Fairphone Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

Fairphone has generated a fair amount of chatter within the repair community by making a fair-trade phone. Join us and find out if their commitment to a "smart, open design" and "lasting value" will make for the repairable phone of every fixer's dreams.

We managed to get our sneaky hands on Fairphone #3. No, seriously — the device we took apart is the third unit that came off Fairphone's prototype line! So some pieces may be a bit "rough around the edges" or have markings that don't show up in actual production units, but that’s the price we pay for having exclusive access to the phone.

Want to hear more about our own dedication to repair and device ownership? Check out iFixit.org, check us out on Facebook , or get the redux on Twitter.

Edit Step 1 Fairphone Teardown  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Fairphone Teardown  ¶ 

  • With its unconventional goals, Fairphone isn't gonna be the flashiest flagship phone on the block, but it's still a solid smartphone that'll hold its own feature-wise:

    • 4.3" Quarter-HD (qHD) (960 x 540 pixels) display

    • MediaTek MT6589M (quad-core) 1.2 GHz processor

    • 16 GB integrated storage expandable by microSD (up to 64 GB) + 1 GB RAM

    • 2000 mAh user-replaceable battery

    • 8 MP rear-facing camera with autofocus (stabilization + image sensor) + 1.3 MP front-facing camera

    • Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR / v3.0 + HS (802.11 AMP) / v4.0 LE

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The battery cover has some serious heft, no doubt for structural aid and durability.

    • Tough as it is, the battery cover is loosely attached to the phone. If you set your phone down with a bit too much force, you're guaranteed to lose the battery cover when you pick it back up.

      • Update: We got one of the actual shipping units post-teardown, and confirmed that the floppy battery cover attaches to the rest of the phone nice 'n' securely.

  • On the inside of the battery cover, we find an engraving commemorating the first supporters of Fairphone's grand vision: "This phone and you and 9635 people made fairphone possible."

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Out first is the advertised user-replaceable 2000 mAh battery.

    • While we don't have reviews on the battery life just yet, Fairphone claims 400 hours of standby time.

  • Comparatively:

    • The iPhone 5s sports a 1560 mAh battery, with up to 250 hours of standby.

    • The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in at 2600 mAh, with up to 300 hours of standby.

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • A little gentle prying with our snappy opening pick pops the clips along the midframe.

  • This style of midframe reminds us of most Samsung phones on the market, and the opening procedure is about on par.

  • Samsung phones have historically had fairly high repair scores, despite their unfortunately sealed, and pricey, display assemblies. We can only hope Fairphone doesn't take too much after the Galaxy phones...

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • With minimal finagling, we free the motherboard and throw it on the table to take a looksie.

  • The 8 MP rear-facing camera comes out with ease, but several other components are unfortunately soldered in place:

    • Front-facing camera

    • Vibrator motor

    • LED flash

    • Headphone jack

  • We're hopeful that future revisions of the Fairphone will be more modular, and more cost-effective to repair.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • While it's no secret what hardware is going into this device, here are the noteworthy ICs we found:

    • Mediatek MT6589 ARM Cortex A7 1 GHz CPU SoC

    • SanDisk 16 GB NAND Flash memory

    • InvenSense MPU-3050 Triple Axis Gyroscope with Embedded Digital Motion Processor

    • Mediatek MT632

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • On the flip side:

    • RFMD RF3236 WEDGE (Linear) Transmit Module

    • AzureWave AW-NH520, probably similar to the AW-NH580 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS and FM Combo Module IC

    • MediaTek MT6167A RF Transceiver.

    • Skyworks SKY77768-1 SkyHi Power Amplifier Module for WCDMA/ HSDPA/ HSUPA/ HSPA+/ LTE – Band VIII (880–915 MHz)

    • Skyworks SKY77761 SkyHi Power Amplifier Module for CDMA / WCDMA / HSDPA / HSUPA / HSPA+ / LTE – Band I (1920–1980 MHz)

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • One last major component remains on the display assembly—a small daughterboard with an embedded antenna and spring contacts for the speaker.

  • A look at the back of the 4.3" qHD display reveals the touch screen controller to be a FocalTech FT5316DME.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Fairphone repairability score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

    • The battery can be replaced without any tools.

    • It's very easy to open and access the internal components.

    • There are only 8 screws in the entire device, all standard Phillips #000 (no proprietary or security).

    • The Fairphone comes with a set of free, open source repair manuals.

    • Several smaller components are soldered to the motherboard, increasing repair difficulty (front-facing camera, vibrator motor, LED flash, and headphone jack).

    • The glass is fused to both the display and the display frame, increasing repair costs.

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Comments Comments are onturn off

If the Fairphone manufacturer/producer wants to score 10/10, it should be a world phone useable on any network and be upgradeable to newer technology by just purchasing and installing replacement boards, similar to what can be done with desktop computers which can be upgraded without replacing the whole thing. It should also be able to run various operating systems including Android, Windows 8, etc. and multi-boot into the desired OS (like HTC HD2).

Brian, · Reply

Setting the bar too high there. Yes that would be the absolute perfection in phone design, but we can't even do that with ultrabooks, never mind tablets or even smartphones. Baby steps. Lets get our devices fully repairable before we start upgrading them. And maybe once upgradable phones come out, ifixit will start a new upgradeability rating?

Evan van den Berg,

What obsoletes many smartphones (at least in the minds of typical users) is the phone OS. What are the plans to have an OS software upgrade process that does not require the average user to have to root the phone and go through the esoteric process that exists today?

RickP, · Reply

"A little gentle prying with our snappy opening pick pops the clips along the midframe." - pointless without better instructions. the clips don't just "pop", it's unclear how to open the thing.

maarten, · Reply

actually, i'm pretty sure you haven't actually *done* this: if you don't remove the five screws that secure the back to the midframe, no amount of prying will get the phone apart (unless you have a ifixit crowbar and decided that you'll want an iphone after all). note: on my phone, one of the screws was initially covered with a black sticker. it's next to where the outer-most SIM appears from under its cover.

(all this on a FP1)

maarten, · Reply

Achtung! Es befinden sich 5 (!) Schrauben am Gehäuse, um die Rückwand zu öffnen! Die 5. Schraube sitzt neben den SIM-Slots und ist mit einem schwarzen Aufkleber abgedeckt!

Simone, · Reply

WTF dude, you forgot to mention the screws! There are 4 visible and one hidden under a sticker. Plus you don't mention not to pry under the power button or the jacks. Here's a REAL guide, with FULL instructions: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Fairphone+D...

consuela4, · Reply

This is just a first peek at the device, "Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions." But thanks for providing users links to our replacement guides. =)

Sam Lionheart,

Google sends us here first when we want to open the phone! Please set a link in capitals to the real guide on top! The tiny subline will be overlooked easily and people are ruining there fairphone on step 4.

Simon, · Reply

Is it true for fairphones from the production batch, that the glass is fused to display and frame? In one blogpost [1] they put great emphasize on how they decided to have "separated the glass touch panel and the protective touch panel". I thought this meant that glass and display were easy to repair.

[1] Search for "Hardware Development Ordering" on http://www.fairphone.com/2013/06/28/prod...

FGN, · Reply

@FGN That is true, and they want to change it:

"If the glass breaks, the touchpanel will still work in most cases; however, when we ship the display assembly, these two parts are glued together. This is not ideal, so we're looking into it for next generation devices."

(source: http://buy-a-phone-start-a-movement.fair...)

Ana, · Reply

"The glass is fused to both the display and the display frame, increasing repair costs."

Had to pay 150€ in total (including shipping from austria -> netherlands)

Jisifus, · Reply

Funny people should mention the idea of making boards more modular to upgrade the phone. I am in the early thinking it out stages of designing a phone and tablet line that is 100% user serviceable and highly rugedized.

Things the phone and tablet will not be. silly stupid overly thin. Glass and digitizer will be 1 part and lcd another. Switches charger etc will be connected more old school plastic connector to pins and they will not be blister buttons but micro switches. The cpu ram etc will be the fastest possible with the largest amount possible. I seen that some dev boards have of all things sata controllers. 1tb ssd any one?

while thicker than average by a good bit it will be worth it. As my end game plan for the phone and tablet is gaming emulation and android specific games etc. Ill post more later on as i move along

Nova Flare, · Reply

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