After many years of following the project, owning two Fairphones and participating in the forum I’ve decided to buy a different phone and very probably won’t consider buying a Fairphone again. I felt the need to explain why, even though probably no-one will be interested. Maybe others making the same decision will want to chime in.
I’ve had the FP1 which was pretty bad (as anticipated), which I used for about two years before getting another phone. I’ve had the FP3 for three years, and it wasn’t too bad in the beginning. I “upgraded” the camera module which turned out to be a waste of money (and resources). But after the A13 upgrade it’s just too much. I often want to take snapshots of my kids, but now the phone often takes up to a minute to decide if it’s actually in the mood to take a picture. By that time the kids are long gone. And often enough after the wait the camera app or the OS just crashes. Add to that the fingerprint debacle, the screen rotate problem, etc. My partner is keeping her FP3+ for now, but I don’t think it’ll be for long.
I don’t regret buying either phone. It was worth supporting the project. But unfortunately, the project has failed to:
a) Initiate meaningful change in the industry. Fairphone and Shiftphone are still the only manufacturers that try to make “fair”, sustainable phones.
b) Produce an actual consumer-ready phone. The FP3, and from what I read also the FP4, still has far too many quirks to recommend to the average person. This is exacerbated by most updates introducing new problems.
c) Produce a long-term usable phone. The FP1 received updates only for a few months. Reading this forum, the FP2 seems to have lost functionality and to have become less and less usable. The same is now happening to the FP3. This is not really the fault of Fairphone (the company), it just demonstrates that it’s probably impossible for a small company to provide long-term support when the whole industry is built around planned obsolescence.
It was worth trying, but ultimately I think it hasn’t worked. The way forward seems to me to be political pressure to change regulation – as is now now beginning to happen in the EU.
Yeah, we all wish such transitions would be faster, but that’s not how real life is. Don’t just look at smartphones, but at transitions in traffic, energy and so on. No, Sony, Apple and Samsung haven’t changed to building easily repairable phones from fairly sourced materials but they have adapted some of these components - partly because it made sense to them, partly because policy forced them. And why could policy do this? Because companies like Fairphone have showcased that change is possible. There are these Nokia phones that at a first glance almost could be confused with Fairphones and which come with iFixit manuals.
The FP2 didn’t lose functionality, it just didn’t get better anymore. My FP2 is still my daily driver and I’m annoyed by it being slow, rebooting from time to time and converting quite a lot of the charging power into heat. But it will turn 7 by the end of this year, its design is even one year older. And Fairphone has only given up the software support early this year, seven years after the release.
I beg to (partly) differ. I do not want to dispute that for your situation you take the correct decision - I clearly understand that your decision is a reflected one. Still, looking at your point b) I can say that when I bought the FP3 3.5 years ago I had doubts that I take the right decision, but until this day I never regretted it. For me the FP3 is exactly that: a no-hassle consumer-friendly phone. The reason for my diverging view is most likely that my usage scenarios differ considerably from yours. For people like me, your statements b and c are not correct. On point a) I’d say: that remains to be seen. But kudos to Shiftphone and Fairphone for at least trying to make a difference.
You may wonder: Do I have already upgraded to A13? Am I still in for a nasty surprise? I have upgraded about two weeks ago. But for me, this did not introduce any severe problems, just minor ones, and I can say that this holds true for other phone’s major updates - it’s not a FP specific problem.
I hope you find the product you’re looking for - if you’re not fixed on Android: I was surprised how good the sustainability ratings for Apple’s iPhone are. And they definitely provide stable OS updates for 5 years+, which I find remarkable. My only problem: I don’t like Apple devices
I think the main value of Fairphone lies in the “Fair”.
I bought Fairphone because I was sure that my money would not exploit the “slaves” in raw material mines and factories.
I knew that it cost quite a bit more than phones of similar capacity, however, having a clear conscience (at least for the cell phone) necessarily entails a cost; one cannot hope to fight labor exploitation by saving money, and when I have to buy it again in the future because Fairphone 3 will be obsolete, I’d rather give up something else than save some money on the skin of others.
And too bad there isn’t also a Fairdesktop
In my eyes I paid for a product that after two years still feels like a beta. The camera has issues. The sensor has issues. The brightness has issues. The bootloader can brick your phone. The audio quality is atrocious. Apps keep hanging.
And nothing is done about any of this for months. The sensor issue was listed as fixed when it obviously isn’t.
To me, it’s not worth it anymore. I probably won’t sell my device but it’s more and more looking like my FP4 will be a backup phone in the near future.
I recycle absolutely every piece of garbage that I can, so I figured “why not buy an environmentally friendly phone as well?”
I didn’t expect the world, but 620 bucks for a beta product ain’t cutting it for me chief.
Next time I buy a phone I’ll take a look for which phones are created in decent countries (not China) and I’ll go with that instead.
spoiler: not any phone is practically made in Europe, and I would be surprised if any smartphone today is made outside of Asia. There is simply no competition for the manufacturing of CPU-GPU, they are all made with components from Taiwan, China or South Korea.
For other components, there is now a lack of knowledge and efficiency for manufacturing micro-components on a profitable scale in Europe.
I would be curious if there are real companies that beg to differ in Europe or the western countries.
Well, that’s been the problem for years: PCs and smartphones (usually) don’t get worse over the course of their useful life. In my opinion, it’s more the software that kills memory and resources.
With my FP2, which is now almost seven years old, I “simply” deleted many apps and use the themes via browser. That really helped a lot. Unfortunately, my good old, light and narrow FP2 now has a microphone defect and is overwhelmed with the connection via Android Auto to VW-App-Connect… It’s just a shame that there is no longer a replacement for the bottom module, otherwise it would have I didn’t have to completely switch to the FP4, which was a bit too big and heavy for me. As you can see here, I came and still do with the FP2 and the FP4 with its undoubted quirks rel. fine. Of course I hope that Fairphone will fix this with updates…
The only item after upgrading to Android 13, as of my experience, did the upgrade some weeks ago, is the security item of the fingerprint sensor. But this is a real minor item, because using banking apps for mobile payment with NFC does not require the fingerprint sensor. The only exception, depending to the specific banking institute is, that in case of higher amounts for example more than 50 € it is necessary to give in the pin because the fingerprint sensor is not accepted anymore. But this doesn´t really matter because the app starts in cases like this automatically and typing the pin needs less then 10 seconds.
Except this fingerprint sensor, there is none other problem or misfunction in any app used with my FP3.
Additional remark: My company provides me for my job since many years with Apple iPhones. For sure these are nice products regarding the usability and remarkable long provided iOS updates, but even in direct comparisson with my FP3, I would never buy me for private use an Apple iPhone. Why? In case of any technical defects, even if just the battery capacity is getting lower after about 3 longest 5 years the phone will just be replaced by a new one. Repairs are never performed even if the functionallity of the phone is still sufficient even for professional usage. What a waste of ressources!
So finally I am still very happy with my FP3 and really recommend to buy Fairphone products!
Not true. A battery replacement is offered, at different prices, event the display and some other components.
The device will be replaced sometime when the mainboard is faulty, like it happens with the FP.
The difference is that with a FP you can do it by yourself, apart for the mainboard.
Or with the use o proprietary screws.
I remember some years ago a friend asked me if I could replace the battery of her iPhone 8.
I had to order a specific screwdriver with three wings plus another one called “pentalobe”.
I don’t know now, for an iPhone 13 or 14 probably I will need an entire service center, a wind tunnel, 3 grams of scandium and 2 of titanium.
You are right and I have to correct/add my sentence: “…In case of any technical defects, even if just the battery capacity is getting lower after about 3 longest 5 years the phone will just be replaced by a new one. …” Correction/Addition: “…because of the full cost view for the company, means full administration costs and repair costs, a repair is not acceptable for the company.” Therefore they change the defect iPhone always into a new one.
If they would buy Fairphones instead of iPhones, it would be much more easier. As employer I could order for example a new battery and fix it very easy on my own. Some minutes of my workingtime, no other administration costs. Result: Lower costs and less waste of ressources.
My result: This world needs more concepts like offered by Fairphone.
For explanation: I´m just a normal user of a FP3, really no connections to the Fairphone company. I am convinced regarding for example the climate change, that we cannot go on wasting ressources and polluting the environment as we did it in the past decades. The Fairphone concept is one offer to change our behaviour without to be forced to go back into the stone age.
For sure it is possible to have a different opinion and this is acceptable for me, because it´s the free decision of every one in a democracy.
This is my assessment of things as a result of my perception of this world. I stand by it.
Well, congratulations. For me it is much more annoying as the banking app I use forces a long password (which makes sense). I don’t have to remember it because I use Bitwarden as my password manager, but I can’t unlock Bitwarden with the fingerprint sensor any more and have to use my long, secure passphrase, which is a real pain on a phone keyboard. Also, Google Pay will now often refuse the payment and ask me for my phone password before I can try again.
I have a whole list of issues, all of which are documented somewhere in this forum. Delayed SIM PIN unlock, camera taking very long to start and then often crashing, phone reboots, automatic brightness working even worse than before the update, video playback sometimes not working, the screen not turning on so I have to take out the battery, “app is not responding” errors that keep reappearing forever even though the app in question is working fine… and these are only the new problems. Old ones: the fingerprint sensor is bad, as is the camera app (and driver), WiFi with AVM routers is broken, etc. And then there are the cosmetic issues like the gap at the right of the notification bar that should be trivial to fix but just aren’t, which to me seems to suggest the devs just don’t care.
And no, I won’t do a factory reset, or install some alternative ROM, in the hope that that will fix some of the problems. I don’t have that kind of time any more. I don’t want a phone I have to babysit.
I got a 3+ two years ago and continue to be happy with it. It is also true that I am a boomer and so I am content with little as applications: banking, digital identity, parking, trains and buses, mail and various messaging, a couple of browsers, photographs. And if I use it half an hour a day already so much (as a good boomer I am addicted to desktop and not mobile, without big screen and keyboard I am lost ).
Keep in mind that unfortunately it is not enough to look for a country other than China. The dirty work of material production and assembly is always done in countries where guarantees are minimal. But even advanced countries, as Italy is considered, are actually often the scene of worker exploitation (especially in agriculture and textiles).
It is up to you and your conscience to decide what you consider morally acceptable.