i’ve got my fairphone seven days ago and i wish to tell you why i
decided to buy one and what i think about it after one week of use.
History and how i came to my fairphone
This is my second smart phone. I’ve used a Galaxy S before for exactly
four years. (It is defect now since i took it into water four weeks ago.
It worked fine after drying but one day before my new fairphone arrived,
the speaker finally broke. Hey Fairphone: perfect timing!).
I used it with cyanogenmod (always latest stable version) and replaced
the battery after two years. Especially the cyanogenmod rom allowed me
to use the phone for that long time because it made the phone very
stable and fast. From my view, the Galaxy S is one of best phones ever.
But beside the consequences of the swimming session, the limited
capacity of CPU/RAM and scratches on the camera forced me to look for a
new phone in april 2014.
I use a smart phone mainly for one reason: to get calendar, phone,
camera and navigation system in one device. It has to be
- customizable, extensible (root access, SD-Cards!)
- fair to people and environment
- and had to fit into the very stable car holder that i own since my
Nokia 6120 Navigator.
I was looking for some time but there were only a few phones that i
would choose (S4, S4 Mini, Z1 Compact) but they were too large, too much
limited in hardware, too expensive and/or made by sony ( sorry, but i
will NEVER again buy something made by sony!).
So i came to the fairphone. As an IT professional, i follow IT news
tickers and product tests every day and this way i heard about the
fairphone very early. But when the first batch was sold, my old phone
still worked… However, the idea behind is great, all tests said the
phone “is good enough” and so i decided to get one of the second batch.
Hands on and comparison to my old Samsung Galaxy S (SGS)
After 3 months impatient daily fairphone blog checking and waiting i got
it! First impression: Heavy! The SGS has a weight of 120g, the fairphone
about 165g! But it feels “valuable”.
After inserting SIM and Power up i tried to put it into the blue cover
which was delivered some weeks ago. But even after one week of use and
some bending, the cover won’t fit correctly. Also the holes for
headphones and USB are too small. Most of my cables don’t fit. (I will
use my tools in the next days to correct this). Also, on the first days
the power button was repeatedly pressed by the cover.
Some remarks to the device , according to the requirements listed above:
The phone runs great. I had no bad experiences so far. The starter menu
is a matter of taste but you can always place your favourite apps on the
desk. (Thanks, android!). The phone reacts quickly. All software works
as expected. My preferred navigation app runs great now. On my old phone
it often crashed due lack of memory. I’ve also read about some GPS
issues before but i experienced no problems. (I use GPSTest Plus to
check the phone’s GPS capabilities and it shows many satellites after
few seconds. TTF is low, even on disabled AGPS/Wifi location support).
The size is ok. I can use the phone with one hand. But it should not be
bigger. Normally i wear my phones in the rear pocket of my jeans. For
this, the fairphone a bit to large and to heavy. On the other hand… if
your trousers feels light you know you forgot something to take with you
In comparison to cyanogenmod the customisation options are limited. So
one of the first apps i installed was the exposed frame work with the
gravity box module. There are a lot useful options. E.g. you can enable
the screen layout to all four directions. This enables you to put your
phone in the car holder with the USB connector located at the bottom,
towards the charger. No cables will be in your view or bend around the
Another useful app is “light flow” which allows you to control the
three-coloured notification LED of your phone. You don’t need to turn
the display on to check mails, SMS, missed calls or battery status.
After two days i noticed a significant higher battery drain than my old
phone. There were two reasons: misconfiguration and a "untrained"
battery. (A LiPo Battery needs some de/charge cycles to get its full
capacity). After some corrections i expect now a runtime about 7 days.
This is close to my old SGS which held 10-12 days with new battery, 3
days after swimming).
You may wonder how i get to this times, but there are things i typically
don’t do with my phone. Since i sit in a office the whole day in front a
PC with firefox, thunderbird/lightning and AIMP3 i don’t need to hear
music, browse the internet or view videos on my phone. Calendar,
contacts and mail sync on phone is done manually if required. The data
connection is turned off most time. At home i use Wifi which is much
more efficient than UMTS.
One of the biggest power consumers beside the display is - TADA :
Google. Turning of data synchronisation and google location services
will massively extend your battery life and privacy!
Conclusion after one week
There are only a few things i miss from my SGS:
- an eyelet for the loop i always had attached to my phones. It saved my
SGS several times from falling down. If your phone slips of your hands
you have a good chance to grab the loop and catch the phone before it
smashes on the ground. You can also hold your phone more safely when taking
photos over water or on large buildings.
The fairphone corp. should think about it for the
FP2 because this may substantially extends the lifetime of a phone. Maybe
you can also provide a modified FP1 housing?
- the great AMOLED display (btw. the fairphone display isn’t bad!)
- the unbeaten customisability of cyanogen mod
- the hardware keys are not lighted. if you hold your phone in the dark
you don’t know where top and bottom is and where the buttons are located.
But all in all, this is great piece of hardware. I hope it works at least
the time my old phone made.
Toughts about fairphone marketing
I have been talking to many people about sustainable, eco-friendly,
responsible living and consuming. Not only focused on electronic devices or
gadgets. My feeling is, many of them see and understand the problems
which were are currently faced (environmental, social). Many of them
also want to act responsible. They care about it, but you have to tell
them what they can do. They don’t know about the “right” products, in
many cases they even don’t think about basic facts when buying
something. Most decisions are primary made on pricing because other
facts are unknown.
In my opinion, more information must be pushed to the mainstream. The
basic goals of fairphone should be explained there. (Btw.: this problem is
not limited to fairphone). I know it is expensive, but a TV spot which
illustrates in drastic pictures the fundamental problems in the industry
and promises the fairphone as part of the solution could help.
So far, thanks for reading and sorry for my untrained english