English

The end of Fairphone 2

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e9770> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e92c0> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e8e88> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e8a50> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e87a8> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e8460> #<Tag:0x00007f05df8e8190>

Thanks for your opinion. I’d like to understand better:
Why do you thuink that sounds like a failure? What did they want to change in the market that you cannot change with an update model every two/three years?

This is all that matters to me: a phone that was launched in 2015 and that is still fully functional in 2019. I expect to upgrade my two phones to 7.0 during summer and keep using them for a few more years.

It’s amazing.

Never had a smartphone before that could keep walking the line like this one, still solid, still looking like new, despite always using only its own case, no need for extra protection.

Seriously, this is a totally different product, a whole new engineering concept, like when good products where built for a lifetime of use.

My previous phones would look like trash after just a couple of years, always.

Proud owner of what I consider to be a great example of successful robust engineering, done the right way, and despite all the ridiculous “modern” constraints (programmed obsolescence) mentioned above.

Keep rocking Fairphone, you’re the best!

5 Likes

Well, let me try to answer that question.
To me it would look like a failure, as they started to change the market and stop enticing people to buying a new phone every two years.
In my opinion if there’s a new SoC / update model every two years, it’s generating unnecessary demand and consume. Although the older model still is working fine, many will buy an update model just because it’s “better”. At least that was my impression, when FP presented the new camera module.
There might even be more demand, since the new update model is cheaper than a complete new phone. And it’s a Fairphone, so one is doing something good / the right thing, getting new stuff.
I really don’t know, if I have put it right, so I try another explanation as well:
It seems like keeping the “waste cycle” alive, only on a smaller scale, as it’s not a whole phone, but “just modules” that are thrown away although still working fine.

5 Likes

I’ve given this some more thought, and honestly I don’t think it is. The problem is that I can’t explain it in a soundbyte.
I’ll try and keep it brief. Say, I create a phone now with the latest greatest SoC and say “this’ll last you five years”, I make that claim based on a a combination of a prediction of future requirements on a phone, and wear-and-tear of the physical thing. With proper design, you can get close to guaranteeing the latter, but the former is more problematic.
Two years later, the most likely event would be to look at the specs of this phone and say “well, it seems tech has advanced just like predicted, so I believe if you buy this phone now, it’ll last you three years”. That’s a problem. Or worse: “Whoa, we didn’t anticipate how important X was going to be… sorry, but you might really only get 1.5 years of fun out of this phone if you buy it now”. If you look at it, this is kinda what happened to the FP2.
Really, if we want peoples phones to last 5 years, we want them to last 5 years from purchase, not 5 years from design. And that could well mean that two years after conception you’d have to make a bigger overhaul to the product, essentially release a new one, to make such a promise credible in the light of technological advances.

What is crucial here is that when I buy my Fairphone N now, and in two years time FP releases Fairphone N+1, I shouldn’t be tempted to buy one straight away. Sure, it’s newer, faster, more power efficient, but that’s not my primary concern. The right mindset should be to care about longevity; I should be able to continue using my phone without this “fear of missing out” that marketeers try to bestow upon us. And as long as I’m happy with my Fairphone N, it does what I want it to do, and Fairphone keeps supporting it for as long as needed (like, 5 years from purchase), I should take pride in rocking it to the bitter end!

I think we’re actually on the same page, but where you seem to believe (and correct me if I’m wrong!) that FP should force a long lifecycle of a phone upon us by slowing down the release cycle significantly, I fear that FP will shoot itself in the foot and scare off new customers after 1-2 years by doing so. Ideally the consumer takes its responsibility and takes pride in stretching the life of their items, but FP is a lone advocate for this mindset in a world where consumption is encouraged 24/7.

I wonder if this slow release cycle strategy works in practice. Mainly because the whole smartphone market is bigger than just Fairphone. Even in the niche of relatively fair phones there’s been one or two younger, shinier and better spec’d models. 'd You reckon that by the logic that “if it’s available, people will buy it” many FP2 users might have ditched theirs after 2 years and jumped ship to get another phone? Or do you suspect that the Fairphone customer could actually withstand the lure of the siren and keep theirs?

6 Likes

We sure are.
You of course are right, that the consumer is responsible.
And I could agree, that a new model might be needed, if there in deed is some important development. So far - as I perceive it - it’s generally just shinier, more fancy stuff that’s nice to have, but not needed.
FP customers sure are aware of social and environmental problems (hopefully) and don’t jump ship that easily. Yet, I suspect, that a large number would go and buy a newer / shinier / more fancy module, if it comes with the feel-good lable of “fair”. And it obviously would be better than buying a complete phone, but it would be worse than keeping the old phone for a few more years.
I sure see the problem to attract customers with an old phone. Maybe that could be overcome by decreasing the price over time.
In addition a new model could be launched every 3 or 4 years. But a complete new phone, not just a new core-module. This way one has to decide: Do I really want and need a new phone or is mine still doing fine. And if one opts for a new phone, the old one can be sold and used by someone else. If I switch just the core module, this most likely will end in the bin, as the market for used (old) core modules seems quite limited; replacing broken ones is the only use I can imagine (might be a lack of fantasy of course).
By that model policy of decreasing the price for the old one and bringing on a new one every 3 to 4 years, there would be two models in a different price range.

In the end it’s all a question of the business plan and analysis, FP for sure has made. They will have to sell an increasing number of phones without sacrificing their core values.
If and how a slow release cycle works in this regard, I don’t know either.

2 Likes

If the people buy a Fairphone they made their way to fair produced electronics. If they use it for more than two years they also made their way to sustainable electronics. I think we cant judge people for their requirements. If they need an up to date phone for whatever reason, its fine if they buy the next Fairphone, if it is AVAILABLE. If not we will loose them and any work of the company and the commmunity is for nothing in that case. Have a look how many quit using a Fairphone. And we only now about the fair guys who made a post here in this forum. I guess at least some of them would likely buy an evolved and up to date Fairphone.

Fully agree. Other than I mentioned above, there are people who just do not want and/or need a better phone. Thats also fine. They should get their five years of support.

My believe is for the future of Fairphone, that there is not the one customer, who is satisfied using the device as long as it last. There are many facets of customers with different needs.
Lets bring them together with updated modules, long software support, a loyal community and a fucking good phone every two or three years.
Better they buy a fair phone than a child labour, 18 hour shift, maximum pollution generated and warlord friendly, shitty phone that lasts just a year or till the first drop.

1 Like

Android smartphone manufacturers are improving in this regard. With regards to Apple, it is the iPhone 5s and iPhone SE.

These are from September 2013 and March 2016 respectively. The latter received upgrades till iOS 12 (phased out this year by iOS 13). There’s a rumor that Apple will release a new ‘smaller’ iPhone this year. We don’t know till how long the iPhone SE will stay supported, but I’d say that Apple did a damn good job supporting the iPhone 5S for a whoppin’ 5 years.

Keep in mind the Fairphone 2 is much more than a device with supported firmware. It is modular. It is ethical. None of the above smartphones could say such, although according to a Greenpeace report Apple is doing very well with regards to the environment.

A company that promotes the most outrageous business model of “get the newest one or you’re utterly uncool” is all except a promoter of sustainability. A few reminders of Apple’s true colors:
https://www.wired.com/story/apple-iphone-battery-slow-down/
https://mashable.com/2012/10/29/apple-lightning-micro-usb/?europe=true

2 Likes

iPhone 5S and SE didn’t suffer from the battery slow down.

The case against Apple Lightning is weak because microUSB has severe weaknesses. They seem to be (finally) switching to USB-C.

You can make many arguments against Apple though such as their locked down NFC.

Apple is terrible with repairability and right to repair. I’d argue these 2 puppies don’t die so quickly because they fit the hand better than all these near tablet-size smartphones.

However, we were discussing the software support of smartphones, and in that regard these 2 iPhone devices hit the mark.

This! I agree, I do not believe Fairphone buyers need to be protected from themselves by not releasing uodated models. Better (speaking of specs) and cheaper phones will be released ever month by tens of other companies. As a customer, of I want a faster phone, I will buy one, be it a Fairphone or not.

3 Likes

True, but they could be used for repair or refurbished phones. I thought compability would be required to ensure spare part availability by increased volume and demand.

1 Like

Honestly the guys at Fairphone should take some time (and I suppose they do) to do some retrospective on the design decisions of FP2 and analyze what could have been done differently. For example: was modularity a good choice at the end ? Great idea on paper, but did we really ever have a parts market as we wished for at start ? How many people took advantage of it and how many ended up with malfunctioning devices because of modularity ? Wasn’t reliability maybe a more important feature to stress on ?

I’ve a Samsung S3 at home, it’s 7 years old and works like a charm. You can throw it to the wall and will continue to work without problems, will continue to get GPS fixes in less time my former Fairphone was ever able to do, in other words will continue to do its job. So what’s more environmental friendly, a 7 years old S3 or a 4 years old FP2 that falls apart because hey, it’s already 4 years old ?

I read this forum since many years now (and I do that even after having sold my FP2 some time ago, because the ideas shared here to me are more interesting that owning the phone itself) and if I would need to picture the typical Fairphone user I would end up with somebody not interested in bell&whistles, not attracted by the cutting-edge hardware, environmental and social aware, but moreover somebody that wants the damn thing to work. Did Fairphone really deliver to such kind of users ?

Please don’t take it as a critic or a rant, it’s just a retrospective (after all this years, it’s the right time to do it). I still fully respect the original ideas and the great people who contributed to make it reality.

5 Likes

I must say I’m reading all this with great pleasure. Thanks everyone for really taking my message seriously and puting in some much thought, ideas and information. I hope FP-HQ is reading along; some valuable suggestions are being made here!

Indeed, as is already explained somewhere above, ‘raised expectations’ would’ve been a better choice of words then ‘promise’. But it did have the intended effect.

2 Likes

They did. At least in one case - mine.

3 Likes

Ah, a comparison with a device I also happened to own. The Samsung S3 was a flagship device at the time of sale. Not sure how much it cost me back then, but IIRC it was like 500 or 600 EUR (for a non-ethical phone, so you can assume all the workers who made the parts got minimum wage and were treated like cattle, or should I say “human resources”…).

Hardware-wise, it was great (well it did have the cracks in the case right from the start; a design flaw). At least you could say that hardware-wise it was a flagship device. Software-wise, it had a lagging version of TouchWiz, and support was dropped after what was it, 1 year? If you compare that to how Fairphone (a very small company, in contrast to Samsung) dealt with software updates, its crystal clear who did a better job. Also, I really doubt your 7 year old Samsung S3 still receives firmware updates. Secure it isn’t. In fact, I’m curious what kind of OS you are running on your Samsung Galaxy S3. Because I couldn’t get Android 6 running on it well a few years ago already.

1 Like

Hi, I’m using LineageOS 14.1-Android 7 on the S3, but Lineage 16-Android 9 is also available. That’s a secondary phone though, I just used it as an example Fairphone may follow to favor reliability and longevity.

Regarding workers treated like “cattle”, I fully support Fairphone idea, but it’s a separate discussion from quality/reliability. I guess we can have good quality phones built by workers treated with dignity, right ?

On the other side, speaking about that, if you would be really on the side of the workers you should change your phone every year or more, or they’d run out of work. How do you conciliate this with the “keep it as long as you can” Fairphone mantra ?

2 Likes

Right, thanks, but that isn’t an official LOS build. It is something else (I’ll post proof of that later on).

How does it make sense to compare such unofficial, warranty voiding with a small company like Fairphone who still do give software updates on their 4 years old device. The comparison here is 1 year official support versus 4 years.

What kind of security updates does that 2 year old LOS version still receive?

If I go to

https://download.lineageos.org

I can see that it isn’t officially supported since it isn’t listed at the Samsung list. Given that it doesn’t have enough RAM (which I know and experienced first hand when I did put Android 5 or 6 on it, for my mother in law) its going to be either an out-of-date Android version or an insecure one.

Here on

https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/i9300

It reads:

There is no official, maintained version of LOS anymore for SGS3.

If you run the official firmware from Samsung on this device you’ve been vulnerable to Stagefright since 2015.

That’s because it isn’t a simple comparison; it is a complex one where you carefully weight each of the pros and cons.

Perfectionism is the enemy of good. That saying is also true for Scotsmen.

What you say is also a “good” argument of why any company should be against the right to repair. I mean, “why help your customer repairing their current device when you can get them a new one?” Because a satisfied customer comes back. You can ask them a premium price then. Long term thinking involves vision and well-being for the years to come. Short term thinking is egocentric, and involves the shareholders greed solely. The latter isn’t going to work on the long term. That’s why I’m so disappointed in Apple, and why I tend to buy Miele as those just longer than the competition (at a price).

2 Likes

As long as employees even at the Fairphone plant work 60-hour work weeks, I don’t think there’s a very strong argument in claiming workers will run out of work if we slow down our consumption.

3 Likes

And if a better Fairphone is availlable the customer would probably stay with Fairphone.

Mine did not fall apart at all. This is relatet to how I handle it.

That is only one kind of a customer type. There are more.

I am sure they do, if not I will tell them on the #efct19

But which manufacturer is behaving so?

I couldn’t have said better :+1:t3:

3 Likes

True in general.
That’s, why the companys are aiming at satisfied customers, that buy a new model of theirs every other year. Seriously! They work really hard, to attract you with advertising new stuff/features all the time (like rounded display sides), to buy their latest phone, even though the recent one is doing just fine.

FP would not take those used parts for repairs, as they have no knowledge of possible flaws and they would be held accountable.
Plus: who would want the broken core module replaced with an used old one, if there is a shiny new and better one.
Take the FP2 cameras. From this forum I got the impression, that quite a few bought new cameras just out of curiosity etc. Old ones still were seldom on offer in the market or were given away for free. I can’t remember a thread, were such an old camera module was effectivly sold; though it very well might have happened.