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The end of Fairphone 2

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Me?
Nothing, as I wasn’t expecting any updates at all. I still use the old module.

But, tbh, your list falls way short of what I cited from the FP blog entry.

  • 2 camera modules, Ok :roll_eyes:
  • A redesigned cover due to a design fault of the original one does not count in my opinion as fulfilling the claim “we intend to offer covers with different levels of protection and/or additional functionality”. (I know, an intention is not a promise.)
  • 20 mAh larger battery (you are joking, aren’t you?) If you haven’t already, please read this post by a FP-tech guy; and maybe the thread as well:
    Revised Battery Module (FP2-BAT02)

Seriously, I am absolutely satisfied!
Yet to answer your question what I reasonably could have expected: different covers, IR-camera, NFC and wireless charging as those were expressly mentioned in the FP blog entry.

And I (and that is just me) am absolutely able to understand, that some (many?) users were expecting (or hoping for) more, because Fairphone presented this wide range of possibilities, starting with covers of different protective levels (and further functions).

On the other hand it is quite obvious, why they did not start producing that kind of stuff. Since the FP2 did not sell by the dozen per minute, the number of buyers for that kind of accessory would be limited which at the same time would have lead to raising the costs (less units, higher prices due to fixed costs). And there were of course those troubles to be fixed, that came with the new modular design (leading to a new cover a new display and a new battery). (I count the need to change the supplier as unexpected troubles to be solved as well.)

Btw: Even the 3D-printed acceossories, that were available for some time are no longer obtainable: 3D-Printed accessories are no longer available

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If we talk about the failure of delivering convincing upgrade options, I might agree with @BertG.
The pogo conector at the back of the phone still are unused, and the NFC-ready back cover is really something that would add value to the phone.

But the relation between FP2 and backcovers is… complicated at best :smiley:

As for the camera, I’m not entirely conviced by an IR camera (AFAIK only the Caterpillar S60 has thermal imaging functionnality) it’s really a niche. They would be really expensive compared to a third-party non-sustainable-masse-produced add-on. I think it was mentionned only as an exemple in the context of replacing some alternative module.

Lets find something that would gain traction and really useful and can really be used in place of the camera !

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I need to say that I like this thread. The discussion is on a high level of information an is very respectful. Thanks to all participants.

@BertG
Of course comparing a global player to a 40 employee company which currently not even offer a product to buy is not advisable. I did it on purpose and and with a little irony to give the behavior of some customers a picture. Suddenly they obviously become a nerd when the product did not match their need. I just wanted to point that out.

My FP2 had a breakdown of the core module when I was on a long vacation very far away what sets me a bit in trouble. But I can not remember any of my smartphones before were better. I honestly need to send them all in for a repair or swap, in one case three times. The first one not need any repair was the FP1. So from my point of view Fairphone is as good as other manufaturers, in view of quality.

I also like to have some more gadgets were invented for the FP2 for the still unused USB port on the backside. And I did complain that there is room for improvement in communications between the company and the community.
I will bring up this point on the #efct19

And I also think it is on us, the very proficient FP users and the Fairphone Angels to tell the complaining users what kind of product they bought and what impact their decision generated. I am sure most customers understand why the circumstances are as they are.

the number of buyers for that kind of accessory would be limited which at the same time would have lead to raising the costs

That is a kind of a doom circle: The unique selling point could have been available accessories, but to invent them ressources were needed, which were not available at that point.

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I didn’t read through the entire thread, but found it striking that it appeared so shortly after my own core module failed five days ago. I started to have the exact same thoughts again and just quickly wanted to weigh in with my own story.

I joined the FP journey with crowdfunding the first 5000 FP1, later bought a FP2. I was willing to forgive the early problems the FP1 had. Because I love the concept, I invested a significant amount during the crowdinvestment campaign last summer.
But:
In my FP2, most modules have failed at some point (core, bottom, screen (2x), battery (2x), cover (2x) or needed replacement because the originals were crappy - and still, the camera is way worse than in a regular smartphone!
I’m pretty sure my footprint is now worse than if I had bought an iPhone - many friends of mine had theirs for years! I’m not even counting all the money I had to spend so far.

That said, of course owning such an otherwise cool product is also rewarding in itself. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve taken it apart just to demonstrate to friends and aquaintances. But first and foremost, Fairphone is a project to make electronics sustainable and fair, also towards the customer. In my case, they have failed.

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We will never know this for two reasons:

  1. Apple will never reveal how many electronic devices and parts are going to waste before being sold. They surely do have a much stricter and thorough quality testing and their suppliers most likely will apply a stricter testing before shipping the parts to the factory as well. In my opinion at least FP might have a higher drop-out rate, due to less market power (i.e. testing power).
  2. No one can ever know how the phone you would have bought insteadt would have faired. After a bad experience we just tend to assume, that another decision would have been better, but would it? You might have been off worse with a battery, that goes up in flames while you have it in the sports bag in the trunk of your car, thus burning down your car, causing a major traffic jam, making you miss a vital business meeting, resulting in going bancrupt (in case you are self-employed) …

Just kidding of course.
But more important than the individual footprint is the one of the device in total.
And I just had to replace the - ill designed - first cover and two times the display (I dropped the phone and broke it both times; so no fault of FP). I am even still on the first battery with my FP 2.

Even if the environmental footprint of the FP2 should be worse than that of an IPhone.

  • There is the social aspect of labour and mining that is not addressed by apple, samsung and the like.
  • It’s a first timer when it comes to modularity and might need some time for enhancements like all technical devices do.

I wonder if that is fair towards FP?

I understand this and have done so a couple of times myself.
But you can not disassemble and reassemble a phone over and over again and wonder if at one point sooner or later the modules start to fail. It’s a fragile device and dirt as well as contacts or pins coming loose or pcb tracks breaking under stress from bending etc. can happen without notice.
Modularity is meant for repairability and upgrades and the like, not for “fun”.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to critizise, just to maybe give some other possible explanation than failure by FP.

(I really wonder, in how many cases of failure of the phone frequent dis- and reassembling might have played a role.)

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It’s true of course that an iPhone might have broken down just as well. But Apple doesn’t build its value proposition on longevity. There are other factors too of course, you mentioned them. But Apple ranked second just after Fairphone in Greenpeace’s Green Electronics Report, so they must be doing some things right too.

You raise a valid point though: I could imagine that taking the phone apart repeatedly did speed up the core module’s demise. But the other components that broke did so without external cause. My two faulty displays, for instance, showed the exact same issue, so it was probably a manufacturing problem. And the price now for reparing the faulty core module is prohibitive (at least €223)! I hope I can find a local repair store doing it more cheaply or a used module…

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Oooh. Ohhh. Lineage 15.1 (testing)

but sometimes it is really hard! As I know personally that there are many having problems with their phones although mine runs fine.
That willingness is even more put to the test as I agree to

In addition, anyone is clueless how Fairphone will continue, plus getting the impression that https://www.shiftphones.com/ has more drive.

would be interesting by what cause, manufacturing or design.

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I totally subscribe to your posting. :+1: :clap:

Just one minor point:

I guess they are not exactly open on what they are doing to make for a better press coverage, when they present their next phone or phones (I guess there won’t be tablet).
You are right with shiftphone as well.
Especially the new “mu” seems to be an interesting thing, as a likewise idea has been discussed here in this forum as well (if my memory serves me right).
On the other hand I feel reminded of the policy of all the big phone companies, with their model-policy. Since September 2015 they have (had) the 4, 5, 6, 7 and the 12 (now mu). While that of course attracts more people, as everyone finds a fitting device, it feels like switching too fast to be sustaninable,

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This is the core of the problem.

The question is whether this problem exists because of Fairphone bad communication, or because of your interpretation.

The fact that the core module is expensive or very difficult to replace, is a bummer. It is a weak spot in the FP2 design. It sucks! But it is still better than the competition (which competition?). I mean the main competition regarding the modularity strength (Fairphone has various strengths) is, I guess, Moto mods.

Nothing lasts forever, including no phone does. I suggest we’re honest and upfront about this. I’ve had countless of people ask me to explain about my FP2. I’ve given a presentation about the FP2 as well. I’ve always been honest about the fact that the core module is a weak spot in the modular design, as it is expensive to replace. There is someone (@Leo_TheCrafter) who has plans to make a replacement core module (64 bit Atom though).

Lets be clear that software-wise it can be updated through official and unofficial channels. Hardware-wide it can be updated as well, except for the core module. (Though there’s a third party effort to fix that)

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but potential is far from being exploited, despite the opinion that it might be not that interesting for the standard user, but Fairphone user standard user?
If I get to this point, explaining modular design, I feel missing something

I love that, LOS 16!

they may go the other way around, first get phones sold and move step by step towards more sustainability. At Fairphone , sustainability was and is always the focus.
I agree that shifphones is far not as transparent as Fairphone.
Surprisingly, they have been selling 35’000 devices so far, see

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I don’t find that too surprising (it’s not such a high number anyway). They started shortly after Fairphone, had different phone sizes to choose from, always a current model available, and got pretty good press coverage in Germany.

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I expected a way more, considering their portfolio

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I don’t really know if it was worth it.

  • I have always been jealous of the quality of pictures other phones produced.
  • in my 3 years of an FP2 owner I’ve never been able to take phonecalls on my loudspeaker.
  • Using my phone in the car with google maps left me with a burning hot phone and wouldn’t be reliable in routing me in time.
  • since the last android upgrade the phone essentially became unusable.
  • Fairphone support has been very quiet since Android 7. In the forum a lot of people with big problems since Android 7 are voicing unhappy customer feedback. All we get back is criticism from other happy customers and no actual advise or help.

I mean, if you foresee, that Android 7 makes the phone slow, crashing, facing customers with black screens, why not strip down the software to necessary basics and be open about it with users. I don’t need a fancy layout if the phone does it’s basic jobs.

I have been asked what i want Fairphone to see in the next future and the options were planting trees or do something other totally unrelated to software and mobile development! I have been furious.

Though i am a software tester, i am not very techy with my phone. A phone became an essential part of daily life, which has to function. If FP does not get the basics working like a fine oiled machinery, someone else will. FP is not the only sustainable brand on the market.

I had and will further support the path FP has started to pave, but as a company with consumer products you’ll need to be able to compete. If you don’t, planting trees won’t make it better.

And yes, i have read about how difficult it is to exchange the core module.

The one good thing was that i was able to replace my battery. Will i stay with FP? I don’t know.

Have you tried some of the alternatives to Google Maps?

I have, on multiple smartphones. I’ve yet to see a smartphone and maps application which doesn’t become “hot” and doesn’t use a lot of battery. Either they do that, or they’re not very accurate.

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That is not as simple as it sounds. Stripping down Android is hard, it’s a huge software with many experts at Google working at it and Apps requiring specific functionality which you cannot simply remove. As a software tester, you probably know of unintended side effects when developers change something.

However, the future is potentially brighter: Google changed a lot with Android internals, starting with Android 8 and continuing with the upcoming Android 10. Those make Android Updates a lot easier and safer in terms of reliability. I hope the next Fairphone will launch with Android 10.

You are completely right when you look at the results though: An update that makes the phone unusable is not what we want when we think of making a phone life longer. As far as I know from this forum, the update 19.05 improved the situation a bit.

Anyways, it’s time for a new Fairphone model :grinning: and maybe they should have released a updated Fairphone 2S, with a new core and Android 8 from start two years ago already. Just my opinion.

I also don’t know if the next Fairphone will be the right device to see, so let’s hope the announce something soon and see what they have to offer and what they learned.

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It’s an interesting discussion whether Fairphone “should or shouldn’t have released a new phone”. On the one hand, FP argues that they want phones to last, and that a fast release cycle is encouraging unnecessary wastage. And it’s true that this strategy has worked for all sorts of technology in the past, from cars to laptops to smartphones. On the other side it can easily be argued that ultimately the consumer can simply choose not to buy a new model.

I’m undecided on what end of the spectrum I live. I think if we look back historically, we can see that the consumer hasn’t taken the environmental impact of a product much into account. Neither has corporate; marketeers and salespeople have had zero incentive to promote such awareness, as it negatively affects sales.
So there’s an accountability void here, which is usually territory for politicians. However, on an issue like this politicians are toothless. There is no broad support for limiting the freedom of the individual in terms of autonomy over their hard-earned money. Nor is there anything we can do to make companies sell fewer units.
The fact that neither consumer, producer nor third-party entities can be tied to optimise for minimum environmental impact I think is a fundamental flaw in the free market dogma. More broadly, producers are not held accountable for the cost of a product after it’s expected lifetime (cost of recycling or processing otherwise) - so they are not incentivised to minimise this cost. Making consumers pay for this cost is tricky, as it is always an option for a consumer to not dispose of an item or dispose of it outside official channels. Some schemes exist (a deposit scheme on food containers as bottles or cans, and the Dutch “verwijderingsbijdrage” on technology are such examples), but they amount to government intervention hence should be considered a regulated market approach to society rather than a free market. A subtle difference, but these days broadly the difference between de EU27 left and right.

Coming back to the problem at hand, I think right now we can only rely on consumers making the right choice. We can already see a cultural shift mainly in a sizeable chunk of the “middle classes” (because they are the ones who can financially afford to) towards rewarding companies who make a positive impact regarding sustainability. Now that the development in the smartphone market appears to taper off, I think there could be a genuine place in the market for competitors that use reliability and durability as their unique selling point. But playing it with market forces alone will not get the general population on board. Many people have much more urgent issues, like feeding and taking care of themselves and their offspring, to have either the emotional or the financial reserves to get invested in such complex global problems.
In that light, Fairphone releasing fewer models just for the reason of not incentivising people to keep buying new phones is a red herring. The consumer base of Fairphone already consists of those people who would make the durable decision on themselves, they don’t need a company telling them to. That being said, given how Fairphone can only generate large volume orders on parts by supporting relatively few models, I can see how the one-phone-for-4-years strategy is a necessity to guarantee continuity of the company.

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Hm, only Fairphone can tell how many phones they sold in 2019 so far. But I am pretty sure that won’t be many. As FP is company and need to generate profit, it is now a hard time.
Now we can discuss what is the “right” interval for a new phone. Let’s have a look to the others. The release a new flagship model almost every year with minor improvements. Wouln’t it be a huge step forward regarding sustainability, if Fairphone release a new phone every three years?
If the majority of customers use it happily(!) for three, instead of the “normal” two year cycle, it would be a benefit. If the support ends there, still happy customers are able to use it longer. A new model after three years would generate a continuity of monetary income.
Why do I come up with such a regress?
We can see customers sell their phones, as the hard- and software is not able to match their demands anymore. If a up to date phone would be available, some would probably stay with Fairphone and continue making the brand more popular.
My believe is, that a four year or longer cycle is for now (!) not an alternative model to most of the potential customers. As a long term goal, a continuous expand of the life cycle must be a thing, but I can not see that happen for a short term goal.

Edit: Sorry, I just know see that ElKrasso posted some the same ideas just above! Sorry for the duplication.

Absolutely, and given that and a potentially higher volume fo Fairphone production, I believe it is better to produce in a :apple: like S model scheme. Maybe not yearly, but every few years, release an module with update internals (CPU, Storage, WiFi & mobile) but same externals (keep display, maybe microphone/ports, battery, accessories, compatible and pair that with upgradable modules like camera).

Why? I believe this I a better approach to fight obsolescence in a world where you cannot control the software and CPU ecosystem.

Imagine this: The Fairphone 3 is released this fall with an up-to-date mobile platform and is sold for four years without changes in the hardware platform. If you buy at release time, you can expect five years lifetime with reasonable App Supports and several Android updates. However, the hardware and software will be outdated in a few years. New OS updates will no longer be possible, new apps will demand more powerful mobile SoCs etc. But what if you buy the phone late on it’s production cycle? Can you image Fairphone is able to support a 4 year old phone for another 5 years? I mean just compare the iPhone 4 (roughly 9 years old) with the iPhone XR from last year:l. Even Apple, controlling both Hardware and Software and developing it’s own SoC cannot support it’s phones that long.
Now imagine the Fairphone releases an updated FP3S or whatever roughly two years after the FP3: Battery and Screen stay the same, accessories are compatible, but the SoC is newer and faster: The production cycle is shorter, but as a buyer you can always expect a lifetime of roughly four or five years. Because the hardware is never older than two years (compares to four years at worst case if the core is not updated for four years), at best you can expect up to two years longer fun with your device from the time you buy it.

What do you think?

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From an economic point of view that’s most likely reasonable.
I am not sure about FP; but in my opinion it’s kind of a step back.
If FP still want’s to change the market, they have to prove that this is possible. Changing the SoC every two years, in that regard, would be a step back. I don’t know, how they could manage to make that sound plausible and not like they have failed in their attempt.
Obviously, they have to find a way to keep the company in business without compromising their core-values. As I have absolutely no clue concerning their business plan and finances, I feel challenged to make a statement.
I rather hope, that they come up with some new ideas instead of “just another phone”. Maybe they are one step ahead of shiftphone and can present something like their mu soon. It might be possible, that some new gadget could attract new customers.

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