Imagine a framework smartphone

Looking at the Fairphone, I asked myself “Why are the components so cheap whilst the main purpose of one of the triple R is Reduce ? Why do they keep changing the chassis ?”

Maybe they can’t keep the same chassis for x reasons, but why build so cheap ?

Imagine having a framework smartphone that you can repair and upgrade yourself, that runs proper components, it would be mindblowing.

I would like to discuss with people of the forum on this topic about the hows and the different technical (or not) aspect of such a device.

  • Could it run Android without a Framework ROM?
  • Would it be possible to make such a device and switch components?
  • What aspect should it have to last?
  • How expensive that would be?
  • In how much time such a would exists ?

Hi and welcome to the forum

There are already a few modular phones, the most ‘exciting’ of these is also a Fair trade itteration.

I believe they already dived into why the fairphone was not a good replacement for them in the post over here

Without a Framework Read-only-memory? Could you clarify?

Yes- as amoun mentioned Fairphone already does something similar to this.

Making a modular phone last is quite hard.

Hard to say- depends on the materials used.

I would say this is not on Framework’s to-do list, but I of course don’t know. The reason I say this is because there are already alternatives for modular phones.

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By that I mean, without a ROM of their own in order to ease up the process of creating the device but a custom ROM like /e/os or Lineage or ROMs with google services

I just checked the FP4 and yes, it seems pretty easy to replace parts, but not all parts like buttons

And the source I guess. Fairphone say the high price is a part explained by the quality and respect of the provisioning source.

If they become really stable (if they are not already) and want to diverse, as a company would do, I would love it and I cross my fingers haha

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The buttons are electronically soldered to the core module. Having many separtae buttons would likely lead to frequent failures, and whilst they may be replaceable I imagine people want a high degree of hassle free use.

Framework have been at this for maybe eight years and I’m sure if it was viable as in, attractive sales point and reliable they would have done so.

Don’t miss that the more modular

  • the larger the device
  • more friction connections and hence more room for disconnects. Unlike a laptop a phone is ‘pocketed’ and has much rougher use.
  • and of course cost. The more complexity the more cost. Fairphone’s main ‘extra’ cost is obtaining fairer materials ~ they were the people who got fair trade gold on the market. Increased wages in production.

So there are cheaper modular phones, but not with little buttons that can be replaced. A touch screen has been the major solution to phones with keys and tablets to replace keyboards.

Note the power button on the Framework is not a separate user replaceable part, nor are the keys. Sure these parts can be repaired but it wouldn’t be a selling point, though a few geeks would love it.

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@amoun you’re right !

I really hope modular would develop more and not be a gimmick

I don’t think it is a gimmick.

The more parts the more connections, the more malfunctions. A business has to make money so they require a product that will see well, either enmass with low profit or specialised with high profit.

The mobile phone market is a mass consumer market and it isn’t viable to make what you arer asking, obviously, or it would be done.

The problem with Fairphone is the support for people who can’t quite get their head around the fact that modular mobile phones are bigger and more prone to failures than the masses are not prepered to deal with.

It’s not a gimmick but it is a niche market.
Hardly anyone puts their money into fairtrade for example hence the mega companies. Apple can be an exception, making reliable products, but at a cost and closed source.

I own a fairphone 4 and it s doing the job. But keep in mind that s tiny in there…the problems are suite different. FW as a lot of room in comparison.
A big topic is update of android and closed cpu provider that stop updates zfter few years.
Maybe this will be solved in some years with open Risc V cpus…like in next pinephones from pine64

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In 2013 there was the concept for Phonebloks
I didn’t know until now but Motorola had worked with Phonebloks to develop Project Ara which ended up being cancelled
Following, ZTE conceptualized the Eco-Morbius in 2014
Google had apparently took the Project Ara and started development on the Spiral 2 (Where was the Spiral 1?) in 2015 which ended up getting delayed and rebranded as the Developer Edition which ended up being cancelled in 2016.

What do you want from such a phone in terms of modularity, have you looked at options on the market today?