Bye bye Apple iPhone X, sorry ShiftPhone & Hello Fairphone

🔗 Permalink  |  23/11/2018

Yesterday I received a small parcel for which I was eagerly waiting: the Fairphone. I’ve been busy for quite some time switching to a socially and ecologically fair smartphone. After a long search, several conversations and the two days on the Bits & Trees, I ordered the Fairphone on Monday and switched from a high-end smartphone to a low-end version.

Since I have already been asked a few questions about this, I would like to pick up on and answer two of them here briefly.

First of all, this is not a review, as I have only owned the Fairphone for two days.

Isn’t that a deterioration?

Yep, maybe. But that’s not the point. I was alluding to the fact that the iPhone X, my last phone, is an absolute high-end smartphone. When I took the Fairphone in my hand for the first time and played around with it, I thought: “Oh… I’ll have to get used to it.”

The materials feel much cheaper, the system is much slower, there is not so much love in detail (UI design), the performance, the camera… you’ve got it.

But the point is, they’re not worse because they’re not Apple or because they don’t know how to do it, they just don’t have the same budget for development as Apple and completely different quantities (scale effect). Now comes the crux: They only get the necessary development budget if someone believes in their mission and buys their products.

But seriously, who needs the fastest processor, the best graphics and all the frills? I don’t. The only thing I’ve been lag on for a long time is the camera. I like to take photos, and good pictures are important to me. Of course, I am spoiled by the iPhone.

But in the end, there was only one question I had to answer: What is the most important thing about a smartphone to you?

  1. that as far as possible no one has social or ecological disadvantages through my purchase of the smartphone.
  2. the camera
  3. the design of the user interface
  4. the display size

In that order.

And if I look at it this way, the decision is clear: If it is currently only possible to have a 13MP camera in the phone without harming other people directly or indirectly, then it is the best possible camera or smartphone presently available to me. It’s that simple…

Why the Fairphone? Why not ShiftPhone?

From my point of view, there are only two brands worth mentioning that you can choose from if you want to use a socially and ecologically compatible smartphone: Fairphone and the ShiftPhone.

I have worked intensively with both brands and have ultimately used the better known and much larger brand Fairphone. But the brand and the size were not decisive for my decision. On the contrary, ShiftPhone has the much better product if we go by the specifications. It has a great camera, a better display and faster processor. It sounds like it’s much more my style, doesn’t it? Right, but there are reasons why I didn’t choose ShiftPhone.

The four most important ones I would like to introduce to you here:

  1. Lack of transparency
    Where do the materials come from? Is the whole thing tested independently? What is done for the employees on site in the mines? And the product itself, I can only pre-order. But what does that mean? When will I get it if I order it now? Unfortunately, these questions are not answered for me…
  2. Missing information on modularity
    The ShiftPhone is also modular. I.e. you should be able to easily replace parts, such as the camera, to extend the lifetime of the device. Unfortunately, I find, except for a photo in the shop, hardly any information about the modules I can exchange and how much effort is involved.
  3. No statement about longevity
    Longevity depends not only on the hardware but also to a large extent on the software. If I don’t get any more updates for my device, it quickly becomes a security risk and susceptible to viruses and malware. Information about firmware updates are unfortunately also a thing of the past.
  4. Bad communication
    I am a digital type, i.e. I am busy professionally and privately a lot with a good website or try to make website more user-friendly. The website of the ShiftPhone gives me, unfortunately, no confidence at all, missing contents, false representations or also confusion from subpages. This, unfortunately, causes a feeling of unprofessionalism in me and if this affects the product or the support, the risk is too high to trust them with my money for a device I use daily.

These are all points that do not give me a good feeling to trust this company with 500 Euro for a smartphone. I don’t want to speak ill of the product or the company. It should instead be understood as constructive criticism.

I want ShiftPhone to make better use of its potential. Competition stimulates business and drives everyone to develop better and above all more sustainable products. Because the market is still tiny at the moment, and this ShiftPhone positioning, unfortunately, does not (yet) create a competitive situation. This not only damages ShiftPhone, but above all the innovative ability of socially and ecologically sustainable technology. But as I said, if the product is only half as good as it seems, you just have to work on your communication and your image…

How do you see it? Do you have a Fairphone? Or even a ShiftPhone?

About the author

A photo of me, Niklas Jordan. I wear a cap with the patagonia brand logo on it, black glasses and a grey shirt, and I'm smiling. In the backgroundThe background shows a blurred heath landscape. The photo is somewhat orange, because it was taken during the sunset.

Hey, I am Niklas Jordan. A full-time TechForGood dude and part-time Earth science student. I am passionate about natural hazards, Earth observation, human rights, climate, data science, low-cost technology & tech ethics. I am hosting a podcast about naturual hazards and technology, publish a monthly newsletter about people, planet & technology and found a international community about open source disaster tech. Oh wait, one more thing to know: I love rough weather!

What are you waiting for? Get in touch with me!