Airgapped Fairphone Crowdfunding Idea - The Hitchhiker's Guide


First of all, I am a big fan of how you guys make your phone, this is why I am posting this here first.

Due to numerous security and freedom concerns, I would like to own a second smartphone, that is a mixture of a companion and a hitchhiker’s guide.

I would be very intersted in owning a Fairphone without any radio connectivity. Like an iPod Touch without wifi or Bluetooth. This seems like the easiest solution, because apparently no phone manufacturer is able to produce a free as in freedom device.

So my proposal is, that Fairphone could launch a Kickstarter and do a larger batch of airgapped Fairphones. Because many people seem highly interested in a mobile companion. Fairphone would be the first to do so.

I can really see the device. Offline wiki, a nice DAC, a good camera and dual micro SD for internal backups.

Also, I don’t really see anything speaking against it. Upon succesful crowdfunding Fairphone would really just need to make a batch that leaves out the radio chips.

How does everyone feel about this ?

Not sure if you know it already and if it really is what you want, but probably is something for you.

And wifi/camera come with hardware kill-switches.


I don’t think that this idea is “mass-compatible”. Most people (including me) want a device which shows recent information to them.

However, this idea is interesting, as it would be a digital camera, MP3 player, e-book reader, address book, notepad and calculator in one device. But, as I said above, most people want more.

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There’s an app called Survival Manual, and also I recommend an offline map (Google Maps allows offline usage).

As long as the firmware of the modem is proprietary, and the 4G connection can be downgraded to 2G, its susceptible to Stingray attack.

You can already: Enable airplane mode. Disable Bluetooth, WiFi, 2G/3G/4G (remove the SIM card). You’d need 4G only; no 2G/3G.

BTW, a phone and airgap are mutually exclusive. A phone, by its very definition, has a 2G/3G/4G radio. And there are (almost) no open source firmware for 4G modems.

Hate to burst your bubble but I don’t think there’s a big market for such a device. We don’t see masses of people running around with airplane mode 24/7.


I don’t see the point of dual microSD.

You can already install Wikipedia application + DB for offline usage. Does require some big storage though.

Current FP2 does all that, with or without airplane mode.

Spotify allows offline usage. I use my Premium account all the time offline. I could sync up with WiFi only enabled at home, or I suppose via USB.

If you’re serious about reading books do yourself a favour and get a dedicated e-reader. I recommend Kobo Aura series.

As for digital camera, other high end smartphones support good cameras these days.

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Google Maps and Spotify need a network like Wi-Fi to download offline data, so it’s incompatible with that device which needs a deployment via USB cable.

Digital-to-analog converter. Is used when playing sounds.

True, but it does not require any networking on the go. No data plan or WiFi. OP wrote: “Like an iPod Touch without wifi or Bluetooth.” iPod Touch used USB. SD cards are also dangerous in air gaps, and an airgapped phone is a contradictio in terminis.

Why is this necessary?

And you could use only “bought”, not “rented” music.

A DAC is necessary when there is an analog audio output like a speaker or a headphone socket.

But I won’t have to maintain the music on the device. I used to have to do that via USB (on an iRiver H340 with 40 GB back when like 4 or 8 GB was standard on iPods). Its a lot of work and takes a lot of time.

Now I outsource that. I got Spotify Premium free but normally it costs 10 EUR/month. That’s relatively cheap if you consider the cost of a CD or vinyl or iTunes (1 USD per track!) back in the days.

Wait, you’re saying it is needed for a 3.5mm socket? So a FP2 already has that feature.

Although these days there’s even Bluetooth speakers (example).

Hi Ingo,

I know about purism and it’s a great idea. But purism doesnt look out for an ethical production of their products.

Other than that it’s exactly what I’m looking for. Just a little steep.



It has been proven that google is capable of tracking your phone in airplane mode and without a sim card. Even when it’s off. Because you don’t really know that it’s off.

Don’t really need a market - it could just be a one-time kickstarter. It would earn Fairphone some respect and they could sell some devices. I can’t imagine it being that complicated to offer a radio-less ipod touch version of their device. And as I said, they’d be the only ones doing it. So whoever is looking for something like that could potentially get on the fairphone wagon.

And I’m talking about carrying it alongside with your other phone. They’re that small now anyways. A few years back people hauled massive analog SLRs, tape recorders, nokias and all other sorts of equipment. A second sub 200g device certainly has space in my pocket.

Also, there is no market, because there is no device. I’m coming from a free as in freedom software point of view. We largely have the client server model and having a portable phone-sized device is something new for most people. I really like having my own data and not being reliant on any online providers.

dual micro SD to keep your pictures backed up or have even more storage. Those cards can fail and there certainly is enough space for 2 in such a device.

I don’t like spotify. In my opinion it ruins the potential rise of young and unknown musicians and earns a middle-man (spotify) a lot of money whilst also tracking you. Making good music is a lot of work and I can’t see that happening with spotify.
When listening to music I have a vinyl-like approach. I take my time with an album to really get to know it.

I have an e-reader but mostly buy used books because I like having them.

thank you for your long reply,

I’m talking about a good DAC like in those FLAC players. most portable devices feature low-end or ‘just good enough’ DACs. A better one isn’t that expensive (I’m guessing 20-30 €) and I’d be willing to pay for that.

Not the most important feature though.

For the majority of people, they can just use airplane mode and disable the scanning feature (that’s the one you are referring to I guess).

If you do not trust Google, I recommend you don’t use Android. A hardware switch to turn of radios is just a hack around that. It can work, Librem is following that route.

You could construct a faraday cage as well. You could surround a FP2 with aluminium foil, though not the screen.

The majority of people are not this paranoid though. Which is why there’s no market for this device.

You can create demand, yes, but that requires effort. It doesn’t come magically for free.

Kickstarter projects need a market (demand); else they fail. You can gauge interest with a Kickstarter project, but it takes time and effort; therefore money. If the volume is too low, the R&D for the project won’t see ROI. So, yes, you do need a market. I am not going to discuss this specific argument further with you, btw.

It is the same with Spotify. You don’t like Spotify, that’s fair enough. But for the vast majority of people, vinyl or buying CDs or ripping these or even downloading MP3s is just too much hassle. And for people who are privacy oriented and who want to avoid Bluetooth and WiFi tracking, airplane mode is then sufficient.

Failing SD cards? Get an industrial grade SD card. These fail far less. They do cost more as well, though, but the option is available for you right now, including for the FP2. Example: (ATP, via Digikey).

Dual microSD is a terrible way to backup. If you lose your device (stolen, lost, damaged) then you lose your backup! You should keep your backup offsite, not with the device, and ideally encrypted.

Your idea is not really new, btw. See e.g. Hardware switch for microphone and cameras to improve privacy


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