I’ve joined the forum with the objetive of explaining what rationale I followed in order to decide not to buy a Fairphone. I’m doing this in an attempt to help the Fairphone team to improve, since I suppose I could represent the way some potential clients (“sales leads”) are thinking. These are the topics that I reviewed to help me decide to buy a Fairphone or not, in this order:
Some research convinced me that so far Fairphone is the best choice if I wanted to have some influence in trying to create a fairer market and working conditions for several people around the world. So regarding this point, good job of the marketing team and the Fairphone staff (for example I read some interviews with Fairphone personnel and they seemed OK).
Regarding this point I think the team should keep ensuring that the web and media reflects that Fairphone is continuously trying to make things better: my only doubt was that some of the actions (pictures of a visit to Congo, for example) seemed to be quite old, but of course since I also saw new actions (Uganda gold, for example) this only meant that the company has a tradition of good practices, which is perfect.
After using some comparison webs I had the impression that FP2 was way more expensive that mobiles that had much better technology. I found that the price breakdown at the web page wasn’t updated to the current price of 400€, and it didn’t mention other companies or the market situation as a whole. Therefore, I had the feeling that it didn’t properly explain why the difference with other companies was so huge. As a point of improvement, I think marketing could try to justify why this gap exists, and provide a thoughtful explanation at the web.
In any case, I decided that the price was more or less OK for me anyway, while not feeling all that happy about it. In summary, I think the price gap with other companies wasn’t properly justified.
Next I checked the web in search of opinions about rooting the device, installing alternative OSs… In this regard I was convinced that with FP2 I would have much more freedom that in any other company, specially with Fairphone Open (for example I had the impression that I could actually try to have a Google-free phone). So I think this point is perfect for the “techie user persona” and I don’t see clear points of improvement: good job of the community, IT and marketing teams.
So far I have only had two smartphones that lasted about 5 years each. I understood that Fairphone was aiming to be long-lasting, so I wanted to check if I could use it for 5-7 years. Sadly I had the impression that this wasn’t possible, and that the modular design didn’t help. For example, I checked if FP2 supported Galileo, and apparently not only it didn’t but the modular design was not going to allow to add that support, since the core module is not modular. The current FP2 processor was already outdated technology, and I had the feeling that this was kinda hidden in the Fairphone web.
By buying a much cheaper mobile by other company with current technology, I had a better chance to use the mobile for more years than with a FP2. I had the impression that Fairphone wanted to support the device for a long time, for example with Android updates, but that they apparently abandoned FP1 hardware support was a warning for me.
As a point of improvement, I think marketing could try to state what are the future plans for the company and try to be more honest about the longevity of the device. For example, I found confusing comments about a possible future FP3 and no clear plan with support dates and overall strategy.
At this point I had some doubts but I still wanted to buy the phone because of what I perceived its strong points: social values and software freedom. Last thing I was going to check is device reliability. I was going to buy outdated technology, with what it seemed a high probablity of being abandoned in the next years, at a very expensive price. Therefore, I wanted to make sure that at least the phone was going to work properly during that time. Sadly I was disappointed. Based on the forum and other webs, I had the impression that the mobile has a very low hardware quality with a high failure rate. I don’t know if this is a point of improvement for marketing, technology, or support team, because I couldn’t find real transparency in the web. Is FP2 failing more than other companies or not? I would need to know the truth to suggest improvements:
If there is really low quality, maybe marketing team could write a rationale for it and then I could even side with the Fairphone. For example if there is a reason for a modular design to fail more often, or other companies are served better quality components because of their financial pressure over the chinese manufacturers, whatever. Of course, the best solution would be to increase investment in quality checks or the manufacturing process, but I guess this would be very expensive. Maybe Fairphone could offer some statistics to show if the reliability is improving with time, or what is the evolution of technical bugs being dealed with.
If quality is similar to other companies, maybe the investment in the support team could increase. I read suggestions in the forum “to better call support instead of opening a ticket because those are sometimes ignored” and I knew I didn’t want to deal with international calls in order to solve any possible problem. Maybe Fairphone could offer support in different languages, in an attempt to convince potential clients that their possible technical problems will be easy to deal with. Other point of improvement would be to offer clear information about how these problems are dealt with: how much does it take to send a part to different world regions? what is the cost of sending the phone to be fixed? What are the typical times for the process of exchanging the phone?
In summary, I wanted to buy this phone because of social values and software freedom, even though I felt that the huge price wasn’t properly explained, but I decided not to do it because it seems that it won’t last long enough (5 years), it’s technologically faulty and possibly not properly supported for its rate of failure.
Obviously I may be totally wrong on my assumptions, but I hope that if anybody in the marketing, IT, support, manufacture or any other Fairphone’s team read this, I would help a little. In any case, for sure I’ll come back in the future to check if I can buy or recommend a possible FP3, and I wish the company the best of luck.