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Shiftphone in the test: sustainable mobile phone with removable battery

Shiftphone in the test: sustainable mobile phone with removable battery

When it comes to sustainable smartphones, you always stumble across the manufacturer Fairphone. Similar to the Dutch brand, the German manufacturer Shift wants to set standards in terms of sustainability and fairness in smartphones. In our xiaomist test, you can find out whether the Shift6mq is really any good.

The manufacturer Shift is based in the small town of Falkenberg in Hesse. Shift is thus pursuing a similar goal as the Dutch manufacturer Fairphone, which is a well-known name in sustainable smartphones. We took a closer look at the Shift6mq and will show you whether the manufacturer's high-end device is worth it.

Shift6mq: test conclusion

xiaomist rating: 6.7/10

With the Shift6mq you get a smartphone where sustainability is noticeable - be it in terms of packaging, the smartphone itself or the production chain. Despite the rather simple design, it also convinces with small, loving details . The smartphone also has a lot of power, which means it works quickly.

However, the high-end device from Shift is inferior to other high-end smartphones from well-known manufacturers in many respects, be it in terms of the display, the camera or the sound quality . As a result, I caught myself questioning my expectations of a smartphone several times during the test. With the Shift6mq you support a sustainable idea, but you have to make compromises.

However, if that doesn't matter, but rather that the smartphone should only master everyday functions and was produced fairly, the Shiftphone is a good choice. Although the price is very high at over 700 euros, you are investing in something good.


Sustainability in packaging and device Simple but loving design Fast processor Many slots


Mediocre display Low bass sound Poor camera quality Slow battery

Packaging: Unpack with a clear conscience

As soon as the Shiftphone arrives, you can see at first glance that the manufacturers care about sustainability. You get a small, narrow and uncoated cardboard box , just printed with the Shift logo. Upon opening the box, one is greeted by Shift's motto, which translates to "We do as much good as possible - but do as little harm as possible."

In the box itself you will only find what you really need: the smartphone, right in the protective case and provided with a display film, so that packaging is not necessary. You also get a USB-C charging cable without a power adapter – it is assumed that buyers already have a power adapter. By doing without this, the carton can also be made smaller, which not only saves resources, but also reduces CO2 emissions during transport. And since the Shift6mq is a smartphone that you can open and disassemble yourself for repairs, a Torx screwdriver is also included.

The fact that the scope of delivery is reduced in this way is standard for more and more manufacturers. For example, well-known brands such as Samsung and Apple make sure to keep the packaging small, avoid unnecessary foils and no longer include a power supply unit.

Not more than necessary: ​​Shift completely dispenses with plastic covers when packaging the Shift6mq (Image: xiaomist).

You will also find some information sheets in the box, including information on the company philosophy: Shift stands for rethinking and change in terms of sustainability, fairness and environmental protection and wants to reflect this in its own products. You will also find an information sheet about Shift's partners: the fair search engine Ecosia and WeTell, a start-up that offers sustainable mobile phone tariffs. Finally, there is the deposit certificate, which you must not lose. If you want to part with your Shiftphone at some point, you need both the certificate and the original box to get the 22 euro deposit back. This allows the manufacturer to recycle both the box and the cell phone.

The first impression of the Shiftphone is convincing. The fact that the content was designed in such a minimalist way, without having to do without anything, underlines how the company is already breaking new ground at this point and wants to bring sustainability and fairness closer to the buyers and think holistically for this.

What does the term "sustainability" actually mean? In our xiaomist article we explain it to you:

The Shiftphone: Sustainability you can touch

Compact but heavy

Now we come to the smartphone: The Shiftphone looks unspectacular. However, if you take a closer look, you will find a warning on the bumper : "Smartphones can be time wasters. There is no greater gift for you today than the next 24 hours. Use them wisely. People are more important than machines." A reminder to users of how time-consuming this little everyday companion can be. The weight is also noticeable: At 206 grams, the Shiftphone is relatively heavy, but thanks to the bumper it fits comfortably and securely in the hand.

The bumper itself is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). When asked, Shift stated that the material was chosen because it was robust and at the same time well suited for recycling. On the other hand, the decision was made to use recyclable polycarbonate, i.e. plastic, for the material for the smartphone. Utopia emphasizes: "Like all conventional plastics, polycarbonate is also obtained from petroleum. In addition to the fact that crude oil is a finite resource, its extraction is extremely problematic from an ecological point of view." "Extremely problematic" here means problems ranging from environmental pollution to the extinction of species. However, when I asked, Shift stated that the polycarbonate used already consists in part of recycled plastics and is also resistant. If you open the back flap, you will notice its elasticity - so don't be afraid of opening it frequently!

You have to get used to the upper position of the power button at first (picture: xiaomist).

With a display diagonal of 6 inches, the Shiftphone is a compact smartphone with a 16 MP front camera installed on top. All areas of the smartphone can be reached very well with one hand. The speakers and the USB-C port are located on the underside. While the left side is empty, the volume rocker and the standby button are on the right. The latter is unusually located above the volume button, which was confusing for the first few days of use.

On the top you will find a jack connection . That's right, unlike the Fairphone 4, which we have already presented to you, the Shiftphone does not do without the common headphone output. On the back you'll find a dual camera with flash, which I'll get to later, and underneath it the fingerprint sensor, which hasn't let me down so far.

A look inside

The back of the Shiftphone can be opened - something I've missed on smartphones for a long time. If you remove the back, you will immediately see the large battery with the Shift logo next to the camera and the fingerprint sensor. If you take it out, you can insert a microSD card to expand the internal memory of 128 GB. There are also two slots for SIM cards - having so many slots available speaks for the Shiftphone, as you don't see it that often anymore.

The battery is pretty tight in there, so I just used a plastic card to pry it out. Good to know: The battery also serves as a resistor to the SIM card - if you remove the battery, the SIM card also jumps out. Finally, you need the Torx screwdriver to remove the 14 small screws. Once that's done, you can either run your fingernails or the proven plastic card along the edge to carefully remove the display.

While the Fairphone 4 (right) draws attention to itself with its many colors, the #Lovephone lettering on the Shift6mq catches the eye. The name comes from the Shift community (Image: xiaomist).

So if the camera, the fingerprint sensor or the display have to be changed, it does n't involve much effort for you. And it's just plain fun to take apart a smartphone too - even if it's not certified waterproof thanks to repairability.

Since we are looking at the battery anyway: Shift has opted for a capacity of 3,850 mAh for this. With other devices, you are used to capacities from 4,500 mAh. If I use the cell phone for about 2-3 hours a day, I can get by with one battery charge for almost a day and a half - not very long, but sufficient. Although the manufacturer draws attention to the quick charge function, it takes over 2 hours to charge. Of course, if you charge the smartphone overnight, it makes no difference. What is also noticeable is that when the cell phone is plugged into the charger, it heats up quickly, especially when you are using it.

Does a battery actually always have to be fully charged and discharged? In our video we clear up various myths about rechargeable batteries:

Conscious setup of the smartphone

The Shift6mq can be set up via Google services, so you can easily and quickly transfer your data with an existing Google account. In addition to the Play Store and a folder with other Google apps, only the contacts, settings, music player, gallery and camera are lined up in a menu bar on the home screen. No games or other apps. The lower control panel is already preset with the three back, home and overview buttons, so that the smartphone can be operated quickly and easily. Also, you only have one pre-installed background image available.

The desktop of the smartphone is therefore very minimalistic . Everything you need, be it Instagram, Spotify and Co. can be installed. Personally, I like this very much because it makes the smartphone look very tidy and I am encouraged to think more about which other apps I want to put on my desktop.

Not only the display, but also the background image of the Shift6mq has a very minimalist design (Image: xiaomist).

The Shift6mq still has Android 10 pre-installed, an update to Android 12 is in the works according to the manufacturer. However, if you are looking for an alternative, you can use the ShiftOS developed by the manufacturer without Google services or operating systems from the custom ROM communities (such as LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch), which can be downloaded for free. Shift does not restrict its users, but emphasizes when asked that security updates for the Shiftphone should be available for as long as possible.

The keyboard is the Google keyboard , which means that you have to get used to the fact that the space is not automatically placed after a period. However, double-clicking on the space at the end of the sentence can help.

Performance in theory and in practice

Strong processor, weak display

Although Shift draws attention to the fact that the smartphone quickly becomes a time waster with the Shiftphone, I still looked at whether the smartphone could score in terms of its performance. But before I go into that , a few words about the inner workings: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 clocks as the SoC (system-on-a-chip) in the Shift6mq. This is not the latest processor from Snapdragon, but it will Apps open quickly and a PDF file over 130 pages is downloaded and opened in a few seconds thanks to the 8 GB of RAM. The transmission of images via Bluetooth is also quick.

On the Shift6mq you will find the warning that a smartphone can quickly become a time waster (Image: xiaomist).

Despite the quickly executed commands, the AMOLED display shows slight input delays, and the display only has 60 Hz. It's not annoying, but it's noticeable. Although the Shift6mq has an FHD+ resolution (2160x1080 pixels), individual gradations are visible in dark and bright colors. If you scroll through Instagram, you will notice that the display of the photos deteriorates even further if the photos are not of good quality. On the other hand, the display is easy to read in bright sunshine, but gets a slight blue tint from different viewing angles - you can see that clearly in the above picture of the power button.

Small anomaly: If you watch Netflix, the Shiftphone needs some time to show an image with a higher bit rate and therefore sharper. Likewise, photos on Instagram are sometimes resharpened after a moment and animations in mobile phone games are sometimes slightly distorted. You don't get a gaming smartphone with the Shiftphone. It doesn't want to be that, but you can still expect more from a high-end smartphone.

No music miracle

Let's talk about the speakers: The Shiftphone doesn't set any accents here. If you listen to music, the tones seem rather harsh . Bass-heavy sounds in particular sound hollow and the smartphone levels out loud and quiet rather than highs and lows. In short: the sound lacks volume here.

Looking for good Bluetooth headphones? Then we have some xiaomist recommendations for you here:

This is also particularly evident in telephone calls . My best friend's actually beautiful voice rattled out of the smartphone with a metallic tone, even worse with the loudspeaker switched on. It is also noticeable that the smartphone is not particularly loud. The maximum volume is reached quite quickly without it echoing through the apartment, which will probably please the neighbors. Although I was worried at first whether the alarm would wake me up anyway, the volume is pleasant and sufficient.

When playing music, the Shift6mq isn't quite convincing (picture: xiaomist).

To my surprise, the Shiftphone also offers a large number of different ring tones . You scroll through a very long list and you will definitely find what you are looking for.

Disappointing camera

A dual camera was installed on the back, the main lens of which comes with 16 MP and the effect sensor, which according to the manufacturer works with depth of field, bokeh and more, with 24 MP. When I tested the camera, only the bottom lens was used for both standard and macro shots.

But now let's get to the pictures: In order to get a better comparison, I took pictures with the Shiftphone and the Fairphone. The image quality is quite similar on both smartphones, although you should be prepared for some weaknesses with both. If you look at the lower standard shots, you can see a clear image noise, especially in the branches.

With the Shift6mq, you have to reckon with loss of detail in standard recordings (Image: xiaomist).Although the Fairphone turns the contrast knob, there are also clear blurs here (picture: xiaomist).

In the zoom, the Shiftphone cuts a better figure compared to the Fairphone - even without an optical image stabilizer, which ensures that recordings are not as blurred, they are still clearly recognizable. On the other hand, the depth sensor disappointed me. While the object to be focused on is emphasized, the surroundings don't appear blurry, but rather smeared - the same applies to the Fairphone.

The Shiftphone cannot convince with close-ups (picture: xiaomist).Close-ups with the Fairphone 4 look similar (Image: xiaomist).

It's also not very fun to take pictures with the front camera. Indoors, the lighting conditions have to be really good in order to get a chic selfie, otherwise the image noise will increase again here as well. But even here the Shiftphone is on par with the Fairphone.

If the lighting conditions are not ideal, the image quality of the Shift6mq suffers (Image: xiaomist).

The Shift6mq can not convince with a high camera quality. But if you only take pictures with a smartphone anyway to share a picture with your best friend on WhatsApp from time to time, the Shiftphone is sufficient. In good lighting conditions, the images are quite usable.

A good feeling, but is that enough?

With all the strengths and weaknesses of the Shiftphone , I noticed during the test that I kept questioning my own expectations of a smartphone: I could live with a speaker with weak bass, even with the rather short battery life. But do I want to do without a good cell phone camera? And what is really important to me in a smartphone when sustainability is the priority?

Of course, the main thing that speaks for the Shift6mq is that it is a sustainable smartphone. In their impact report, Shift founders Carsten and Samuel reveal what the supply and production chain behind their products looks like, and that a lot has already been achieved in terms of sustainability and fairness, but that Shift still has a long way to go . The attention to detail, whether it's the warning that smartphones are time wasters or the #Lovephone inside the Shift6mq, gives the Shift6mq character because of its otherwise simple design.

With the Shift6mq, Shift wants to make the world a little better (Image: xiaomist).

All in all, it just feels good to use the smartphone as there are a lot of positives behind it. Nevertheless, I neither want to advise you to buy it nor advise you against it . Because with the Shift6mq you inevitably have to make compromises and decide for yourself whether it's worth it for yourself or not.

Finally, a few words about the price: At over 700 euros, the Shiftphone is significantly more expensive than the Fairphone 4 (579 euros for Fairphone). Behind the high price is the complex production and that Shift is and wants to remain free of investors. If you can wait up to 2 months for your Shift6mq, you get a discount of around 50 euros. The smartphone itself is only available in black. However, if that is too boring for you, there are bumpers (9 euros at Shift) and protective covers made of olive leather (33 euros at Shift) and apple leather (29 euros at Shift) in different colors.

Ratings and technical data

xiaomist test rating in detail: Shift6mq category rating (max. 10) sustainability 9 workmanship, feel and design 7 display 6 cameras 4 software and performance 7 operation 7 telephony and audio 4 storage 9 battery and everyday life 7 total 6.7 specifications: Shift6mq operating system Android 10 (Android 12 in process), Custom ROM support Display 6 inch FHD+ display / AMOLED / 2160 x 1080 / 60 Hz Processor Snapdragon 845 RAM 8 GB Internal memory 128 GB (expandable) Camera 16 MP front camera / 16 MP main camera / 24 MP effect sensor Battery 3,850 mAh (wired) Special features NFC, fingerprint sensor, jack


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