So I bought the FP3 primarily to support the fair supply chain; I was already pretty good at ungluing/regluing my old phone (Sony Z3c) after repairing it a few times.
I’ve been showing the FP3 to friends and talking about the mission and noticed that many phones are smaller, more capable, and heavier. It seems to me that a lot of volume is occupied by plastic encapsulating the modules.
I would love a Fairphone “Pro” that utilizes the fair supply chain, but is more compact (thinner, less bezel), more difficult to repair, and with some features that the easy repairability prevent, like water resistance.
That being said, I am super happy with my FP3 and hope it lasts me for many years to come!
Water resistance is not super difficult if you don’t want your smartphone to be opened. Just use a lot of glue really. The other day I read about some kind of liquid you could spray over your hardware which would make the hardware waterproof. Not sure how good it works.
If you don’t mind the smartphone getting thicker though, you could end up with a rugged smartphone. One which won’t break if you let it fall, or when it bumps. In Dutch we call it bouwvakkerstelefoon. I guess it translates to blue collar smartphone.
But would that still be a Fairphone?
I.e. “Your’s to open” or “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.”
While I really understand this desire for a sleeker phone - the FP3 has a kind of “bricklike” charme to my wife and me - it is something in which they stand out from all the other phone manufacturers.
So it’s a kind of identifier for the Fairphones, that they are not as slim and sleek as all the rest.
At least, seeing it that way, makes it a bit more attractive.
While I suppose a difficult-to-repair but fairly-sourced phone is better than nothing, I feel as though the desire for sleekness and bezellessness is the hardware equivalent of ‘why are Fairphones so expensive?’ They’re not - other phones are underpriced because workers (miners, factory workers, et cetera) who help produce the phones aren’t getting paid their share. In the same vein, the FP2 and FP3 aren’t too chunky: other phones are too thin because they are improperly built and cannot easily be repaired. FP shouldn’t adapt to the poor standards of the industry, but seek to change them - as is stated in their charter.
Rugged and compact and thin bezel don’t work well together.
If you would make it rugged though, while not making it easier to open, it is easier to make it waterproof, and thereby you add to the longevity of the product. It can still break, of course, but not due to physical damage. Or, well, chances are slim.
Hard to repair is also a security measure, though arguably a minor hurdle for a determined adversary.
Anyway, what you want is a 13 in a dozen smartphone. There are so many interesting takes on smartphone. E-ink displays, physical keyboard, fold (double screen) – just to mention a few. Rugged is another one. One I find interesting, from a longevity PoV (e-ink is interesting because it uses less energy, the other two are not related to environment of sustainability; and all of that excludes fair materials and fair worker rights).
The one you are suggesting, though, I don’t see what is pro about it? For what you want, you’re best off with a second hand smartphone which has thin bezel and is compact. The supply chain does not get impact from such, it is hard to repair, impact on environment limited. Just make sure it is still in good condition when you buy it. Cause it wasn’t meant to stay that way.
The fact is that even glued phones are repairable at home. My old Z3c is a great example: front and rear cover are glued to the case and the battery is glued to the main chip. Almost all of the components are connected via plugs, so not soldered.
A Fairphone built like that–not very difficult but harder to repair–would be great. Essentially, as others have said, a normal phone from a fair supply chain; Fairphone having achieved their mission.
I must admit that the FP3 does start conversations and that does raise awareness, so it’s not that I think the FP3 could have been better. Quite the contrary: I think it’s just about perfect for this phase in the mission.
Thin and waterproof need not be at odds with repairability, though. If the big corporations can come up with useless overengineered gimmicks like foldable screens, motorised popup cameras and five cameras per phone, they can make a phone that is repairable, sleek and waterproof. They could, but they don’t want to because they know they can make more money off the nerds by producing phones with gimmicky nonsense features.
If FP were to produce a sleek phone that is closer to other phones in dimensions and features, IMO it would still have to be repairable just to show that it can be done and big corporations choose not to do it.
When the Fairphone 1 was announced it was speculated that no one would buy a low-spec phone just because it was ‘fair’, but it sold out. When the FP2 was announced, it was speculated that it would never work - after all, even Google canceled their Ara project. But it did come out, and it sold out again. The FP3 has been panned as ugly and out-of-date, but it’s flying off the shelves. FP has left the industry looking like a bunch of idiots three times now, and it would be a crying shame if they stopped now just to follow the industry-manufactured trends of unrepairable disposable crap.
So here’s to a sleek, hip-looking phone - but one that’s waterproof and as repairable as the FP3, please.
Once you repair it, you lose your warranty, and you lose whatever your IPX rating gave you.
It is all a matter of perspective and having an open mind on new technology.
The motorized popup camera is a result of the desire to have an increased screen to body ratio (thinner bezel). I would argue a thinner bezel leads to a smaller phone, and a smaller phone leads to a phone which drops less easily out of the hand. Which increases longevity.
The five camera is a result of the desire to improve camera quality. At least they quit with the MP hype. It allows multiple focus points, and allows to ditch the worst result. It increases the price of the product, while adding more weak points. Arguably, a good camera makes a smartphone last longer. OTOH, good is good enough, but that turning point differs per person. For me, FP3 camera is more than good enough, YMMV.
The foldable screen, once you look at it as a keyboard replacement, makes a lot of sense (though currently overpriced). It allows an OS like Android to be a good option for things like Word/Excel, and multitasking. It turns a smartphone into a small laptop (which could save you buying or needing a laptop or chromebook). Its a new, expensive trend still to mature. We’ll have to see how durable it is.
[EDIT]Oh, I forgot the foldable path Razr is taking which is a smaller form factor in the pocket.[/EDIT]
I didn’t pay too much attention to the first Fairphones because of the cost at the time, so I didn’t realize they were dismissed back then. No one has told me the phone is ugly, just that it’s big. I fully expect this to be the most successful Fairphone to date.
People don’t even seem to mind the thickness; it’s more the overall size. Maybe there is a path to maintaining the repairability while downsizing, and I hope the success of the FP3 will fund it.
There is the point of the warranty: opening up a normal phone definitely presents the user with many opportunities to break something sensitive, which is why I understand Fairphone taking the route of using modules.
As a last note: I am super satisfied with both cameras. The Z3c had a 20MP rear and a poor front, but even on the rear I always shot in 12MP mode for light sensitivity. Both cameras on the FP3 are better than that rear camera.