Why repairing mobiles is not easy enough - The Restart Project


#1

This made me think, is there a list of mobiles that are easy to use?

I found https://www.ifixit.com/smartphone-repairability. Fairphone happens to be at the top, which isn’t helpful to me personally (been trying to get one of those for years!).

Any other lists out there? I didn’t really consider this angle for the Librem 5, but considering they are selling a dev kit, it can run nearly any GNU/Linux distro, and comes with hardware kill switches, I imagine it will rank high on any repairability list.


#2

The Fairphone family of phones needs to be added here. Though their nearly impossible to get in America. Their sold in europe and are explicitly designed to be repairable.

They actually distribute flash images for them too that strip out all google services and proprietary components save for the drivers.

I had been trying to figure out how to get one affordably through a UK mail forwarding service for a little while before I switched gears and went SailfishOS.


#3

Back when I was on the Pump (pump.io), I arranged with some folks in Spain and the UK that agreed to receive and forward to me. There were trusted friends of trusted friends, so that would be my go to.

Every time I think of Fairphone I have this intense pang of US privilege-guilt! “Why can’t I get this in America?! Don’t… don’t we get everything?!”

In Utah they form these drinking caravans, where a dozen or more vehicles drive together across the border for booze runs. I feel like we ought to do something similar for one of the European FOSS cons and Fairphones. :slight_smile:

In related availability news, I’ve been trying to track down a Nokia 150, to no avail. I wonder how easy those are to fix.


#4

Thanks for posting https://www.ifixit.com/smartphone-repairability – now I wish it were more comprehensive. Just eyeballing, it looks like Samsung phones tend to be bad, and I don’t discern a trend by release date for repairability getting better or worse.

Fairphone doesn’t seem to be very available anywhere. You can just get put on a waiting list on the Fairphone site. The answer in the forums to availability questions seems to be that some resellers may have it in stock. Maybe they are working on Fairphone 3?

A tax on non-repairable characteristics (including proprietary software) seems the logical thing to me.


#5

I don’t know what it is about the european smartphone scene but they have some things together in a way we don’t. Outside of one or two developer phones Firefox phones never released in America but were dotted around europe. The Geeksphone, the Fairphone, Jolla all european endeavors.

Even the modern incarnation of the Openmoko/Neo Freerunner is german manufactured now.

Also a lot of this stuff never sees the light of day in America.

(Im rambling now) but I think this might be true for a lot of embedded tech in general. You can’t find an eReader with an eInk display in the states that isn’t branded by Amazon or Barnes & Noble but in europe and canada they have a number of independent companies producing hardware that also aren’t giant corporate behemoths.


#6

They manufacture in small batches and ship to pre-orders and retellers periodically. They don’t seem to want to keep a lot in any warehouses for any real length of time. It’s a method of saving money if your product isn’t in ultra high demand, as warehouse space is expensive if your inventory moves slow. This does lead to periodic droughts in availability though.

I sat through a couple of long video interviews on youtube with the Fairphone folks about a year ago. Fairphone 3 is in development and the expectation is to make it more of a budget phone. Which might help people looking into import honestly. Though GSM band compatibility has been kind of lackluster too on the Fiarphones so far. I think I figured out id be limited to 2G on US T-Mobile if I imported it.


#7

Those are great reasons for having a waiting list and not shipping to the US. I wish Fairphone would state as much on their website.