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Why I did not buy a Fairphone

Hello,

I want to provide some feedback, explaining why I did not buy an Fairphone yet.
My intention is to help the project to get better.

I live in Germany and I really love the idea / concept behind Fairphone.
That it is a modular phone, where you can easily replace broken parts and also upgrade single parts.
And that all resources are fair trade and people (gathering the materials and crafting the phones) get a fair loan.

Two or three years ago I decided to replace my old phone, so I had a detailed look at Fairphone.
At that time the current model was the Fairphone 2.

At this time the hardware of the Fairphone 2 was verry old (outdated) but the phone still had a price of 400 Euro (if I remember correctly).
And this was far too much for such an old hardware.

This is the reason, why I bought an other phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 8), that had a similar price, but the hardware was much better.
(Below I write, why I would love to exchange this phone with a Fairphone 3, so no worries that I want to blame Fairphone).

Some months later the Fairphone 3 was announced, and I was really very angry.
If I had known this before, then I simply would have waited these months.

Currently I am very unhappy with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
There is much Bloatware (unwanted software) installed, that I can not get rid of.
And this (sorry for writing this) shitty Bixby key (hardware button) that always is pressed, when I put my phone into my phone holder on my bike.
An assistant, that is as useless as swimming gear in the desert.
(OK, swimming gear in the desert might make sense in some cases, but not the Bixby Assistant).

So I am here with a phone where I am unhappy with.
But replacing a fully working device with a Fairphone 3 is too much money.
And if I trade in my Note 8 at Fairphone, I get only some little money (if I remember correctly just 20-30 Euro).

nd what, if the Fairphone 4 is announced some months after I bought the Fairphone 3?
I know that your release cycles are multiple years, so the Fairphone 4 will be announced in some years, not in some months.

It is so frustrating.
I really want to have a Fairphone 3, a good friend of mine too and my brother is also looking for a smartphone (he still has an old Nokia, where you just can have phone calls and text messages, nothing more).

I want to provide this feedback, maybe there is some information included, that help improving the process.

Best regards

OLLI

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If the Note 8 is working well then you might just sell it second hand (and for sure get more money).

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There is a standard Android way to deal with this (never mind the /e/ forum, the method is independent of the Android flavour) … Uninstall default apps - Setup - /e/ community

This is an offer to recycle old phones to keep them from landing in the trash bin, I don’t know what more to expect from that financially.

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If you’re willing to put in the work, you can install a custom operating system to your Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - something like the bloatfree LightROM runs very light and will speed up your device significantly, and it’ll allow you to change the function of the hated Bixby button. Lots of other choices available, of course.

Alternatively, you can still get a secondhand FP2, for free if you keep an eye out on this forum for a while. Get one, buy a new battery and you’re off to the races. Android 9 is currently being rolled out to it and unless you want to be absolutely sure you’ll be able to use the latest in video games and other such CPU and graphics intensive stuff, you’ll do just fine.

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But what’s your advice? Fairphone should bring out a new phone every year, so that every time you want to buy a phone the newest version is just released? Or sell cheaper phones? Both don’t match the fair philosophy, you can’t compete with ‘Non fair’ companies, regarding price or update cycles.

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Hello all,

thank you all for your answers, I really appreciate that.

Bringing out a new phone every year is not really what I intended.
I think this conflicts with the philosophy of Fairphone (not to waste resources and make people aware that they don’t need a new phone every 2nd year).
I also wanted to keep my Note 8 for several years.

I also know, that the price of the Fairphone includes fair loans and fair materials, so constantly reducing the prices over time might be a finencial loss for Fairphone (means: reduced prices are only possible in a very limited way).

But on the other hand: the Fairphone 2 was several years old and the price was still close to the initial price (not much reduced).
And the Note 8 offered more hardware for the same price.

This is the conflict that I had.
I really wanted to support you, but the hardware was really old and too expensive (in relation to the old hardware).
But on the other hand I also know, that reducing the price will not cover the costs for material and loans.

I asked some friends, but nobody wants to have it.
So I think I just wait until the Fairphone 4 is available (in some years) and keep my Note 8 until that time.

Up to now I did not dare to do this, because I don’t know what happens, if I uninstall some Samsung Apps like the Samsung Store or the Bixby Assistant.
This is the reason, why I really considered to buy a Fairphone: it is pure android.

I fear that installing a custom rom will damage my phone (I am a specialist in chaos, and when there is a mess happening, then it is always happening to me).

Would be cool when there is a special deal for the Fairphone 3+ (like 399 Euro).
Then I really think about buying one and try to convice my brother to do the same.

Best regards

OLLI

In Germany there’s a saying: “Wash me, but don’t get me wet”. You want to support Fairphone, but don’t want to get involved with the consequences.

Well, there ist already a special deal for the FP3+, it’s 439€, or 399€ for the FP3, so go ahead, buy it :wink:.

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Well, you might offer it on the internet, where I’m sure you will find people interested.

(And just a personal sidenote: I wouldn’t try to sell something I’m not satisfied with to my friends… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

You might have a look at the second hand market. There are sometimes offers.

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Well, this seems to be the dilemma one always faces; especially when buy electronics.
It’s almost inevitable, that a product will soon be replaced by a newer one with another feature, better specs etc.
The best way to avoid this is buying something high-end when it’s brandnew on the market.
But then one has to face the fact, that the price will most likely drop soon after purchase.

I guess, that almost everyone has made that kind of experience at one or the other time in life.

In this case I would keep the Note for the time being and wait for the Fairphone 4 to hit the market in 2 or 3 years latest (just my guess). By then the Note might be at the end of it’s lifecycle anyways and it’s the solution, that is most in line with Fairphone principles (in my opinion).

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Wait, is this about a price difference of € 40,-? If so, it is actually quite an elaborate way of haggling.

Sidenote:

Actually, given your description of the start of a race to the bottom (buy brand new high end phone, get disappointed after a year, buy brand new high end phone, …) it is ofcourse not really ‘the best way’. The only best option is to change your expectations of what a smartphone should be able to do.

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The price is not just due to fair materials, you also have to consider that Fairphone produces quite small numbers of devices compared to the big companies.

When I decided to buy a FP2, having a bloat free and open system with not too much Google software was important, as well as being able to root the phone without losing warranty. An additional plus which I discovered only later were the software updates (android 7 and now 9).

Maybe we should stress these aspects when communicating the Fairphone benefits to others …

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You are aware, that is in no way what I was saying?
I just stated the fact that you can’t have the cake and eat it too.
Either you have the latest device or you have one at a reasonable price.

And in my opinion there is no “best” way, that I could define, as this is an individual decision.
While one is willing to pay a higher price to get high-end, another one choses lower specs at a lower price.
Getting both is just a very rare case of luck (and more often fraudulent online-shops :wink: ).

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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.

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Thanks for what appears to be a genuine a expression of the suffering caused by our kind that few want to acknowledge. If each of us will not burden the responsibility there will be little of any value to communicate so who needs a sophisticated phone to communicate more dumb ideas dressed up as advancement.

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The idea of Fairphone really is not to have every autumn a new model and get rid of the old one. I bought my Fairphone 2 four years ago - and I don’t have the intention to replace it with Fairphone 3, but perhaps in two or three years against Fairphone 4 (hopefully). Fairphone 2 wasn’t the best option - technically speaking - four years ago. But I never have regretted buying it at a price of almost 600 €. If I will use it for two more years, it will have cost me 100€ per year, which is certainly not unreasonable.

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Nice input!
My recommendation actually would be to keep the Samsung even after buying the FP3(+) at least for a while. Yes, the FP really feels like pure android+google service but bug removal partly seems to be manufacturer job and with Android 10 there came up some more or less cosmetic inconveniences up to non functional phone calls (which should be eliminated by the latest update A.0084). So better see for yourself and verify those work for you.
Once you are on the Fairphone Train, the lifecycle is fine for me. We had about 4 years between release of FP2 and FP3, and the camera upgrade came pretty much 1year later both times. It motivates to keep your phone for at least its promised 5years. (Let’s ignore the 2 years of FP1 which wasn’t designed by FP)

I approve that Fairphone advertises “the most sustainable phone is the one you already got”.
In case you want to be prepared for FP4 and you don’t get any news but your old phone becomes broken, probably consider buying a used or refurbished phone of any brand in order to overcome some time. I feel quite confident to promise - the FP4 will be there :wink:


In case you miss the train, I want to stress that it might become quite challenging to make some parts of your phone live the minimal target of 5 years. So your monetarian consideration can’t be washed away easily. I wouldn’t have recommended buying a FP2 in 2018 either. With the FP2 pretty much 5years after release we experience the bottom module to become unavailable directly through Fairphone. Of course this shouldn’t encourage you like buying a second FP just to have the spare parts. And aside, it still is an economic+ecological question to reinvest in an aged hardware like doing a screen replacement. But if there is a phone out there to do so, it is a Fairphone. Reading about them entering Android 9 with the FP2 is quite impressive, thus covering security updates and software compatibility for the near future.
The Fairphone Angles imo are a big deal in making a long lived phone work for everyone: at best locally being able to check on the deffective hardware before buying replacement is what makes the damage calculable monetarily with a precision of 1ct. And this is what makes FP unique imo as quality of replacement parts or installation is not an issue - once you bought some replacement, especially a screen, it is like you are back to day 1 with a new phone.

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