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fxtec-smartphone: Pros and Cons


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Hello,

I would like to buy a fxtec-smartphone. For this reason, I would be interested in your opinion about the fxtec-smartphone. What are the Pros and Cons?
And is an fxtec comparable to a Blackberry passport?

Best regards
Matthias

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It is important to understand that there are two F(x)tec phones: the Pro1 from late 2019 and the Pro1-X that is currently shipping (slowly). I own both of them.

My original Pro1 has its flaws: its camera is not really good, the LTE and WiFi connectivity are ok-ish but not stellar, and even the keyboard -- the one distinctive feature of the phone -- has never been much fun to use. That being said, the Pro1 has served me reliably for almost three years as my only phone. I use it with a custom LineageOS ROM which I have configured to double as a miniature GNU/Linux palmtop. The latter functionality was very important to me, as I bought the Pro1 to replace my beloved, but ageing, Nokia N900. Overall, I am happy I got the Pro1 and never looked back.

My Pro1-X ... well ... I cannot recommend. While I haven't battle-tested the device as my daily driver, I mostly agree with the experience @doubleddav has shared in that other thread. The Pro1-X does improve on my Pro1 in some aspects: its camera seems to perform better in difficult light conditions, its screen is of  higher quality (no green tint at low brightness), and -- perhaps most importantly -- the keyboard is much more reliable/responsive compared to my Pro1. However (BIG "however"), my Pro1-X is practically useless as a phone due to its GSM/LTE connectivity issues (as also reported by @doubleddav in their report): using the device on the go (i.e. without WiFi connection) is practically impossible for me. Users around the globe share the same experience. The reasons for this are currently being explored but, sadly, up to now F(x)tec have done little beyond acknowledging that there indeed is a problem.

While I do hope that I will find some use for my Pro1-X at some point, for now, I have have given up on the idea that it will ever replace my Pro1 as my regular phone.

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1 hour ago, claude0001 said:

While I do hope that I will find some use for my Pro1-X at some point, for now, I have have given up on the idea that it will ever replace my Pro1 as my regular phone.

I completely gave up on this phone and returned to my poco f2 pro with lineageos (only with fdroid and minimalistic setup). The hardware has bugs in my opinion, i do not believe that software update can solve the issues. The pro1x will remind me to not crowdfund again and i will buy my next device in a shop, paying cash and take it with me right away. No more waiting for anything.

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I can only add that for me, in Germany, with either Vodadone or T-Mobile as the carrier (the third of three German carriers, Telefónica/O2, may be a different story, I have no such SIM card to try), the device is usable for both telephony and mobile internet access with some but no too severe connectivity issues, at least since I've been running the LTE Discovery app in "No-LTE cycle" mode.

(Until I installed LTE Discovery I used to carry a mobile Wifi router with VoWifi enabled on the phone, which I still sometimes do and which of course makes for an even better and actually quite perfect connection. For telephony via Wifi router, of course, VoWifi must be offered by the provider, too, and in Germany at least Vodafone and T-Online do, don't know about Telefónica/O2.)

I'm using the Pro1X for half a year now as a daily driver (just moving from that half-year-old QWERTZ to a QWERTY Pro1X, only because I've got one and I've been moving everything else in my surroundings to a QWERTY keyboard, too) and I'm happy enough with it to not want my Pro1 back. I like the improved camera and even the stock Android 11 experience is good, in great contrast to what the original Pro1 came with.

I do hope F(x)tec will get the bugs fixed somehow (and will continue to exist, for that matter), but even if they wouldn't, I'm determined to continue to use one of these phones for as long as mine still works or I can get it repaired or a replacement. 

Edited by Rob. S.
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4 hours ago, Rob. S. said:

[...] (the third of three German carriers, Telefónica/O2, may be a different story, I have no such SIM card to try), the device is usable for both telephony and mobile internet access with some but no too severe connectivity issues, at least since I've been running the LTE Discovery app in "No-LTE cycle" mode. [...]

I'm on German O2 (cannot recommend), and mobile communication is horrible. Unfortunately I couldn't get the LTE-Discovery app to work on LineageOS. What is that "No LTE cycle"-mode actually doing?

Meanwhile I have found Rx Monitor, which at least allows me to see what radio frequencies the modem is using, though that app (to my knowledge) cannot influence the modem behaviour.

Contrary to what others observe, my Pro1-X works when it manages to connect on band 3 or band 1. It seems to fail when forced to use band 20, the "long-range" LTE frequency (800 MHz). Unfortunately, both, my Pro1 and my Pro1-X fall back to that quite often, even though I am in the centre of a big city. I guess shitty O2 coverage is to blame. That having been said, the Pro1 works fine on 800 MHz, the Pro1-X doesn't. Plus, after its modem has once stalled on band 20,  the Pro1-X can no longer communicate even on other bands if they become (re-)available. It then needs to be "reinitialised" by switching to airplane-mode and back.

Maybe I could get a useful phone by switching to T-Mobile (known to have superior coverage compared to O2). But for the time being I'm not considering that as an option. I still regard mobile data as the core function of a smartphone that should "just work" without requiring any workarounds on my side. I might reconsider after my Pro1 breaks down on me ...

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1 hour ago, claude0001 said:

Plus, after its modem has once stalled on band 20,  the Pro1-X can no longer communicate even on other bands if they become (re-)available. It then needs to be "reinitialised" by switching to airplane-mode and back.

It may happen that antenna design of Pro1X is worse than Pro1's design (I don't know)  but this problem sounds like most likely the SoC's firmware also has problems which should be independent of F(x)tec... or other manufacturers are actively doing workarounds on poorly written software of the main component of the phone?

...or other manufacturers are receiving firmware updates from Qualcomm to address SoC-related issues but F(x)tec does not?

...or something happens which triggers an issue what does not happen on other phones? ...

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9 hours ago, claude0001 said:

Contrary to what others observe, my Pro1-X works when it manages to connect on band 3 or band 1. It seems to fail when forced to use band 20, the "long-range" LTE frequency (800 MHz).

That is a really interesting observation. And this points towards software/firmware and not hardware!
I mean the most likely common denominator is that it works when not switching bands. So it could really be the band-switching that is flawed!

That would explain why testing on different frequencies might have worked well, but real life switching could still fail. It might be under particular conditions or special pairs of bands - I have no idea, just guessing...
If some carriers use mainly one band (at the least in some areas), we might not see it, but other carriers might rely more heavily on multiple bands, and thus trigger the bug,
 

On 2/27/2023 at 10:16 PM, claude0001 said:

up to now F(x)tec have done little beyond acknowledging that there indeed is a problem.

Not to split sticks, but we do not know on their efforts... For all we know they could be hard at work, but sure they have not provided a solution to the issue.

We do know that they at some point said they were unable to reproduce the bug - and that obviously makes it REALLY hard for them to fix it.

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2 hours ago, EskeRahn said:

I mean the most likely common denominator is that it works when not switching bands. So it could really be the band-switching that is flawed!

I think I've seen it switch between bands 1 and 3 without loosing connection. Also, band 20 does not work for me even if it is the first frequency the modem tries after a "reset". Then again, my amount of testing has been really limited. I wouldn't dare jumping to any conclusions based on that.

All-in-all, I believe these things are almost impossible to diagnose systematically in the wild. That really should have happened under laboratory conditions as part of QA ...

2 hours ago, EskeRahn said:

we do not know on their efforts... For all we know they could be hard at work, but sure they have not provided a solution to the issue

Sadly, I guess they are simply out of money and thus cannot afford the required diagnostic tests and fixes to the already manufactured phones (if the latter are at all possible). But let's see what happens ... 

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4 hours ago, claude0001 said:

All-in-all, I believe these things are almost impossible to diagnose systematically in the wild

Absolutely. but as other have it failing going from 20 to 3/1, and you see the complete opposite, to me indicates that it is the switching that could be the real culprit.

Their communication has unfortunately always been sparse to put it mildly. So slim chances of them telling about work looking for the bug and/or looking for a fix.

Once they told they are aware of the problem, the next we will hear is if (hopefully: when) they can offer something that improves or even fixes the bug.

I have not got a clue on their financial situation, and have no clue on the resources allocated for bug-fixing either.

I certainly hope that they are not in a catch22 having to choose between delivering phones in a condition a large portion can not really use, or fixing issues on a phone only delivered to very few of the ones awaiting it.

IF the economy is the limiting factor, I would hope they delivered the phone as is, and then tried to crowd-source for some bugfixing. I have no idea how many would chip in, and how many would hope others will pay for it.

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I'm sure the Pro1x is not a money maker at this point, but Fxtec does have another venture that may be quite successful (you have to scroll to the very bottom of the page to find the FxTec link).

https://www.linxdot.com/

I discovered it when Expansys sent me an add pairing the Pro1x with this device.

It may be why they are not out of money.  If so, great.

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45 minutes ago, EskeRahn said:

IF the economy is the limiting factor, I would hope they delivered the phone as is, and then tried to crowd-source for some bugfixing. I have no idea how many would chip in, and how many would hope others will pay for it.
 

That is crazy to me: They did not do the quality assurance, as claude0001 said, and you ask yourself how many of the angry and disappointed backers are willing to crowdfund more money for fixing the already paid and delayed device. I am running out of words

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Just now, steff said:

That is crazy to me: They did not do the quality assurance, as claude0001 said, and you ask yourself how many of the angry and disappointed backers are willing to crowdfund more money for fixing the already paid and delayed device. I am running out of words

Oh I'm not saying that that is where I want the whole thing to be&go! BUT trying to be pragmatic, I would rather pay (even) more money than having a device I could not use, I would expect that -though far from all- some others might feel the same.

It is not a matter of right or wrong here. Sure feel free to criticize all that went wrong, but venting our frustrations does not change anything.
It is a matter of looking at the possible alternatives. Neither many with not working devices nor few with better working ones sounds good to me. Nor does shelling out more money of course. But if those are the three alternatives, well......

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3 hours ago, EskeRahn said:

[...] venting our frustrations does not change anything [...]

... but it does provide relief sometimes. ­čÖé

3 hours ago, EskeRahn said:

[...] those are the three alternatives [...]

I'm afraid many will just consider this a lesson learned, walk away, and get themselves another phone.

Last year, my wife bought a vendor-refurbished FP3+ (as the FP4 did not have a Lineage port yet), and its flawlessness makes F(x)tec look really disappointing. That neat device now serves me as an example that also smaller and think-outside-the-box companies can make competitive phones in today's market environment.

As I wrote above, I do not regret getting my Pro1. But I must admit that, at significantly higher price, it can't even remotely compete┬áwith that (equally dated) FP3+ when it comes to build quality and user experience. Think of all the small, but systematic, problems we have discussed here over the years: green screen tint, poor camera performance, audio quality, radio strength, keyboard sensitivity, ... For that FP3+, we still have to find any such UX issues. Now, do not get me started on my prawn-X ...┬á­čść

Edited by claude0001
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12 hours ago, EskeRahn said:
22 hours ago, claude0001 said:

Contrary to what others observe, my Pro1-X works when it manages to connect on band 3 or band 1. It seems to fail when forced to use band 20, the "long-range" LTE frequency (800 MHz).

That is a really interesting observation. And this points towards software/firmware and not hardware!
I mean the most likely common denominator is that it works when not switching bands. So it could really be the band-switching that is flawed!

Unfortunately I can report that while the Pro1X is rarely switching band at all when on Vodafone around here, it still loses connection frequently, every few minutes for long enough durations to prevent normal usage. The only good thing is that the LTE Discovery workaround mostly works for me. (And that mobile Wifi routers exist, for that matter...)

 

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2 hours ago, claude0001 said:

Last year, my wife bought a vendor-refurbished FP3+ (as the FP4 did not have a Lineage port yet), and its flawlessness makes F(x)tec look really disappointing.

Wife with FP3 (plus easily added FP3+ camera upgrade) here, too; excellent device (stock Android with exemplary update/upgrade service, though thinking about moving to an ungoogled alternative ROM). If it wasn't for the keyboard, that would be what I'd use, too.

FP with hardware keyboard would have been be the greatest... I had been hoping for a bit of that originally from Fxtec... but that would inevitably have been clunkier and even more expensive.

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11 hours ago, Rob. S. said:

Unfortunately I can report that while the Pro1X is rarely switching band at all when on Vodafone around here, it still loses connection frequently, every few minutes for long enough durations to prevent normal usage. The only good thing is that the LTE Discovery workaround mostly works for me. (And that mobile Wifi routers exist, for that matter...)

Sad to hear...
But could it be that when it fails, it is actually failing trying to switch to another band? I so not know if it is possible as a user, but could be interesting to see what would happen if we could lock it on a single band only. (Obviously not a solution, but just to help debug the issue, by narrowing it down)

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For the Pro 1

Pros:

  • Keyboard is there which is what I really wanted
  • Good battery life
  • Works well on wi-fi calling
  • Can send and receive MMS on Wifi
  • FABULOUS camera now that I have the right software on it (see unedited images below)
  • Expandable storage


Cons:

  • Phone call functionality sucks. I drop about 50% of my calls, when I am not on wifi text messages often get hung or don't go through
  • Voice clarity blows and I need to use earbuds or put it on speaker
  • Screen rotation gets hung and I have to lock and unlock the screen to fix
  • Stuck on Android 9 forever
  • Slow processor
  • Menu search is horrid
  • Keyboard is really inconvenient because of the width
  • Bluetooth sometimes disconnects or hangs
  • <more as I think of it>





AMWts8BmyVmtYZAml2-6vYhhz9EP9_7Hh5wPYQftnH--xjNBxZQ7T2Q9RdXOa_c8pXa7P54gBKaaFRCarGgcUmn0Q6hNcCql7rN2eIP-m6kWwqbLDlJVp_1eFiT75TAX3Odbr3NZL957Zh5GY3g2c_wrVV2svA=w504-h895-no?authuser=0

AMWts8D_ngaW_RCLjaaGfrsTNoSOG1shgcE9shGv3Y2sAwfg_GrRPOzBUAFkeG7sYtdZxzDOg_By-flKw37Ef-NopTZjBytTYBmWp6kokjlyw628TMwSvondZ392Zkyo3E1jk8die8tu-pL6ynvvkBh-TY5zgw=w779-h895-no?authuser=0

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Edited by sequestris
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@sequestris I hadn't known that the original Pro also has call issues. After a minute of experimenting, I stopped using the Pro1x as a phone, but I knew the problems before buying. I admire you for hanging in there; it sounds as if it's still your daily. Would that be right?

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11 minutes ago, jakfish said:

I hadn't known that the original Pro also has call issues.

It has problems with VoLTE where the loudness setting of the handheld is ignored. For me, the VoLTE connection would also stall often while roaming - not sure is this is related to the Pro1 or to my carrier.

However, I am in the comfortable position that German carriers will support GSM (ie. non-VoLTE) calls for years to come, so I just disabled VoLTE. Haven't had any call issues since.

Regarding @sequestris saying the Pro1 is stuck on Android 9: This is true for the vendor-supplied ROM. There are very mature LineageOS ports from 16.0 (Android 9) all the way up to 20.0 (Android 13) if running a custom ROM is an option for you.

Edited by claude0001
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