fairphone.

August of last year I noticed the same problems which began with my original Fairphone towards the end of the life of its battery - very long charge times, only charging with the cord in unusual positions and so forth. Got quite a fright when it refused to charge from nil battery and I’d begun a relationship with someone I didn’t have many contact methods for. I bought a new battery and that resolved nothing, so got a new charging module too and that reinvigorated the phone, though the microphone didn’t work so I couldn’t call anyone.

August of this year, the familiar cycle begins, I notice long charge times and do the gamut of getting another bottom module and a battery (just in case), around 26th of August. These arrive and things are certainly smoother, though perhaps charge times are longer than I expected with an entirely new battery. Within a week when doing an operating system update, the operating system is wiped with no backup. Looking at the instructions online I try to manually download and install the operating system, but the phone isn’t recognised as a valid USB device. I send a ticket regarding this on the 7th of September. It takes until the 19th of October for the person handling my issue to acknowledge that this problem can’t be resolved remotely and for RMA labels to be generated, including my sending pictures of the intact device, with working display. I was told my device would be “flashed” and that I may be liable for out of warranty costs.

Yesterday I received a repair quote of €324 for repairing the phone, €124 more than the cost of buying each individual module from the site, 2 months after purchasing a battery and bottom module for it. The other options were to send it back as found for €15 or so as found or for them to destroy it. I chose the former. The rationale listed was that the reported issue is that it would not switch on - which is not true, it woud switch on to Team Blue recovery mode and display a lack of operating system. It stated that this was due to oxidation due to the presence of liquid - again, it’d never fallen into a body of water. I used a dehumidifier in my flat. Other possibilities include food damage or excessive heat, neither of which seem plausible to me. The oxidised component was not referred to.

So far I have spent approximately £577 on the phone. Until about 2 months ago I earned £8.70 an hour, so that represented roughly 66 hours of labour for me. There are 5 platforms I used the number for 2 factor authentication on and neither of the other 2 phones I own take a full size SIM which I had been using. I couldn’t find an insurer for the phone while I was using it. I was considering purchasing a Fairphone 3, but I’m not sure how I could justify doing so given my experience thus far with the Fairphones preceding it. I genuinely agree with the attempt to introduce ethics into production as well as consumption, but such a product at minimum needs to function. I’m currently using a Nokia which probably wreaked havoc in every stage of its production, but serves its purpose. If the phone cannot be used in countries where the temperature exceeds 30C in summer, I don’t think it’ll survive predicted climactic changes.


That really sounds awful, though - unfortunately - not really new.
Still, right now - with not much of actual experience with FP3s out there - I would expect the FP3 to fare way better.
Here (in a techcrunch article) Bas van Abel explains the core reason for my optimism:

Fairphone 2 goes beyond the idea of repairability. It’s more a show off phone in that sense. And that also comes with risks

I myself have disassembled my FP2 for demonstrating the modularity way mooooore often, than for actual neccessity.
The connections of the modules are weak, the phone in itself is rather flexible and the easy to open click-cover is doing anything but sealing the electronics. Therefore just from carrying the phone in your pocket, it tends to collect dust and dirt and humidity.
The most giving part is the display. With the FP3 it is fixed by 13 (!) screws, while it is clipped on with the FP2. And, as far as I know, they started with less screws, adding one at a time; the last one only for the final first batch production. The latest testphones came with 12 screws only.

This is the reason, why I consider us FP2 users kind of “beta-testers” of modularity an the FP3 the result of all the good and bad experiences.
Just compare the teardown of both phones on iFixIT:

The difference in design is obvious and to me the new modules and the entire construction give a much stronger, more sturdy and rigid impression.
Obviously, this is just my guessing, as I am still waiting for my wifes FP3 to arrive.

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Without wanting to excuse the disappointing performance of the FP2, a couple of things that come to mind that may help getting more out of a phone:

Sounds like a connector issue rather than a battery issue. This is often the first thing to go (also on non-Fairphone devices), and why some people use magnetic connectors (examples) to alleviate stresses (especially an issue when charging from powerbanks on the go). If you find you run into this problem with different models, those connectors could help keep a phone going for longer.

Did support give any reason why they wouldn’t cover the new charging module, or was the phone already out of the two year warranty period by then? If the microphone on the new module was broken when you got it, why didn’t Fairphone support ship out a replacement - assuming you told them about it when you discovered the problem? Would be good to know what their comments were, as it may help others know what to expect from support.

Sucks that it takes that long. In the past Fairphone has mentioned being reluctant to hire temps when there are spikes in demand (in this case the FP3 launch), for ethics reasons and quality reasons, but try to manage support in different ways. Seems they haven’t cracked that yet.

Not that it’s any consolation, but they’re not necessarily trying to make an extra buck off the back of misfortune. The cost doesn’t add up to the sum of parts in the shop, as at the price they’re quoting they’re almost certainly replacing the core module, which isn’t listed in the shop (last price I saw for it elsewhere was €275 ex. shipping). In addition, part of the price will be labour and shipping costs.

You could be lucky and find that the issue isn’t actually the core - though changing the most likely modules with limited effect suggests it might be the core. Might be worth cleaning the connectors between the modules - but that won’t fix the no OS issue. Not sure what happened, not sure how to fix, sorry. ‘Not a valid USB device’ can be a number of things, including some that have nothing to do with the phone itself. There are folks on the forum who are better at helping you troubleshoot this than I am (and probably better than Fairphone support).

Home insurance may have options. Specialist insurance usually either doesn’t cover the issues you’re describing (for any brand), work out at around 30-40% of the value of the phone per year (i.e. cost of phone / average lifespan), and/or offer less than you expect when things do go wrong (think refurbished device of the same residual value with a high excess). For Fairphones you’ll likely have to call an insurer as the insta-quote function on the websites typically cover only the most popular models even for places that provide cover for ‘any model of any brand purchased in the UK in the last 6 months’. The last bit might be a key gotcha - could be that you’d need to purchase from a UK-based reseller (currently I only know of the phone co-op in the case of Fairphone).

This is a downside of 2-factor authentication (though the upsides outweigh the downsides). If the device is lost/stolen/destroyed, recovery can be a challenge. Apps will be linked to the device, though some apps like Authy lets you backup to the cloud. This still relies on SMS authentication to begin the restore process though, and a replacement SIM can still take a while to get to you.

Not using it despite it having wreaked havoc would be more of a waste. If it serves its purpose, just use it as long as is practicable. Fairphone still has the page up about the most sustainable phone being the one you already own.

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Unfortunately I have a similar issue with my FP3.

Early this year many of its sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, etc.) stopped working all of a sudden. I could still use my phone properly, the only thing that annoyed the hell out of me was the camera app that could not rotate the picture anymore so I needed to rotate each and every photo to landscape manually.

After trying every tip I found on the forum (Safe Mode, Factory Reset, OS Reinstallation), I contacted FP Support and posted my phone for diagnosis at Cordon Electronics. According to their report, the phone has suffered severe oxidation, and therefore is irreparable hence need to be changed to a new model.

I am just completely astonished as well as puzzled as I have never dropped the phone in water or such, so I have no clue how such oxidation could materialise. How badly is the phone designed if it suffers such damage from an event (moisture I guess) that the owner does not even notice? Unfortunately this story just makes me want to buy another phone that is not so vulnerable…

I would not exactly consider that a similar isssue.
Still, as it’s a bad experience, though with a clear source and in no way a regular occurence, I will leave this posting here.
As you posted it in a thread about water resistance of the FP3, where it clearly fits better,
I kindly ask everyone wanting to answer to the posting of @abtisza to do so in the other thread:


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