September 28, 2023

It’s one factor to look at a video of the Fairphone 5 being taken aside, it was one other to carry it in my hand for the primary time and understand how totally different it feels in comparison with immediately’s Android telephones. It instantly jogged my memory of Nokia below its two identities: the nice ol’ Nokia of customizable again covers and detachable batteries, and the brand new HMD Nokia of pure Android and barely utilitarian {hardware} designs.

Earlier than even turning on the Fairphone 5, I popped open the clear rear cowl and took out the battery. It felt like I used to be thrown again in time to my first cellphone expertise in 2003. Telephones have been designed round comfort and repairability then; you would take off the again and/or entrance frames and alter your whole cellphone’s colour for $20. Batteries lasted round a 12 months, so that you’d get a brand new one when the unique battery began exhibiting growing old indicators. And mom-and-pop outlets have been all the time prepared with a few screwdrivers should you wanted to repair one thing.

fairphone 5 sd card

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

With the battery out, I noticed one other relic of occasions previous — a microSD card slot. Barring a number of smartphones with expandable storage, immediately’s flagships with their $100 further per storage tier made me neglect what this was like. What do you imply I can pop in a $12 microSD card and all of a sudden, I’ve 128GB of additional storage?! What a implausible money-saving tip!

Do you miss detachable batteries and expandable storage in smartphones?

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This acquired me pondering of the subpar expertise that Apple, Samsung, Google, and a number of other different smartphone makers are imposing. When my 128GB Pixel 7 Professional began warning me of full storage a month in the past, I may have simply slotted in one of many empty microSD playing cards from my drawer, as an alternative of fussing with totally different storage-freeing methods for days till I had a number of GBs to spare. How foolish is it {that a} cellphone constructed across the digicam can solely take a number of dozen 4K HDR movies earlier than it screams for mercy?

If my cellphone ran out of storage, I may pop in a microSD card. If the battery died, I may slot in one other one. Easy as that.

And when my Pixel 7 Professional runs out of juice within the afternoon of a brilliant busy day, I may purchase an additional and preserve it charged. Take off the empty battery, pop in the second, and off I’m going. No dangling cables, no charger to hold, and no overheating cellphone. To not point out that I may merely change the battery after a few years to maintain my Pixel contemporary for these 4 years of safety updates.

fairphone 5 removable battery

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

These options would’ve labored within the early 2010s, however by some means progress took us backward. On reflection, I can see corporations making an argument in opposition to the three.5mm port, for instance. It was powerful to waterproof and it took plenty of precious area inside a cellphone, however you’ll be able to nonetheless use a USB-C DAC for wired headphones or go wi-fi with some Bluetooth buds. These are viable alternate options and options.

Glueing within the rear battery cowl is a lazy shortcut. Eradicating expandable storage is a grasping transfer.

However there are not any tangible causes to take away the microSD slot (in addition to firm greed and backside strains) nor are there any sensible alternate options to a non-removable battery. The one options are to pay extra for the next storage tier and ship your cellphone in for restore to switch the battery. (Some right-to-repair initiatives are making the latter extra accessible, however the activity nonetheless usually requires a specialist.)

It’s been 10 years virtually to the day since I relinquished each of those good options. As I switched from a Samsung Galaxy S3 to an LG G2, I discovered myself residing in a world the place I couldn’t purchase alternative batteries or add further storage on a budget. Worse but, I had to determine rapidly switch all of the pictures, movies, offline music, and podcasts I used to be storing on my microSD card onto my new cellphone. Spoiler: It took an eternity and a shitty micro-USB microSD card reader/adapter.

From then on, I couldn’t depend on SD playing cards for simple storage and transfers anymore. I needed to adapt and bear in mind to often use a cable to switch my knowledge again to my pc. I couldn’t carry plenty of knowledge both; the 32GB on my G2 needed to be sufficient for all of my media. I wasn’t joyful about it, however the tech world was shifting in that route and if I needed the opposite cool specs and options, I needed to take care of these drawbacks.

‘It’s what it’s.’ ‘That is the worth of a contemporary smartphone expertise.’ I had develop into complacent, however the Fairphone 5 made me rethink that.

Since then, I’ve jumped between the LG G collection, Galaxy S collection, and Pixel telephones with two constants: no detachable batteries and no microSD slots. I acquired desensitized to this too. “It’s what it’s.” And to be frank, as a tech author with a bit extra entry to trendy flagships than your common Joe, I didn’t must cope with the implications all that a lot. I change telephones yearly, earlier than the battery degrades or the storage fills up (usually), and hand over my older machine to kinfolk who demand much less of it.

fairphone 5 removable battery sd card

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

However with the Fairphone 5 in my hand now, I’m rethinking that complacent place. Why does it take a distinct segment firm and the European Fee to repair an issue that shouldn’t have been an issue within the first place?

Detachable batteries are superior and I can’t wait till cellphone producers determine implement them by 2027 (the European Fee is forcing them to), hopefully with out sacrificing a robust IP score. And microSD storage is extremely helpful at a time when smartphones can shoot 4K HDR (if not 8K) video. Paying $100-200 further for a similar cellphone with a bit extra reminiscence when expandable storage is so low-cost is pitiful.

I don’t suppose I’ll listing a detachable battery or microSD slot as absolute necessities for my subsequent buy, however they’ll significantly issue into my choice any more. Their absence feels extra like an actual con now and the listing of professionals should outweigh it.