It's still running software made by Google and we all know for whom and for what purpose Google makes software.
Amsterdam-based Fairphone describes its devices as sustainable. iFixit took its selection of tools to one and found that, hey, you can make phones that are at once not rubbish and also repairable. Now into its third iteration since 2013's first phone, the device should be the answer to the prayers of those who miss the old …
I'm not fan of Android, but there aren't any other mobile operating systems you could install on it. Well, aside from non-Googly versions of Android as mentioned. You could argue they should ship with that, but it would turn off a lot of customers who expect to see Google's apps on an Android phone. Many people are willing to trade privacy for convenience. Their choice, not my problem.
How about SailfishOS, LineageOS, PureOS, Tizen, Plasma Mobile, Ubuntu Touch..
You might as well argue "Many people are willing to trade bad working conditions for a good price. Their choice, not my problem".
If you do a Fairphone, do it right and use sane defaults.
Shows what can be done. I think it's a little unfair to criticise on the basis that the processor can't be swapped - the pin pitch on those things in tiny and needs specialist kit and skills to replace. The module level is a sensible bottom line for serviceability.
The bigger question I think is the availability of parts two, three or five years down the road.
It seems that at least five people think that the Fairphone people can't go bust, but decline to state why Fairphone should be immune to the laws of economics. Based on past performance, there are very few people who want the product. This is simply a fact. Are there enough users to keep the company afloat? And why is it that merely asking the question is a bad thing?
Are there enough users to keep the company afloat?
You did spot the '3' in the device name, right? They seem to have done just fine for two iterations so far. Better than most.
And why is it that merely asking the question is a bad thing?
It's not that just asking this question is a bad thing per se, it's that usually (and I mean like >90% of the time) it's coupled with a bold declaration that the thing is not/can never be sustainable/profitable/useful in the real world. And usually these bold declarations don't even come with spreadsheets backing up their economic forecast. I know right! You'd almost be driven to reflexively think people asking this were troll-types who have nothing better to do than naysay a group who are trying to actually do things a little differently / ethically.
For me, releasing a third device seems to indicate that they know what they're doing. And if not, I'm sure they can come here or to slashdot and get professional-grade advice on this economics stuff for free :)
Where is the 'bold declaration'? I asked a bloody question, which has not been answered. Yes, they say they'll support it for 5 years; my question was, and is, will they be around in 5 years? They have a lot of progressive ideas, but so far have not sold that many devices. As I understand it, Apple or Samsung sell more devices in a month than they have in the six years that they've existed! (Correction requested if I understand incorrectly...) I merely want to know how the hell they can stay in business. There's no point buying one of their products only to have no support, not because they don't want to support you but because they're gone. And if their fanbois are so critical that anyone who asks a simple question gets shouted down, without the question being answered, well that tells you, or at least me, a few things about their fanbois... and begs a different question: do I want to be associated with such a bunch of assholes? (Hint: no.) Congrats, fanbois, you just eliminated at least one sale for your boyz.
@WolfFan - "no-one's been able to answer the bloody question"
You asked a question about the future. Do you think that anyone who can predict the future with 100% accuracy would be hanging out here, rather than, say, filling in lottery tickets?
There has been a "based on their track record" answer. I repectfuly suggest that you should take that as the most complete answer you could reasonably expect, and bloody well shut up.
Where is the 'bold declaration'?
Where is my assertion that you made a bold declaration? I said usually. I'm explaining why you're getting the responses you're getting. Perhaps you should try calming down and re-reading my response.
I asked a bloody question, which has not been answered.
I answered to the best of anyone's ability here. None of us has the economics figures, because we're not fairphone employees. If you're not willing to go with a "based on their track record" answer then I would suggest you call them up and ask them if they'd mind sending you some of their internal revenue forecast spreadsheets. I'm sure they'll be just as willing to do that as apple and samsung, maybe even moreso.
I have a counter-question for you: why are you asking this question of a public forum of random nobodies who by their nature cannot give you a definitive answer rather than, say, the fairphone sales people?
but so far have not sold that many devices. As I understand it, Apple or Samsung sell more devices in a month than they have in the six years that they've existed
That's all well and good, but I'm not sure how "Apple sells more devices" translates to "this is not sustainable". Has it occurred to you that fairphone never expected to sell as many devices as samsung and saw the sales of every single fairphone1 and 2 as successes? What evidence are you basing your fears on? How many phones does it actually take to make your business profitable? Presumably you have a bunch of these figures handy.
There's no point buying one of their products only to have no support, not because they don't want to support you but because they're gone
I wouldn't worry about it, I'm sure they'll call you if they ever need advice on the economics of phone manufacture, sales, and support.
And if their fanbois are so critical that anyone who asks a simple question gets shouted down
I never shouted you down. I gave you the best answer anybody who isn't a fairphone employee can, and I explained why the question you're asking tends to get the response it does. You have dismissed my answers and made the assumption that I've attacked you, which I did not do. I think you should try shedding your "I'm going to have a flame war" filter and try re-reading my response.
Congrats, fanbois, you just eliminated at least one sale for your boyz.
Damn. And it'll probably be your sale that makes the difference between them being wildly profitable or going bankrupt, too. It's not like the fairphone 1 and 2 sold out.
I really think you should call them, you can get those financial spreadsheets you want and you can give them marketing advice. No more half-measures of asking random people from the internet - go to the source where you can actually get answers to your burning questions.
"Based on past performance, there are very few people who want the product."
Depends how you look at it. Yes, combined sales of FP1&2 was IIRC less than a million. But its a small company doing small production runs. Another way to look at it is that they have quite literally sold every phone they ever made, with demand outstripping supply.
So, yes they could go bankrupt, and the 5-year component support is gone*. Just like literally every single other phone company, including giants like Apple and Samsung. **
*although the parts themselves still remain after any bankruptcy and probably could still be found on ebay
**ask yourself what your reaction would have been if 10 years ago someone told you that Nokia would become irrelevant within 5 years
"It seems that at least five people think that the Fairphone people can't go bust, but decline to state why Fairphone should be immune to the laws of economics."
Other manufacturers are also not immune from the laws of economics. From that point of view it seems a tad unreasonable to aim this as a specific criticism. The previous point was a fair one; it makes no difference how long a manufacturer remains in business if they're not prepared to support their products with spares.
Many very high density parts are now on a BGA footprint and do indeed require specialist equipment to place / replace.
The footprints where you can see the pins can have coplanarity problems for packages with many hundreds of pins (I have seen devices with thousands of pins) (coplanarity issues are where not all the pins are actually at the same seating plane).
BGA sockets are available, but they are expensive and nowhere near as good as soldering to keep all the contacts mated properly quite apart from taking up a lot of space (more than the part being housed usually).
"the pin pitch on those things in tiny and needs specialist kit and skills to replace."
To a small degree. The "specialist kit" needed is a hot air rework station, and the skills needed aren't really that hard to learn. BGA chips can be a bit of a pain, but it is something that a dedicated hobbyist can do.
Surface mount chips that aren't BGA are often even easier to solder/desolder than through-hole chips.
I'm actually curious - has anyone ever broken anything on their phone about from the screen and the case?
The comments about replacing a broken USB-C port or the like just got me wondering, as I cant say I've ever heard of people breaking such things. Displays cracking - check. Batteries dying - check. Case cracking - check. Individual components breaking or getting damaged - ????
I very much like the idea of the Fairphone, but I do struggle to see exactly how I would use the upgrade/change capabilities...
I've recently had an S2 repaired (charging port went kaputt, and past the usual cleaning and re-bending of the bits). The repair was 15 quid, and I'm a happy re-owner now. That said I took it out of the UK to have it done, cause here, they took one look (S2!) and "unfortunately..."
I rather suspect the usage of glue today is a direct result from the mainstream manufacturers wishing to eliminate warrantee returns due to things like loose USB connections.
My gut feel suggests glued phones whilst less repairable are also less prone to mechanical failures.
Modern batteries have an impressively long lifetime, or if you're a mobile seller a depressingly long one. Apple seem to have found a way around that failure of built in obsolescence though ;)
The problem of getting through a whole day even with a brand new battery remains for many.
It is more about making the unrepairable full stop unless it is sent back to the manufacturer. And out of warranty, that is an extra revenue stream.
And part of the claim with glue is that with the correct equipment to melt them (the glues), the devices are in theory easier to recycle: the glues melt at much lower temperatures than plastics, silicon, solders/metals etc.so whack them in the correct type of oven and they are much easier to then disassemble.
Allegedly - I've never seen the process actually at work.
Replacing the battery on an iPhone is simple - which is a lot of the rest for iFixit's 6s and 7s for iPhone repairability. They aren't glued down, there's a little strip of tape you pull to remove it, and the replacement battery comes with the same strip of tape to hold it in place. Sure, you need a couple "specialty tools" to open it, but you can buy those for next to nothing on eBay, or slightly more than nothing from iFixit.
Even on phones where they are glued down like Samsung, it is just more difficult/messy, but not impossible. If you don't want to do it yourself there are plenty of places you can have it done. Unless you throw away the phone in the trash, it will likely end up getting re-used if you trade it in or give it to a recycler. If they can replace the battery for $40 it is worth it if they can sell the phone for $50 or more.
I've never had to replace the battery in my iPhone, but I've helped a few friends with it. Buying from iFixit seems to have worked well.
But you're right, you don't really know for SURE what you are getting unless you buy from the phone's OEM. Otherwise it is a crapshoot, and that "genuine" Apple/Samsung/etc part may be a cheapo Chinese clone with the right labeling on the outside, and you won't know until later.
I replaced the battery on my old Samsung (old enough that there's no tools needed to do the swap) and I think I got an expensive cheapo clone, since the battery life on the new one quickly degraded to nearly the same as the old one.
That's what I thought when attempting to replace the RTC battery on an old camera which was soldered to the motherboard. Nobody seems to sell small enough horizontal pcb-mount rechargeable button-cell batteries to the general public any more.
What I said when subsequently finding a spot on the motherboard well away from the terminals of what I though was a safely discharged flash capacitor is another story. And unprintable.
I usually hold on to my phones (and laptops, cars, etc.)until they just can't be ridden any further, but I actually replaced my last-but-one phone because the USB cable wouldn't stay plugged in - it still worked, but only if I held it in my hands while it charged. And my current phone - which I keep in a magnetic mount on my dashboard - has a loose headphone jack, which crackles every time I go over a bump.
So yes - modular replacement sounds like a Good Thing.
The right hand "convenience button" on my Blackberry broke this year. Rather disappointing, it's only been in daily use for 9 years!
(Flying off the car roof onto the tarmac at 50 MPH might have had something to do with it, fortunately the left hand button wasn't doing anything useful so the camera is still quickly activated when required)
Ports and buttons are notorious for "mechanical" damage, which is why some kind of quick release for charging (magnetic or like Nokia's chargers) is desirable, even better is wireless.
And you wouldn't believer the shit that gets under the buttons: fluff, dust and water are just the start of it. Hence, again why modern phones have fewer buttons.
my experience has nearly always been with the charging socket, eventually the solder works loose and the socket wobbles about inside the case. If this component were to be easily replaceable then from my point of view we have a winner as a work-issue device. At the mo my employer is firmly wedded to the high-end iOS and Android types, will all the commensurate maintenance/warranty costs.
Yes. I've had a USB get totally broken up when someone was a bit clumsy putting the charging lead into a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.
I took it to a mate who runs a phone repair shop and he had to get an electrician, who only works one day a week for him, to replace it. I think he had to order the part in as well.
So yes, being able to buy a replacement port and slot it in would be a good thing.
Sony have had external charging pins on their phones in the past. The plug-in USB C magnetic couplings look like a good idea, especially if your phone isn't waterproof (they would reduce areas of ingress) and doesn't have wireless charging ( which provides redundancy for the charging docket, and be be used to minimise the mechanical wear on the socket in the first place.
Given the overlap between eco conscious folk and people who love being in the great outdoors on bikes, boats and on ropes, the lack of waterproofing is disappointing.
My phone has taken a few dunkings in the last couple of years, so it could be calculated to have used fewer resources than the sum of several replacement Fairphones. Whilst there is a sporting that a Fairphone might have made a recovery (as many phones not advertised as waterproof do, if the owner is lucky), my experience would suggest that outdoors enthusiasts (or even just people living in areas at risk of flooding or hurricanes, sadly a growing number of people it seems) might be better looking elsewhere.
Sony and Samsung have both shown that waterproof phones with swappable batteries are possible.
Fully waterproofed is no mark up at all if it saves you the price of several non waterproof phones.
As I originally hinted, a hill walker is never planning to slip and fall in a stream.
People who care about the environment are often the same as those who are *in* the environment. And here, that includes rain, puddles and streams.
"Tool-less battery removal".
Let it go. It's never coming back.
Maybe it never went away.
I finally replaced my pre-smartphone Nokia with a new Android Nokia a few weeks ago. It has a removable battery almost like the old one. The only disappointment was that it wasn't the same size as the previous model so I couldn't use the old battery as a spare.
While I may waste time reading about tech deep dive topics, I'm a basic user.
My life experience has taught me hardware devalues fast & non-repairable/replaceable faster.
Like one of the commenters posted - I try to maximize the life out of hardware.
I DO care about e-waste.
I DO care about extreme environmental issues living in fire/flood/earthquake Northern California. Being able to swap out parts is essential.
I live rural, so DIY is part of my DNA.
When it costs more to have a mobile than a pc, that stirs my ire. Not having the control over the damn thing stokes it further.
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