Birches NEWS No. 79. Union screw and nut

Not a drop of glue, not a centimeter of tape! The revival of the idea of ​​a modular telephone by those from whom no one expected.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

For those who do not follow the world of the mobile industry, let us briefly recall what Project Ara is. In 2012, Google began researching a 'modular smartphone' that would result in a smartphone in which all important parts (screen, chipset, battery, etc.) could be replaced in seconds.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

After suffering for several years with contact pads that did not want to reliably press on only by the force of neodymium magnets, Google was forced to suspend the project until better times.

Behind all the beautiful pictures that accompanied the Ara project, people somehow completely forgot that the most important thing in this idea is not magnets and seconds, but the principle of modularity. Remembering the old comments on Mobile-Review, we can probably say that each of the veterans of the resource at least once in the last ten years wrote the phrase “it would be great if you could upgrade your smartphone like a laptop”. Or – 'it makes no sense to carry a smartphone for repair, because the cost of replacing the screen (motherboard, microphone, speaker, etc.) is too high. And you can't change it yourself, because it's glued there. ' All of these expressions reflect the modern marketplace, which is giving rise to archaic professions such as 'phone repairman'. And from the point of view of a telephone repairman, the reality looks like this: 'there is enough work for my age'.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

The name of the lot is touching

This happens because the average person is clubfoot and is not able to draw a straight path of glue before he can not evenly press the display against the body of the smartphone. But if the Fairphone 3 smartphone, which will be discussed below, is successfully released and other manufacturers take an example from it, then the situation will radically change.

Fairphone is based in the Netherlands and calls itself a 'movement'. Usually, when a commercial company begins to play the role of a public association, it is time to check their pockets (just in case), especially since the process of 'ringing to the bells' is well known to fans of M.M. Zoshchenko. And in this case, there are some prerequisites for suspicion – the electronics company calls its regional representatives 'angels'. Perhaps they are 'angels' because they do the work for free, for the love of 'movement'?

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

For the Russian mentality, such advertising approaches are too much reminiscent of sectarianism, but Fairphone has a surprisingly sensible idea to create an 'ecological' or even 'green' smartphone. This idea is based on the fair assertion that smartphones unsuitable for simple repair end up in a landfill faster than others and begin to poison the soil. If replacing a faulty microphone is as easy as shelling pears, if it is not soldered directly on the motherboard of the smartphone, then there is no need to load the plant with the release of spare motherboards, throw out the periodic table into the atmosphere, load the CHP and burn extra tons of hydrocarbons. And to make spare parts easy to install in a smartphone, it is enough to make a modular design. Fairphone 3 chose the most reliable solution for fixing the modules – screw connection, only welding is stronger. And in the end we got a smartphone that can be disassembled with a screwdriver, and all the bolts are of the same caliber.

This material is timed to coincide with the news that Fairphone has announced the launch of a pre-order for its third product. We are not familiar with the previous two, so it is worth taking a look at them.

Fairphone 1

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

Due to the pre-order system used by the company, the smartphone was sold in three batches, released at the end of 2013, May 2014 and February 2015. During the release, the design of the smartphone did not change significantly, and the buyer received:

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

Announcement: May 14, 2013 (hereinafter, not all characteristics are indicated)

Display: TFT (not IPS), 4,3 '', 960 × 540, 256 ppi

Cameras: 8 MP main, 1.3 MP front

Operating system: Android 4.2.2 with Fairphone OS proprietary shell, Root 'out of the box'

Processor: MediaTek MT6589m in the first batch, MT6589 in the second and third

Memory: 1 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM

Communication modules: GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n, Bluetooth v2.1

Battery: Li-ion, 2000 mAh

The smartphone was serviced for 3.5 years, security patches and other updates arrived in a timely manner. All this time Fairphone has been battling MediaTek to persuade the latter to make the chipset drivers for the official (important) Fairphone 1 update to Android 4.4. Fun fact – none of the manufacturers succeeded in doing this, and if MT6589 and Android newer than 4.2.2 met together in the new smartphone, then it was always 'self-made', without official support MediaTek.

The first Fairphone was sold in an impressive quantity for such a product, no less than 60,000 units at a price of 310 euros.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

In the first model, the company promised to achieve 'fairness' in all components, which in the case of the Netherlands means decent wages for workers and an overall 'green' production. In fact, Fairphone was an ordinary Chinese smartphone of that time with problems with updating the OS and, according to reviews, problems with the supply of spare parts. Despite the criticism, Fairphone made a profit and decided to release a second model.

Fairphone 2

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

Burned by criticism of the previous model, the company decided to use the platform from Qualcomm in the new product:

Announcement: June 16, 2015

Display: IPS, 5.0 ”, 1920 × 1080, 446 ppi

Main camera: 8 MP (2015, first batch), 12 MP (2017, second batch)

Front camera: 2 MP (2015), 5 MP (2017)

Operating system: GAPPS versions Android 5.1 at the start in 2015 and Android 7.1.2 with the last update in November 2018. At the request of the buyer, an AOSP version of the corresponding editions was offered, with preinstalled TWRP and Root access.

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

Memory: 2 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM

Communication modules: GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth v4.0 +

Battery: Li-ion, 2420 mAh

It was a real engineering success because the company was able to separate the smartphone components into separate modules and implement a simple assembly / disassembly process. The carcass of the smartphone was now divided into:

  1. Outer case
  2. Battery
  3. Base device (with chipset, memory, modem, antennas, SIM and microSD card slot and sensors)
  4. Screen
  5. Receiver module (with receiver, front camera, headphone jack)
  6. Camera module (with rear camera and flash)
  7. Speaker module (with speaker, vibration motor, main microphone and USB port)

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

Blue clips are great

The modules were fastened to spring-loaded contacts and fixed with screws, and the motherboard was attached to the case with pretty blue latches.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

The transition to the Qualcomm platform led to an increase in the price of the device, and the price eventually amounted to 525 euros. As in the last time, the number of those wishing to save the planet by purchasing an electronic device exceeded the wildest expectations. In total, 100,000 smartphones were sold by November 2018. The Blue Angel badge received by Fairphone 2 in October 2016 played an important role in product distribution in Western Europe.

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

Behind the beautiful picture is a powerful environmental organization with roots in the German government and UNEP (the United Nations Environment Program). The errors taken into account helped to avoid a shortage of spare parts, and Fairphone 2 remained in the memory of people as an almost perfect collapsible smartphone. Building on this success, Fairphone announced …

Fairphone 3

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

The new smartphone is being announced as fully modular and economically 'honest', and in an effort to make it more affordable, the Amsterdam-based company has set a pre-order price of 450 euros. For this money, eco-angels offer:

Announcement: August 2019

Display: IPS, 5.65 “, 2160 × 1080, 427 ppi

Main camera: 12 MP

Front camera: 8 MP

Operating system: Android 9.0 (GAPPS version)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632

Memory: 4 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM

Communication modules: GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth v4.0 +, NFC

Battery: Li-ion, 3000 mAh

The smartphone comes with a screwdriver that can be disassembled into modules this device. There is a very simple way to find out the real number of modules, and it consists in viewing the available spare parts. Alas, the main basic part is not available separately, which includes the motherboard and space for smaller modules, but everything else is available:

Birches NEWS No. 79.  Union screw and nut

The only question is the price of the back cover, which is a simple molded polymer part, and paying 25 euros for it is unlikely that anyone will raise a hand, even if the standard one accidentally breaks. But the main thing is not this, but the fact that absolutely anyone can make repairs on their own. The end consumer will avoid the cheating of 'phone repairmen', mental suffering on the topic 'did they give me the original part', unpleasant skirmish, in the end, in case of a controversial situation. This, and not fictional 'greenness' at all, attracts the most.

Do not forget about the aesthetic pleasure received during the 'repair' of such a phone:


Google's Ara project has disappeared from the tabloid pages, the Fairphone 'movement' is barely mentioned in the news, and there is not a single Russian-speaking 'angel' on the interactive map. Despite this, the idea of ​​a complete screw disassembly of a smartphone cannot but please the majority, one has only to imagine completely collapsible Samsung Galaxy Fold, iPhone, Xiaomi, Jinga and Irbis.

Friends, what would you like to improve in a smartphone based on common sense? Perhaps it makes sense to add a B IOS chip to the smartphone's motherboard (for easy OS installation and experimentation)? Or go back to making cardboard cases, provided that the screw connection turns them into ordinary cheap consumables?

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