(Why) Was the Core module (n)ever available in the online shop?

Continuing the discussion from Can we build a Fairphone 2 by purchasing all its parts?:

The core module never was available in the shop.
At Fairphone they of course do have those modules. They just don’t sell it.
As to why, I could just offer some guesswork, like every other user.
if your core-module needs to be repaired, you have to return it to Fairphone.

Edit (2018-04-02): I didn’t know, but he module is available

which produces (mostly) unnecessary costs if the core module isn’t too difficult to exchange for the users - and in general doesn’t really follow the idea of the Fairphone…

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I do think the core module was shown in the shop in the very beginning, and it definitely had a price tag (well over 300 Euros). However, I think it never actually became available for buying and disappeared from the shop altogether soon after.

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EDIT for clarification (see postings below):


This must not be true.
The core module is the one with the lots of components like sensors, SOC etc. (I guess the most components are located on this module). Therefore, there are many things that can possibly break.
If you have to return your phone (i.e. core module), Fairphone can check the whole phone for errors and faulty components thoroughly and for the reasons of the error as well.

Maybe even more important:
When one component of the core module breaks, all the others can still be working fine.
Fairphone might be able to repair broken core modules by exchanging faulty components.
If you could buy a core module online, you would not be needed to return the broken one, thereby wasting valuable electronic components and resources.
With the other modules, repairability might be less of an issue.

But, as I stated before: that’s just guesswork on my behalf.

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Well, it is true.
I don’t know if the core module was ever sold, but it was listed. The price was 314€. See here.

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Sorry, you got me wrong, because @urs_lesse was faster than me in posting.
I meant to answer the post by @paradonym.

was meant in response to

I really had no intention to contradict that the core module might have been available in the shop at some time. That I haven’t noticed this means nothing of course.

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OkayOkay, why the core module is not available (anymore?) has not been answered yet.
Thats actually not so important because it is related to the question how do we get the buttons (first the power/standby-button)

Anyway I don’t want to spent 300€ for a set of new buttons. :rofl:

are they able to do that??
Like this crazy/genius dude: https://www.youtube.com/user/rossmanngroup/featured

I hope a 5-10 cent part is not responsible for a FP2 that doesn’t turn on.
(I still have 2 or 3 buttons for the FP1 which were of-the-shelf components)


Given the right tools, I guess the repair center should be able to do so. The guy on youtube you linked to is proof of that possibility; as are all those users that had their FP1 USB-ports fixed in repair shops.

I am with you, but things like that happen all the time; not that I heard it to be the case with any FP2 so far.

I share that wish as well and I have no idea, if Fairphone really would charge a new core module for a broken button. That remains to be seen. :wink:
On the other hand, the buttons are fixed to the core module (are they?) and therefore replacing them is not for the everyday-user, as it takes soldering skills to do so.
Selling them seperately therefore seems to be pretty unlikely to me.

Maybe Fairphone could start offering those kind of components for real tinkerers, although I would guess, that most parts that are soldered to the core module are standard components.

Another possibility might be one of the #fairphoneangels. Fairphone heavens might have some broken phones, that can be used as a source for spare parts like buttons.


check the high res photos from ifixit’s teardown

It seems the buttons are built into the frame connected vie pins to the mainboard.

It looks like they are easily replaceable… hopefully they had that in their mind :thinking:

that would be awesome. :smiley:

I would pay 20€ for a broken phone/core module just to tinker with it!
@BertG Thanks for the hint with the angels!

Good night


Fairphone doesn’t have to do anything crazy. They can gather faulty main modules and send them back to the manufacturer. They take them apart and reuse the working parts for the so called refurbished FP2s that are sometimes available for some hours until they are sold out again.


Although the initial question was answered meanwhile I also want to post my thoughts about this topic.


I do agree partially.

You see, I was active in the electronics manufacturing business in the past also supervising and operating pick&place machines for e.g. DC/DC converters.

It´s unbelievable how much output there is in this business with SMD technique. Those machines once setup properly operate quick and precisely. There are several things done at once with ease not even slowing down the machine. Slow-downs are only done (individually programmed) when there are sensitive parts or obstacles which has to be taken care of while assembling the board(s). E.g. big and bulky chips for not to loose them when moving. Things like validating electrical resistor values or centering the part are done along the way. Depending on the machines table size or field of operation there are usually more than only one circuit board assembled in one run like 2x/4x/6x/8x or more PCBs and probably some kind of automated feeding unit for blank layer boards.

FP only has small batches. But imagine Samsung and Apple. Workers at Foxconn do feel pissed seeing all these circuit boards being pushed out each minute where each board actually is not so expensive to be manufactured but still many of them could not afford the end product.

“I don’t know if the core module was ever sold, but it was listed. The price was 314€. See here7”

Look at the numbers. There is profit on each step (the assembly contractor also gains win). And this is for the entire phone hardware. So to break it down to the core module itself it maybe would only cost less than half of the announced prize.

Maybe (which I always think is the ecologic way to prefer). But often the economic though is dominating. Imagine how long it may take an experienced specialist (technician or engineer) to track down each system fault by individual measurement, testing and analysis and perform a repair + final test for the phone again. Time is money. It could turn out (maybe later if repairing was successful or eventually not) being cheaper to have take out a new core module from the storage…

Maybe only to registered/licensed repair shops. I believe so too, my ordered µusb socket (see below) looks just as what we have in our FP2.

…Flash the newest Software (most likely for the continuing development there are only blank core modules/only some kind of software for basic testing purpose) stored. Selling those wouldn´t make much sense.

Due to this and also other reasons very often inoperative boards while final tests are discarded without further examination (scrap rate). Having broken boards sent in for fixing may not be cheaper than for replacing entire components.


Such a single active (chip/diode) or passive (button) part in SMD type is often of very little prize (0,xxx $) and provided in quantities of “rolls” or “belts” like 500/1000 >10000 each. Depending on if it is specific for a custom run (e.g. Qualcomm cpu) or a rather common part (resistor) used more often. Sometimes also in short bars keeping 50 pcs. or so. One single part may help someone in need, but most people would not get their hands on these parts. Ordering common parts may be possible at an electronic component distributor, but not as single piece but again as explained above larger quantities.
That is not attractive for one single individual. Maybe a repair shop. But even they sometimes look out for broken/faulty boards to collect common spare parts from.

Very good link!

Yes, sometimes a broken cheap component can spoil the fun. The faulty components replaced here in the video are common maybe not worth more than 4$. I just ordered for test purposes a very common and also in this forum well known SMD micro-usb connector female. It also looks like being cut off a belt for automatic pick&place assembly (available here

https://www.reichelt.de/USB-Einbauverbinder/MIC-USB-BBU/3/index.html?ACTION=3&LA=446&ARTICLE=155041&GROUPID=7530&artnr=MIC+USB+BBU&SEARCH=mic%2Busb%2Bbbu&trstct=pos_0 )

and this belongs to a cheaper distributor selling mainly to private customers. So this part also has spoiled the fun of other FP users here.

The guy in the video states he is in this business for 10 years. Although it is very useful and detailed explained still I do miss some basics mandatory when doing electronic works, especially as service earning money. I could not see any ESD protecting wrist band grounded and also the work place itself not grounded properly as the computer was not even placed fully on any maybe protected work matt. Who knows about the office chair (yes, there
are ESD protecting types available). I have worked for a company in the 90s which has had the ESD protection chain fully implemented already and thereby could cut down its fault/scrap rate 80%. ESD failures must not occur directly at the final test but maybe manifest after some time of operation when no one even thinks about something like this anymore. That´s sometimes repairs returning from customers with faults which cause
cannot clearly be investigated.

Another vast benefit. He has a “schematic”. Has anyone else here a schematic of his personal notebook, computer mainboard or even FP2 core-module? This is a very massive help when tracking down faults. But still a lot of experience and knowledge in electronics are needed for success.
I once knew guys (aged now) fixing crt TVs, video recorders mostly without specific schematic. Later there were also guys from Russia fixing flat screens. That´s really skillful imho.

Generally spoken, broken usb 2.0 in a MacBook? I would expect in such a product to also have premium parts and design for all the money. Ridiculous. All my devices with any type of usb never failed on me also not with short-circuit as a decent usb controller covers this too. This is a hot-plugable multi purpose connection type. ESD is a central issue here. I could not see much of a protection circuitry in the schematic here. I guess Apple would had requested an arm and a leg as pay for the repair. Not funny and one more reason for me not to feed such a company.


Well, I really do hope, that Fairphone is following the environmental friendly and resources saving path on that behalf.
And I do have some reason to do so:

Adding the fact, that they already sold refurbished phones and take a very thorough, scientific and in depth approach to all their doings, I am sure, Fairphone is - for now - not just wasting core modules.
E.g. take a look at the Life Cycle Assesment report by the Fraunhofer Instsitut (November 2016)
or at the blog-posts tagged “Reuse and Recycling”

On page 30 of the Life Cycle Assesment report there is a table showing the regional distribution of the sales:

  1. Germany 36.74%
  2. Switzerland 15.91%
  3. Great Britain 11.05%
  4. Sweden 7.19%
  5. Netherlands 6.56%
  6. France 6.55%
  7. Austria 5.61%
  8. Belgium 5.53%
  9. Spain 2.13%
  10. Italy 1.44%
  11. Denmark 1.28%

Never would have guessed, that Switzerland ranks second and Sweden fourth, while Austria is seventh only. :wink:


So if FP kept going examining the environmental impact their findings may help them to improve their approach and to do better with each further step whether for their business or new technical advancements.
I do not have the impression many other phone companies put too high priority on this. Sales seem to be the main object.
But this may also be a side effect of having to satisfy share holders. I think in many ways this business model is not generally suitable for every product or service.

Where are the Swiss #localcommunities ?!?! :smiley:

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