Fairphone 3+ User Experience


I just recently purchased Fairphone 3+ with /e/ OS flashed on it, to use it as my daily driver phone. I absolutely love the modular design and upgrade-ability of Fairphone and I’ve been diving deeper into Open Source software this year. I already have some experience with using LineageOS and Ubuntu Touch (I flashed both on my Nexus 5 and one on LeEco Le Max 2) so I can compare those three systems in this post.

First of all, great that you (/e/ foundation) started providing tools for easy installation of the system. As a tech newbie I tried to flash 3 phones with LineageOS, one worked well, one is soft-bricked, one worked great for some time and now won’t start (probably there’s a hardware issue). So when I switched to UbuntuTouch and used UBPorts for the first time, I realized, that this is the way to go - if you ever want to become alternative to Google and iOS, the operating system has to be easily flashable - just like the UbuntuTouch. It automatically finds the device and you literally need to click once to install everything, along with custom recovery. When it comes to /e/ OS I know it’s not yet there but this is definately something I highly support. I would even consider paying some small amount for such a feature so I would be able to flash all my phones with /e/ OS. Fortunately, I had my fairphone pre-flashed by the kind people in your foundation, so that wasn’t part of my worries since start.

First of all, the experience is really great - it really does everything modern smartphone should do, without google. I was really happy to see microG preconfigured with signature spoofing enabled. This is great. The navigation app is mind-blowing - I consider it the single best part of your system. It’s better than any app I was using on LineageOS, not to mention Ubuntu Touch - it’s the best open source app for navigation I’ve encoutered so far. The access to VPN and custom DNS feature is also very easy from the settings, which is another nice suprise. I see that you borrowed many good things from LineageOS and made it your own (wallpapers, sounds, UI)! As long as it’s working I have no issue with that as I want all those open-source systems to grow and get better.

First thing I’ve noticed which was a bit underwhelming was the quality of photos. Selfie-camera is great (despite it having 16 MP), but the back camera, despite having 48 MP sensor and 12 MP output leaves a lot to be wished for. I’m not sure if that’s the issue of the camera software, but I expected almost iPhone quality of photos, the photos I made from it were looking more like from the last decade. Quite pixelated without zoom, very pixelated with no ability to focus when zoomed. Is that an issue of Fairphone 3+ or more general issue that needs to be fixed in future? I tried using different open source apps on /e/ OS but nothing was really producing results I craved. To compare, I made photos using open source apps on LineageOS with LeEco Le Max 2 and the quality of them was outstanding. I won’t compare to Ubuntu Touch, because it’s so buggy and needs so much work that it would be even unfair to compare to quality of their software… but I would say that the quality of the back camera photos is closer to Nexus 5 Ubuntu Touch photos.

The battery life and fast-charging work flawlessly - the life of battery is really good, with phone working for 15 hours of semi-intensive use without charging. That’s quite impressive!

Another thing I want to mention is the feel of a phone. It’s definitely a “manly” device - it has some weight to it, it’s slim but also quite thick (similar to Iphone 10 with solid protective cover). It feels sturdy and like it could take a punch or two. I like it, since I was never very delicate with my items and I take my phone with me for some outdoor activities as well - I think this phone is for guys like me.

Regarding the system itself - there are two more things I want to mention. First of all, the launcher used blocks certain widgets as a part of “main screen” of a phone - I cannot delete them or modify their position (if someone knows how to do this, let me know), I can only add widgets. The pre-installed weather widget doesn’t seem to work ( I created private API in custom weather and it doesn’t show weather even though I did it 3 days ago). The weather app on the other hand, works perfectly. Are there any custom launchers properly working with this system? Second thing I want to mention is the App Store - I think this is a great idea, and there should be option for users with /e/ account to give score to apps - so we can perhaps check the category of apps that are most “liked” or highest scored by users? We see the privacy score, but sometimes it shows app in search menu and doesn’t show up when I click on the app to see the details of it. Same thing with installing apps - some apps don’t install at all, other won’t open on my phone - there are 5 versions of spotify I think, and only one of them worked correctly. Is there a way for the App Store developers to delete apps that won’t be working with the version of /e/ OS that I’m using? It can be quite confusing and seems buggy if you try to install apps and many of them don’t work. Aurora store doesn’t work, F-Droid is very buggy, so I guess alternative app stores aren’t very well supported. For somebody who wants to be conviced this is a great alternative it would be great if there would be a “supported” apps visible and perhaps an option to see all versions (also those who aren’t officially supported) while searching in App Store. It would be great also if we could delete all the apps that are pre-installed and replace them with ones that work better for us, just like in LineageOS.

Observing the tracking software included in some of the popular apps can give me a headache, it’s great to see it though! But, since I don’t log in on any facebook or google account on this phone, and there is signature spoofing are the google trackers still effective? Maybe somebody can clarify it for me.

I would say this system has a lot of potential and I’m crossing fingers for this project to grow. I hope this system will continue it’s development and become the main operating system (as LineageOS doesn’t like to be associated with singature spoofing and doesn’t seem to develop easy installer) for everybody who is privacy and freedom minded.

Best wishes,

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone


Unfortunately, if you are talking about the pre-installed “Maps” application Magic Earth, it is not open source.

Is it private though? They claim to minimize data collection to absolute minimum.

Btw, I installed Open Launcher and system flies now. Bliss launcher seems to slow it down.

I am generally very skeptical of for profit companies with claims about privacy about their proprietary software. And I think the freedom to use, modify, inspect and redistribute software for any purpose is also important in addition to privacy.

EDIT: I have found a short interview about magic earth here: https://mobilsicher.de/ratgeber/job-van-dijk-we-are-surprised-how-companies-steal-consumers-data. They do seem genuinely concerned about privacy and their business model of selling their maps API to companies sounds legitimate (you can find information about it on their other site: https://www.generalmagic.com/maps-sdk-for-qt/).

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Thanks for sharing. The fact their app got included as part of /e/ ecosystem made me suppose that they aren’t trying to screw us over. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t double-check :wink:

I find /e/ also super good on my FP3. It is on a good way.

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