Are the latest versions of Android really imporant for Fairphone(s)?

An interesting topic with slim chances to reach consensus :smiley:

Spontaneously I sympathise with Herve5’s position. For me, fair production is linked to sustainable/responsible consumption, and this in turn means that I stop and think twice before rushing to the store to get the latest gadget.

In addition, experience has taught me that upgrades are not always synonymous to improvements. In the PC world, going from Win 95 to Win 98 was a downgrade, from 98 to ME a horror, from ME to XP a big upgrade, from XP to Vista a downgrade, then up again with Win 7…

In the Linux world one can compare the different family branches: Ubuntu for those wanting a user-friendly system with lots of eye-candy, Fedora for those who want to be at the forefront of development (and accept a certain lack of stability and nasty surprises) and Slackware for those that want a robust and reliable system even if one has to wait for the latest versions of system kernels. Not surprisingly, Ubuntu variants are the most popular while Slackware enthusiasts (including yours truly) are comparatively few.

If growing market shares are of importance - and I think it is, for FP, if the phone is to be something else than just a beautiful idea - the phone must be ‘Ubuntu-like’, which means that the latest Android versions should become available fairly quickly after launching. For the same reason, access to Google Play Store and various google services must be (an optional) part of the system. Enthusiastic tweakers - after all not that many - may have to accept that they will have to wait a few months before gaining access to the latest toys. Luddites like me have the option to refrain from upgrade a working system that serves our needs (knowing that, sooner or later, we have to give in and upgrade if our phone should continue to function properly).

What I hope for, consequently, is that FP follows an adjusts to development while at the same time caring for us Luddites (procuring security patches for older OS versions &c).

And yes, I drive a 16 year old Skoda, too. What else?


Right you are, sir. :thumbsup:

True. (See my post on the other thread: I won’t let Win8 anywhere near my PC. No way.)

However, there is a major flaw in this argument: you would be able to update if you wanted to. You can choose. If you want to run Slackware, you can. But if you want to try out Windows 10 on the same machine, you can try as well. (Today, you can even run Windows on a Mac, which would have caused an uproar years ago…)

Basically, the freedom of choice is what I want from my Fairphone.

I would be happy to run something different than Android, but I see the difficulties. Since it is and Android device at heart I would, however, expect demand insist really, really like it to be able to update the latest version as long as the hardware is able to deal with it.

Agreed. Only reason for mentioning Windows was to point out that we should not take it for granted that every upgrade also makes our life easier. What could be added, though, is the fact that upgrades sometimes makes perfectly useable hardware unuseable - every update of every programme demands more RAM, more diskspace, faster CPU…

Agreed, again. Therefore Android upgrades should be made available (and hardware designed to allow for this), but at the same time (in order to give me the choice not to update) older versions must be maintained, e.g. with security patches (when needed).


I think FP’s hardware won’t be outdated that fast because Google is focusing on developing countries and cheap phones. This would suggest that Android will be optimized also for slower CPUs.

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You’re probably right. Behold the blessings of capitalist neo-colonialism!


The discussion here really is about sour grapes. Some people automatically assume that an upgrade of Android must mean things are getting less good than they are. It’s a baseless assumption, and citing Windows 8 as example is both a clear indication of a grudging 1990’s style Microsoft hate (or should that be “Micro$oft hate”?) as well as a good dose of ignorance.

At this point, arguing against Android upgrades out of a baseless fear that you might be off worse than with the current Android version, despite the vast number of factual arguments in favor really makes no sense to me.

I’m kind of surprised here actually. Similar to my Cyanogenmod post I find it odd that while people were hoorah-ing about the promise of timely Android updates back during the batch 1 pre-ordering period, somehow there’s people actually arguing against Android updates right now. I’m baffled to be honest. Wasn’t one of the arguments regarding planned obsolescence about the lack of Android updates for the flagship products of the large phone manufacturers?


Hi Jerry,

pardon my asking, but have you really read the previous posts in this thread? Where are the people that “automatically assume that an upgrade of Android must mean things are getting less good” and argue against upgrades? I’ve missed them, and I defintiely don’t count myself as being one of them.

I haven’t made the jump to Win8 simply because my present Win7 install gives me all the tools I need. I have no desire to upgrade to KitKat since I cannot see the point in having the software ‘prioritising’ my contacts - I
m perfectly capable of doing that on my own. I get the creeps when I read that “Android Wear organizes your information, suggests what you need, and shows it to you before you even ask”.

But again, and as said above more than once: Those that want this should be given the opportunity to choose, so yes - FP should take Android upgrades into consideration when designing the hardware and when developing the phone-specific software. The only thing I ask for is not being forced to do the same.


One could consider having newer versions of android making the phone more sustainable. Why?

Because one reason for me to get newer smartphones was because of the android version i had to use with some cheap samsung phones.It is true that it is possible to get newer android version with projects like cyanogen mod or similar, but most of the time it was a rather unpleasant experience as there where bugs that never got fixed.

The problem was, that most of these devices did not even get official support from CM or other projects, but where ports of the community. I considered downgrading but did not want to lose all the new features i got used to, so at the end I wanted a new phone. I considered buying a FairPhone but decided to get the Nexus 5 because I know i get at least one major android update. An so hopefully will be longer pleased with my phone and as result not going to buy a new smart phone so soon again.

:smiley: as well as some others automatically assume that no upgrade is catastrophic :smiley:

My hope is there be enough room for both indeed :wink: … and this knowing that Fairphone as a company probably cannot afford to do everything

I understand and respect you wish but i think this is not possible. Google fixes only the worst flaws in old Android releases. They are basically unsupported by now. I think the chances for any updates in Android 4.2 are pretty low. So that means updates to a new android release or no major updates at all.
Also, i am pretty sure Fairphone cannot support two different versions of Fairphone OS at once. And to be fair, i know no smartphone manufacturer, including Apple doing this (appart from very nasty security bugs) .

We will see in the blog post soon what Faitrphone plans.

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In various topics I’ve seen various people state that an upgrade is not always an improvement. The choice of words implies that not having Android upgrades is not a bad situation to be in due to the likelihood of Android upgrades making things worse for FP owners. Maybe I’m misinterpreting these words, but to me it reads like that.

Well, yeah, sure, I guess if you don’t want updates you should be free to choose that. But it’s kind of a tricky situation because that also means you won’t get the security or bug fixes that are part of the newer Android versions, so you might end up shooting yourself in your own foot.

Of course I don’t expect FP to take over the responsibility to continuously develop old Android versions (just as it would be absurd to expect Dell to continue developing WinXP when Microsoft has abandoned it). My expectations are more modest: that updates/patches of Android 4.2 and later (should they appear) will be made available throught FPs updater app, tested to assure that they conform with FP and that FP’s own system files (if needed) are updated.
Consequently, I don’t find it unreasonable to expect FP to support older versions of their own OS parts - not infinitely, but for a reasonable time (2 years?) after launching a new version. And especially if the new version is dependent on new hardware, i.e. that you have to ditch your FP1 and get a FP2 in order to have a supported system. If that happens, the fundamental idea of FP will be compromised.


I don’t think it’s catastropic, but I do want to stay up to date with the latest security fixes and bug fixes. New features are less important to me.

I recently said to someone who mocked me a bit for being stuck at Android 4.2 while Android 5 is about to be released that the release of Android 5 doesn’t make my device worse than it is now. And since I am happy with it right now, it doesn’t bother me that I’m most likely missing out on Android 5.

Taking that reasoning a step further, the discovery of security flaws in Android does actually make my Fairphone less good than it is, because with such discoveries, my phone becomes more vulnerable to malware and other forms of intrusion. So these issues must be fixed. If that can be done by patching the current Android 4.2 based FairPhone OS, then I’m fine with that. If it can’t, however, I’d rather see an Android version upgrade and take all the additional things that come with it for granted.


Oh yes. And I’m among them. To repeat a drastic example: upgrading from Win98 to WinME was not an improvement. But that’s not quite the same thing as saying that upgrading must mean that things are getting less good.

True, again. Which is why I try to find out whether new OS or programme versions really address security issues. However, when looking at Android’s own presentation of KitKat (see - including the ‘read more’ part at the end) I can’t find one single mentioning of important security patches, except maybe the rather cryptical information that ‘Application sandboxes have been hardened with Security-Enhanced Linux’. Whether this repairs a serious security issue or not remains hidden. I don’t bellieve we should take it for granted that every update is necessary for security reasons.

And I’m convinced (until proven otherwise) that one explanation behind the fact that I have never experienced a serious crash on any PC during almost 30 years of computing is that I always keep automatic updates of all software disabled. If I don’t know what’s installed, I don’t own it.


[quote=“kgha, post:13, topic:2267”]
And especially if the new version is dependent on new hardware, i.e. that you have to ditch your FP1 and get a FP2 in order to have a supported system. If that happens, the fundamental idea of FP will be compromised.
[/quote]You’re hitting the nail on the head here… But this also implies, that Fairphone should have an update to a newer version of Android available as soon as, or rather before the “old” one becomes obsolete (IMHO that’d be the case as soon as one or more essential apps will no longer run :frowning: ). One of the main reasons I bought a Fairphone, was the idea of being able to use the device right until the end of the hardware’s natural life. Not having to add to the world’s pollution by throwing away a phone that’d be in perfect working condition, if only the software could have been updated. :expressionless:


Yes, as long as the new Android version is compatible with the FP hardware! The big problem arises when new versions doesn’t run, or run slowly and sluggishly, ‘forcing’ you to throw away an otherwise perfectly working phone.
‘Essential apps’ of course means different things for different users, but quite a few will run for a very long time. The not-so-smart HTC phone I used less than a year ago ran Android 1.6 (not upgradeable) which meant that there were a lot of apps I couldn’t install - Firefox, for example. But I could use a lot of other browsers. However, most apps ran irritatingly slow.
An example worth following (I know, easier said than done) is how Adobe handles flashplayer updates. Latest version is 15.x. For Linux, Adobe gave up development after version 11.x. But they still provide security patches for Linux!

[quote=“kgha, post:17, topic:2267”]
Yes, as long as the new Android version is compatible with the FP hardware! The big problem arises when new versions doesn’t run, or run slowly and sluggishly, ‘forcing’ you to throw away an otherwise perfectly working phone.
[/quote]You’re right there, of course. Trying to run those first Windows-versions (don’t remember which one I started with) on a two- floppy 80386SX MSDOS computer (yes, that’s right: w/o anything as sophisticated as a hard-disk!) “a couple of” years ago taught me that the hard way… :wink: [quote=“kgha, post:17, topic:2267”]
‘Essential apps’ of course means different things for different users,
[/quote] Yeap… I still think of my phone as a communications- device (call me old- fashioned :turtle: ) so to me that would be apps like whatsapp but I can see why others would want to have the latest browsers or E-mail clients to run flawlessly… :smile:

You’re looking at a commercial website whose purpose is to promote the Android 4.4 platform. It’s not strange you won’t find detailed bug fix information in there because that’s not “sexy”, it doesn’t sell the platform to the average user.
However, a simple online search yields many examples of security issues that have been fixed in Android releases newer than 4.2.

The search may be simple, but evaluating the results are not. Can I trust the messenger? Which security issues, if any, have been seen to after the first 4.2 version (I am, after all, not on 4.2 but on 4.2.2)? Are the security issues theoretical, or can they really affect the average user? And so on…

People keep lists of known security issues of Android and if you search for it online, you will quickly find even very prominent flaws such as OpenSSL bugs.

As @Jerry says, too many or to severe security issues really make a phone obsolete. Thus I’d love to see updates to Android on Fairphone.

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