This is quite an interesting topic and I find it’s a good opportunity to think about the conditions that influence our decisions on what we buy and why. I have a completely different opinion about most of OP’s points (which don’t really support the case of not buying a FP anyway?). We both live in Germany so there are some similarities in our lives with the obvious difference that I own an FP(3) and she/he does not. I sometimes discuss the FP3 with non-FP-owning friends and, as with most sustainable, “organic” (“Bio-”) purchases, the decision towards these products is mostly ideological and/or to ease one’s conciousness, making the purchase a very personal (=lifestyle) choice. Nothing will ever change outside of your personal sphere based on your decision to purchase a more expensive phone with worse hardware, mostly because tons structural incentives created and retain a destructive and fast-paced market that only enables a small and privileged minority (hey there everyone!) to put thoughts and money towards something like “ethical” electronics to feel better about themselves. That being said, of course it’s worth supporting these tiny islands of hope and progress in the sea of despair and destruction that is modern capitalism if you have the means to do so.
Still, there are advantages to buying a FP but those are different from those that you are supposed to care about according to the phone market and advertising. According to them, you are supposed to care about: The price, the size of the bezels of your screen, the flatness of the case, the amount of cameras, the absolute latest design and hardware and the integration with the google’s or apple’s ecosystem. Meaning: Flashy bling-bling and really short life-cycles. Some of the reasons are pretty convincing, especially since apple seems to kind of prioritize secure hard- and software nowadays. Additionally, the market is structured in a way that makes most disadvantages invisible to you as an end-user.
You must think about the discrepancies of the current phone market with what Fairphone offers. This company tries not to hide the true costs of phones, mainly slave labour and exploitation of the global south and earth’s limited resources. Why would you complain about the price of the FP3 when you know that the price of current conventional phones is mostly hidden and tightly bound to the extent of the suffering the production of your personal items creates. The other cost of regular phones are of course, as you already pointed out, your personal data. You do not pay Xiami etc. with cash but with telemetry and attention wasted with useless bloatware and being locked in their ecosystem.
Before the FP3, I used a dumbphone but being a technologically inclined person, just abandoning all the advantages of a handheld computer with a giant ecosystem of interesting and useful software etc. didn’t sit right with me after a while. What I and probably many people on here care about are: Long lifecycles of hard- and software, freedom from telemetry, spy- and bloadware, the ability to use free and open source software that will make my life easier without the fear of constant surveillance, free access to the bootloader to use a custom operating system and also: education about modern electronics. I have more control over the hard- and software that I use daily with the hope that I won’t have to replace it in 2 years due to planned obsolescence. As you might know: “Wer billig kauft, kauft zweimal”. It’s possible that, after five years, the Fairphone turns out to be cheaper than 2 or 3 200€ conventional smartphones you’d use up during this time, but that’s just not how the market works due to the incentives set by the market makers. An andectote: The only “real” computer expert I know also owned the oldest laptop of all the people I know, a 10 year old shitty netbook and he was completely happy with it. The amount you can do on some hardware is often not limited by how recent the components are.
Thinking about sustainability in the electronics market also means thinking about sustainable software, which mostly means the ability to receive updates for an extended period of time. Developers cost money even after you’ve sold the last phone they develop software for. Software for older phones costs money which is why you won’t receive any OS updates on cheap phones long before the actual hardware breaks. There are probably a lot of really smart people working on hardware that breaks just in time with the end of a life-cycle of a phone’s software. Think of printers that have a dedicated chip that bricks the whole device after a set amount of pages printed.
From a business standpoint, which I know absolutely nothing about, Fairphone has to balance quite a few things to make this work. They fight an uphill battle as a tiny company in a super competetive market dominated by giant high-tech companies that have complete control over the industry. Phones and the operating system they run are immensely complex and creating a (kind of) competetive product that challenges the conventional phones with limited downsides looks like an almost impossible challenge to me. They know there’s a tiny minority of people (they sold what, ~90k FP3s?) who care about sustainability and have the mental capacity to research and think about their purchases for days or weeks and the financial means to realize them. They also decided not to create a high-end device, but a mid- to low-tier phone with a price range many people consider as appropriate for a phone. They still have to market their product with tons of feel-good messages to a young and wealthy inner-city demographic because the potential buyers have to actively disregard the real disadvantages in the day-to-day handling of their devices. It’s like using Linux: There are a billion reasons to prefer a free and open source operating system to Windows and iOS but holy shit sometimes I wish things it would just work out of the box without me having to dig through forums for hours to make bluetooth work or whatever. But this also forces you to empower yourself and so I sufficiently convinced myself to choose one thing over the other. There’s a ton of ideology distorting our thinking on both sides the spectrum of conventional vs. ethical electronics, with conventional electronics taking up the lion’s share of creating false and harmful narratives. In the end, you weigh up advantages and disadvantages based on what you care about (not forgetting to think about why you care about it) and come to an informed decision.
I know this is all vastly more complicated but I really need to stop procrastinating now, urgh…
Finally: As others pointed out, there’s a huge market for 2nd hand phones. You can check refurbished phone stores, ebay-kleinanzeigen etc. to either buy a FP3 or sell your old phone. Also, there’s a discount on the FP3 right now. As a tip: The camera of the FP3+ still kind of sucks, so using a regular FP3 might be just fine for you.