We need to talk about smartphone innovation - Fairphone

A short article, but with a number of strong messages, I thought. In particular:

The smartphone in 2020 is pretty much the same as it was in 2019. That’s a good thing. It means, if you have a working smartphone, you’re fine ignoring all the talk about innovation for a while and holding on to it.

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With the back of my phone being cracked and twice attempting to replace the back glass with it breaking when I put the new one due to dents in the frame, I’ve been taking a look at alternative phones. There really isn’t much change happening. Granted prices are coming down a bit, and features/specs are getting better in lower end phones. Generally only minor incremental changes.

Phone tech had now plateaued and a phone should now last several years barring physical damage, or significant change of use. The big issue is software and security updates and making sure that they go out for a reasonable time. The problem is the manufacturers generally don’t have an incentive to do this due to the business model where for Android phones there is generally no revenue to the manufacturer after the initial sale. Apple have other revenue streams from the ecosystem thus can fund the improvements.

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Honestly, once you have a solid screen (perhaps OLED, but excellent LCD at best), solid touch input, solid wireless networking, a decent camera, good materials, fast performance, a Secure Element with Fingerprint Sensor, NFC payments, USB Type-C with Power Delivery, good battery life, and perhaps even Wireless Charging, it would take something truly transformative to win me over.

I realised some time ago that with USB Type-C in particular laptops had gotten “good enough” for me and that I vastly prefer the boring but solid and repairable nature of my personal ThinkPad X270 that I bought used and upgraded with a Smart Card reader, NVMe storage, and better display, than buying a new MacBook Pro.

Fairphone is one wireless charging module, removal of the front text, and more subtle back text away from being the phone I would replace my current iPhone X with when it eventually dies, just because it seems to be a solid and repairable implementation of everything I want. I would miss the OLED display and general niceness of Apple’s hardware but even though I can afford an iPhone 11 Pro, I just can’t justify it anymore.

(As an aside, I would have to figure out my Apple Watch situation but that’s a different lock-in story. :grimacing:)

I don’t really want a phone with three cameras, just one that meets the “nice enough” bar and meets my needs, repairability is a bonus.

Maybe I am just getting old. :sweat_smile:

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Yes to all of that! Although I wouldn’t complain if my X270 had a MacBook’s trackpad. :sweat_smile:

I switched from iPhones to the Fairphone 2 and found that I didn’t care about NFC. Do miss the fingerprint sensor though. Should’ve waited for the FP3.

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The lack of NFC was one of the reasons for moving away from my Fairphone 2. (Poor performance was another - I tend to have too many apps installed).

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