Shiftphones details

Bernhard E. Reiter bernhard at
Fri May 10 07:35:28 UTC 2019

Am Mittwoch 08 Mai 2019 15:05:53 schrieb Paul Boddie:
> >  *
> You may have to provide a little more context about this for those of us
> who do not readily read German and who are unfamiliar with this initiative.

It got on my radar when I was looking for an environment friendly and fairly 
traded phone as a replacement for an FP1 (Fairphone 1, first generation, 
2013) FP1 that is showing its age for someone.

> (Since various correspondents of mine who are native German speakers never
> mentioned this initiative, I feel that the origins of the initiative are
> not the principal obstacle hindering any wider awareness of it.)

My information come from reading their pages and some reports in German press.
They do have Enligsh pages, but I don't know which information is missing from 
them. If you'll find something in German that you would want to be translated 
or summarized, let us know (I think there are many German speakers on this 
list.) says it started as a crowdfunding 
project in April 2014 and delivered first phones in February 2015.
It seems to be a small family owned and run business near Kassel in Germany,
about 7 employees. Their idea is to be fair and environmental friendly.

A first report about their "fairness" was published 2016-11
They claim:
 * Production in China in small companies (>300 people)
 * Employees in China get a good/ very good salary (double or triple
   of what is custom). Have limited working hours. Have health care, food
   and more. They visited them and work with NGO "TAOS".
 * They use ceramic micro-capacitors without Tantalum (from "conflict 
material" Coltan)
 * They plan to get "fair gold, though just 100g has been used in 30k phones
    produces until 2016-11.
 * Thy use fair tin for soldering from (
 * They cooperate with a a number of partners, e.g.
 * They want recycle and have deposit for all phones, which you get back
   when you send it back (no matter in what state) for recycling.

> For instance, with an emphasis on conflict mineral avoidance, how does it
> differ from Fairphone? 

Firt note that they are much smaller than the Fairphone org, they have a 
section about their view on them in the above report.

I think their approach is almost the same, in some regards they are not as 
good, like in the transparency for the delivery chain, in others they are 
better like the cooperation with well though out initiative for the 
soldering-tin and NagerIT. Their deposit idea in my opinion is a step forward 
toward more recycling.

> And has the initiative learned the lessons that Fairphone needed to learn?

Seems they were starting almost at the same time (2013/2014). As someone who 
supported fairphone 1 and fairphone 2 users, I know a lot about the good and 
bad decisions from Fairphone first hand. I don't about Shiftphone so I don't 
know. In some things they seem to have been better than Fairphone from the 
beginning for use cases I was looking for.

I'm slightly sensitive about how you have phrased the question, though, as I 
believe any organisation has to learn and I consider Fairphone a huge success 
that has advanced the state of the art significantly.

But back to Shiftphones:
Because they are around for a number of years, with a production >30.000 (as 
claimed in 2016-11) they seem to actually produce working phones.

To the question of how friendly they are towards running your own software:
There seem to be a light version that you can get (if you sign up for beta)
without Google apps. And recently there is an experimental LineagesOS port
for their 5me and 6m models with Mediatek SOCs.) So they are not much better 
than Fairphone in this regard. A little bit, because their upcoming models 
will be based on Snapdragon SOCs from Qualcomm which are traditionally more 
friendly towards Free Software drivers.

My botton line is: With Fairphone currently not having a current model on 
sale, Shiftphones has interesting offers and certainly helps to push forward
ethical phones (environment, fairness, freedom).

Best Regards,

FSFE -- Founding Member     Support our work for Free Software: | contribute
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