Hardware

Mobile Phone

Long-term Field Test Report: 21.08.2021 to date


Fairphone 3 Plus

(currently preparation phase until unit arrives)

Fairly produced Phone with Privacy: /e/OS Fairphone 3+

I was already interested in Linux smartphones in March 2016. At that time, however, there were only tinker solutions with quirks. When the first beta version of /e/OS based on Android 7.1 appeared in September 2018, I had already been a satisfied iPhone user for two years.

Apple is going to introduce a surveillance technology with iOS 15.x that I don't agree with. So now I'm giving foundation founder Gaël Duval and his mobile operating system /e/OS a chance. His e Foundation sells the Fairphone 3+ configured with the privacy-friendly LineageOS fork without Google services. You can also install /e/OS yourself on a suitable smartphone, but this is difficult without a Windows computer. So I was happy to order a ready-configured Fairphone 3+.

Ordering Process

21.08.2021: Order a Fairphone 3+ at the e-Foundation shop.
In addition: Fairphone USB-C 2.0 charging cable 1.2 m for 19.79 EUR.
Reinforced with braided, 100% recycled nylon – more robust and durable than conventional charging cables.
Total with postage (UPS standard delivery): 501.22 EUR.
Delivery time: 4 weeks. Deceleration already starts in the shop …

21.08.2021: Order an additional Multicard via the “My o2” app.
23.08.2021: Order a black nappa leather sleeve from the fitBAG shop.
23.08.2021: Credit card is charged with the invoice amount for Fairphone 3+.

26.08.2021: Telefónica's Multicard for the Fairphone 3+ has arrived.
30.08.2021: fitBAG's letter with black nappa leather bag has arrived.

Next step – after receiving the Fairphone 3+:
17.09.2021: Buy a new Threema licence in Threema's shop.

Box Contents

  • Fairphone 3 Plus
  • Mini-screwdriver
  • Quick guide

Tech Specs

Model Fairphone 3 Plus
Display size 5.65 inch Full HD
Screen resolution 2160 x 1080 Pixel – Verhältnis 18:9
Dimensions (H × B × T) 158,1 × 71.8 × 9,89 mm
Weight 189 g
Operating System /e/OS
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
RAM 4 GB
Internal memory 64 GB
Memory expandable yes, up to 400 GB with microSD card
Mobile networks 2G/3G/4G LTE
SIM card slot Dual SIM
SIM card size Nano SIM
WiFi 2,4 + 5 GHz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC yes
Fingerprint scanner yes, on the back
VoLTE yes, if supported by your mobile phone provider
VoWiFi yes, if supported by your mobile phone provider
Front camera (Resolution + Aperture) 16 MP, F/2.0
Main camera (resolution + aperture) 48 MP intern/12 MP extern, F/1.79
Headphone jack 3.5 mm, stereo
Charging socket USB-C
Battery 3040 mAh lithium-ion, easily exchangeable
SAR value 0.411 W/kg

Power Supply

Fairphone 3 and 3+ use a Qualcomm SoC.
Therefore, the charger must be compatible with Qualcomm's SoC protocols to achieve optimal charging performance.
FP3/FP3+ can be charged with any charger from Qualcomm's official list.

Charger and cable for the FP3/FP3+ must meet the following specifications:
5 volts (5V)
Minimum output power: 1 ampere/h (1 A, 1,000 mA).
Note that this will result in slow charging.

Maximum output power: 3 amps/h (3 A, 3,000 mA)
Qualcomm Quick Charge Processor compatible, version QC 3.0.
The cable must have a USB-C connector and be manufactured by a USB certified brand (a product without a brand is not certified).

Experience

For initial operation, I will equip the nano-SIM card slots with a new multicard from Telefónica and the Deutsche Telekom SIM card previously used in the iPhone 11 Pro. The SanDisk Ultra microSDXC 200 GB previously used in the BlackBerry P'9982 will move into the memory card slot of the Fairphone 3+.

Battery Performance

I am very curious about the operating time and charging times …

Battery Protocol

… I will keep an accurate record of these for a while.

App Store

The e-Foundation's /e/ Application Checker is pre-installed.
In addition, I install F-Droid.

Backup

Data can be backed up to a memory card or to the Nextcloud of /e/.
You can also operate your own Nextcloud, e.g. with a NAS or at your trusted web hoster, and synchronise your smartphone data with it.
At Nitrokey Berlin, I just discovered another interesting option: a fully configured Raspberry Pi 4 with 1.5 GHz Quad Core 64-bit CPU and 2, 4, or 8 GB RAM in a robust passively cooled metal housing.

Messaging Machine

End-to-End encrypted Communication

I will replace the SMS app pre-installed on the Fairphone 3+ by /e/ with the app Silence. People who use neither Threema nor Tutanota can still communicate with me secure end-to-end encrypted if they also use Silence on their Android smartphone (available at Google Play Store and F-Droid)!

Silence uses Signal's encryption protocol but does not transport messages in the same way. Silence relies on SMS/MMS messages, while Signal relies on internet messages.
I consider the Signal messenger to be compromised because it uses Intel's RAM encryption technology SGX, which has already attracted attention several times due to security leaks. But this does not affect Silence.

For e-mails I use the Tutanota app.

Threema has proven itself to me as a messenger on the iPhone since 23.12.2020 and that's why I'm happy to buy another licence directly from the Threema shop for the Fairphone.

Telephony

I'm curious about the acoustics of the Fairphone 3 Plus.

Firmware

Which Android version I will get on the Fairphone 3 Plus as the basis of /e/OS is not quite clear to me yet: version 9 or 10.

Software

As soon as I have the Fairphone 3+, I buy a Threema licence directly in Threema's shop and install Threema on it.
Export all previous chats incl. media in case I want to read up on something later (unfortunately, moving is not possible when changing systems).

On the iPhone 11 Pro, the Threema app is then uninstalled.
Threema's Android version offers more in terms of backup anyway.
That's why I prefer to switch now while I still have a small amount of data, even though I will have to use the iPhone 11 Pro as a second device for a while.

For a few, but important apps, there doesn't seem to be anything comparable on Android yet, or the Android version only works with Google services.
These include the app "Post & DHL" (important because of Packstation), "Mein Haushaltsbuch Pro Edition" aka BudgetPro and the app for my health insurance. The latter saves me filling out and sending reimbursement applications by post and allows me to scan medical bills instead. I don't want to do without it any more. So far, it's only once or twice a year for preventive dental check-ups, but still.

There are also some very interesting apps that I'm looking forward to testing:
AdAway – free open source ad blocker.
Automation – automate things by creating rules
KeePassDX – seems to be on par with Strongbox for iPhone
RethinkDNS – DNS + Firewall fast, private and secure

Preparation for Switching from iOS to /e/OS

In order to be able to do the same things on the Fairphone 3+ as on the iPhone, I need the corresponding apps. This comparison serves as preparation before I receive the ordered Fairphone, so that I have suitable apps for all applications when it goes into initial operation. Only time will tell whether they deliver what their description on F-Droid promises.

Apps on the iPhone Apps on the Fairphone
1Blocker AdAway
App Store F-Droid
  /e/ Application Installer
   
CalenGoo Simple Calendar Pro
Cs Music Simple Music Player
DB Navigator Öffi
Do Not Disturb (DND) Silent Night
Focus Automation
Shortcut Automation
   
iMessage Silence
Threema Threema
Tutanota Tutanota
   
   
   
OTP Auth FreeOTP
Strongbox KeePassDX
   
   
PDF Reader & Annotator by Xodo PDF Reader & Annotator by Xodo
   
   

Hardware – Details and some Photos

As soon as I receive the Fairphone 3 Plus, I'll take lots of photos and post them here after I've edited them.

Nappa Leather Sleeve by fitBAG

Photo: fitBAG nappa leather sleeve in original packaging, front side

For years I have been protecting my mobile phones with a custom-made black nappa leather bag from fitBAG (Made in Germany).

That's why I also ordered a nappa leather sleeve for the Fairphone 3 Plus (fitBAG Beat black, basic price 17.90 EUR).
This time with “Microfibre Premium (IFP)” inner lining for EUR 4.90 extra.
Quote:
“Highly innovative microfibre with an antibacterial efficiency of > 98.04 %. Neutralises unpleasant odours and blocks microbial contamination to the greatest possible extent.”
With letter postage, the sleeve costs 25.30 EUR (with taxes).

Photo: fitBAG nappa leather sleeve in original packaging, back side

Photo: fitBAG nappa leather sleeve in original packaging, back side

Photo: fitBAG nappa leather sleeve, front side

Photo: black fitBAG nappa leather sleeve, front side

Photo: fitBAG nappa leather sleeve, back side

Photo: black fitBAG nappa leather bag, backside

Photo: View into the nappa leather bag with “Microfibre Premium (IFP)” lining

Photo: View inside the leather bag with “Microfibre Premium (IFP)” lining

Pros

  • Dual-SIM supported (2 slots for Nano SIM)
  • Memory expansion via separate memory card slot
  • current Bluetooth version 5
  • NFC support
  • Battery can be easily changed by the customer
  • the entire smartphone can be easily repaired
  • Spare parts available at fair prices
  • alternative operating systems installable
  • Fairphone is more sustainable than the big manufacturers
  • /e/ aims to provide SW updates + security patches for at least 3 years

Cons

  • No model with 5G available yet (currently not tragic)
  • current Android version only for a few smartphones as a basis

Conclusion

Not yet possible, as the Fairphone 3 Plus has not yet been delivered to me.

Alternatives

GrapheneOS and CalyxOS also enable the use of smartphones with more privacy for all, but require good English language skills and a Google smartphone as hardware.

Good English language skills are also needed for the website of the Berlin (!) company Nitrokey ...
Since 2 September 2021, the Berlin company Nitrokey has been offering the discontinued model Google Pixel 4a, already configured with GrapheneOS, under the name NitroPhone 1 (Google has ended production).
Other disadvantages: memory not expandable (only 128 GB), no 5G and the battery cannot be changed by the customer. In two years, it will be rubbish without software updates and security patches.
For this, the surcharge is hefty: 549 EUR instead of 319 EUR. A great pity.

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