A Week With the Fairphone 2
I have spent about a week with the Fairphone 2 - a phone that aims at using fair trade ideas also for producing smartphones. Besides the ethical reasons for buying the Fairphone 2 there were actually a few technical, too:
- Dual SIM
- A quite up-to-date Android (5.0)
- microSD slot
- Modular design i.e. every part of the phone like display, microphone etc. can be replaced.
I do like the design and it is really easy to open and disassemble. I like the basic design of the phone a lot and wish there were more like it.
Now I have spent a week with the Fairphone 2 and I regret to say it was less than pleasant:
- The Android is not plain vanilla. It has some additional features. For example, the OS shows the privacy impact of each App. However, if you disable this feature some Apps don't work. For me Threema did not restore my backup - no error message, nothing. Luckily the Threema support was aware of the issue. If you enable the feature again, there is no problem.
- Battery life appears to be not-too-great. I can hardly get a full day without recharging which should be the minimum in my opinion.
- The display flickers if the brightness is set to a low value.
- I have trouble doing calls. Yesterday I could do a call - but the person I called could not hear me, even after dialing again several times. Today I had trouble understanding the person I called.
- The phone reboots - at least once a day, sometimes more often. Today it rebooted during a call. I am not the only one. I don't know any work around. An unreliable phone is a real issue in my opinion. But maybe it is a hardware issue and not all phone have this problem.
- There are many minor issues. The phone shows an exclamation mark at the wireless symbol - even though everything works. Only the red LED works - all other don't. The location icon stays on - even though no App requests the location. There is a quite long list of in the forum and official report.Those are minor issues and I don't care too much about them - but some of them are so obvious that I wonder whether the phone and its software was actually tested.
Today I submitted a support ticket concerning the reboots. It seems the answer can take up to eight working days. I am considering to return it.
So I really think the Fairphone 2 has a lot of potential and I really want the product to succeed. But I am afraid given its current state it is hardly usable for me. I wasn't sure whether I should write this blog post - I really love the technology and the idea behind the Fairphone. But the information concerning the issues is public anyway so I figure this blog post might not be such an issue after all.
I hope I can update the blog post soon with better news...
Update 2016-02-17: The support ticket was actually handled quite quickly - actually in less than a day. I tried to tweak the phone to solve the reboot issue at least - but I wasn't successful. So I have applied for returning the phone.
Update 2016-02-21: Return is not yet approved. I am considering a Shiftphone
Update 2016-02-26: https://forum.fairphone.com/t/fairphone-2-random-reboots-15-times-a-day/11553/93
is the first Fairphone's official statement about the reboots. Quite honestly this doesn't look like there will be a fix soon or the problem is fully analyzed. The reboot is not on the list of known issues in the forum or on Fairphone's list of known issues. IIRC it has been on the list in the forums at one point. :-(
- The reboot problem is fixed.
- However, my Fairphone destroyed my SIM card - a known problem that is now fixed.
- My microphone stopped working at one point. I got a replacement for free and now that problem ist solved, too.
- Also there is a problem now that required you to reenter the PIN. However, you can deactive the PIN for the SIM card.
Still the battery life is not that great and the proximity sensor doesn't work too great - i.e. if you look at the screen during a call, the screen is often blank.
So right now the phone is basically usable and most of the big problems are solved. I use it every day. However, the latest problem around the SIM PIN shows that the quality of the software is still not great.
- Microphone dead again
- Cover doesn't look too nice any more
So I bought a Moto G4+ to replace the Fairphone 2. I just need a reliable mobile phone.