Discussion "Our approach to FP1(U) software and ongoing support..."

Hopefully you’ve seen the blog post from Fairphone about the future support for the FP1(U) and their approach to software.

I’m sure it will come as a disappointment to some that Fairphone haven’t been able to achieve what they set out to for the software side of things, which is what we’d started to suspect would be the case. It does also clarify Fairphone’s intention to continue developing and supporting the FP1(U) which is a positive.

So we’re stuck with Android 4.2.2 but at least we know Fairphone will continue to update FP OS, and we’ll get fixes and security patches.

There has been a lot of discussion on the forum about software, support and what people would want as an OS, but I thought it would be good to have one place to discuss this now based on what we know.

So what do you all think?



These are really bad news for me.
NO Bluetooth LE (NO Accessories with BT LE)
we have to buy the next fairphone for a software upgrade. (sounds familiar??)
the phone lifetime ends when Google decide to end the support for 4.2 in the store (no extended lifetime)

I hoped for a plan like:" we teamed up with XXX to support there OS on the fairphone"



I do not understand why they do not help to make the Cyanogenmod port better!
Cyanogenmod works already and if they would achieve to make Bluetooth work it would be already great.

Or is this not possible?

The blog article lines out my fears (and I think the fears of many others here on the forum) in one sentence:

Still the blog post does not explain which measures Fairphone is taking in actively supporting the development of custom roms: Is there e.g. any contact between Fairphone and chrmhoffman? How comes chrmhoffman can achieve something which Fairphone can’t?


I think it has to do with legal issues. What chrmhoffman does probably isn’t legal either, but he doesn’t care and nobody cares about him. If FairPhone were to officially support that though, they’d have MediaTek’s lawyers knocking at their door.

It’s a shame the blog post pretty much confirms that we’re stuck on Android 4.2, but it’s good to see they’re integrating security fixes into FairPhone OS, which was my biggest concern. I wonder if they’ll be able to get BlueTooth LE working on Android 4.2 though. That’s a pretty big thing if they got that working.

Last but not least, I wonder what chipset will power the FP2 :slight_smile:


Well, in my opinion the fairphone won’t be really outdated until maybe 2 years from now.
While I am still figuring out android development I find it not unlikely, that some kind of unofficial upgrades will pop up until then.
Also, I would like some info on how “illegal” for example a cm port would be (as suggested here by @Jerry )
Is the problem that chrmhoffmann used proprietary drivers from another mtk device?
Can a community dev get off easier than a phone company if he builds a “hacked” rom?
Why would Mediatek even care?

I’m not sure if they, as a company, can redistribute cyanogenmod.
And if making BT work were so trivial, then I’m sure somebody would have done it already.
Bluetooth along with camera, GPS, etc relies on proprietary drivers, which Mediatek may or may not release, but hasn’t, yet.

Anyway I am quite happy with the promised upcoming updates to (jellybean) Fairphone OS.
At this time, only my inner geek needs new shiny new Android versions.

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For me, the most important issue seems to be addressed in FP1.8 (and hopefully in later updates), namely security patches.
Till I got my FP in January I used an old HTC, not upgradeable beyond Android 1.6. That meant that I was shut off from a lot of apps that required at least Android 2.2. In everyday life the consequences were limited, however. I couldn’t install the Firefox browser, for instance - but there were plenty of alternatives (e.g. Opera, Dolphin and many others). What really became annoying in the long run was hardware-related (slow processor, insufficient RAM).
Personally, I can’t imagine that not being able to upgrade beyond 4.2 will make my phone useless in just a year or two.
The important thing is security patches, but I’m perfectly happy with a model that resembles Adobe’s support for the Linux version of Flashplayer, which is updated regularly although still version 11 (while there’s a version 16 for Win and Mac).

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I think the (compatibility) differences between 1.6 and 2.x are much bigger than between 4.2 and 5. I’m not afraid of apps being incompatible with 4.2. One of the reasons being that Jelly Bean is still the biggest shareholder in the Android eco system. If your app doesn’t work on 4.2, then you’re shutting out a huge portion of Android users. For most apps, there won’t be a technical reason not to work on 4.2 anyway.

Well it is dissapointing but the openness and honesty of Fairphone made it clear, to me, that nothing was put in stone yet.

And while I regret knowingthat I will not be able to move away from Android, I still support you guys. Hang in there, in the meantime I’ll enjoy my fairphone, it’s the smart thing to do. :wink:

Good luck for the future! Hopefully you’ll apply the lessons learned. :wink:


To be honest I don’t understand most of the ‘techy’ talk here. For me the bottom line is should I or shouldn’t I buy a FP in January 2015? My current phone isn’t going to last much longer and I was really hoping to buy a more sustainable and ethical phone. Is FP that phone or will it be more or less useless in a couple of years?

If you are having doubts, you should wait for the FP2, which will arrive in the second half of 2015. In the meantime, you could use a friend’s phone, I’m sure someone close to you has an unused phone at home. :slight_smile:

@JaneP - if you just want a phone and have no “techy” interests, then you have nothing to worry about here :smile:

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We are actively looking at ways to achieve this goal, but we’re trying
to be realistic and face the fact that the first Fairphones will most
likely not be upgraded beyond Android 4.2.

It’s really rather disappointing :frowning:

Selfishly, I was hoping to use Google Wear (primarily as a user and secondarily as a hobbiest developer), which as far as I know has a strict requirement for 4.3+. Bluetooth LE would be really nice too, if that’s achieveable through backporting. More generally, I had hoped that not being tied to a big (uncaring) manufacturer would make things easier from the software upgrade side of things.

There’s the cyanogenmod ROM which @uudddu mentioned, but development seems to be slow (stalled?) and not an option for people like me who would need bluetooth for the Wear integration (and a second SIM!).

Despite having some rudimentary knowledge of development I’m far and away from a device developer / behind-the-scenes type and so I don’t think I can contribute much :-/ It’s frustrating, as the major pieces are there: mostly open hardware, cyanogenmod; although we’re lucky to have those it’s not quite enough it seems!

Is there anything we, the Fairphone community, can do to bolster efforts either on the FP side of things or the CM side? The post I linked to in the thread at xda-developers mentions a bounty, but is that the most productive way to go?

I think the most important thing would be to get in contact with chrhoffmann, the guy who ported CM to the FP. If someone could talk to him/her to see his/her side of the things, then maybe we could come to terms and development could continue. It seems that nobody has managed to get in contact with chrmhoffmanm.

I cannot believe this isn’t discussed more. Having just received the mail requesting interest in FP2 this really did it:
I’m hugely disappointed in Fairphone B.V. Instead of trying to do everything for FP1 they plan on doing other obsolent hardware. There’s no real upgrade to be seen in 1.6 and 1.7. Update 1.8 is postponed indefinitely. Sustainability was one of the biggest principles of FP and now it seems they are more caring about making a quick bang. For me sustainability is the only true fairness you can show to any living thing on this planet.
Of course you can use your FP1 till the hardware dies (that’s five to ten years for me) but in two years this will be dangerous if you roam the internet (or even receive a spam SMS!). Using it as a phone is no problem but then again I could also use my “brick phone” from 2002. Using CyanogenMod is no option either because it will never have updated core elements let alone recent drivers because MediaTek will not release source code. With enough pressure I’m sure this would have been possible to do for a company like FP.

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Note, that there is the FP beta program currently running:

And you think 2 years to be acceptable? Not my idea of a ‘fair’ product…

Thanks for the link, Stefan. I sent a sign-up mail. A newsletter about this development would have been nice since I’m not around the forums regularly. I’m sure you will get more devs this way.
Let’s see what they are doing in the beta program. I presume they are trying to better FP OS or the upgrade mechanism. I doubt that it will include any new Android internals or MediaTek drivers but I’d like to be proved wrong.

I haven’t received an answer from beta program. I guess they have enough or they put every employee on selling … Recruiting customers on development is another sign how bad this is going. Does anybody know what’s going on there?
There was a news article on heise.de about the FP2 quoting Olivier Hebert that there will no further development beyond Android 4.2

A sh**storm followed in their forums and I was about to chime in. Their were some valid points like that a small start-up can’t really chose the manufacturer. But in the end this has a really bad aftertaste as to why they didn’t just take a slower, easier SoC and tried to run an alternative OS from the beginning. Instead they chose contrary to sustainability just something cheap that works to get it out as fast as possible. This surely was written many times I just had to get it out.
I will try to use my FP1U till the hardware dies. Maybe sooner than we prefer we will have to install CM.

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I think what we as a community are coming up against is the frustration of the complication of the phone market.

As far as FP choosing a chipset, this isn’t the case. The chipset is selected by the manufacturing partner. The manufacturing partner holds this licence with the chipset vendor - therefore FP have very little control over this.

As the FP team are trying to produce a ‘fair’ phone they have to have control over what goes into the phone and that’s what their aim is to do. That immediately limits the manufacturing partners available.

From what we think we know already (Source: Here) the manufacturing partner for the FP2 has a licence for Qualcomm… so from my understanding this is a better situation to be in.