I’m very new to Fairphone; and purchased one last week knowing that I was buying 3 year old hardware. In my case, I would be satisfied if the hardware lasts me two years from now, I am pleased to support the Fairphone project even though I am late to the party.
Reading discussions here; I can see the huge effort that has gone into releasing Andoid 6 (Marshmallow) for the FP2, and the efforts to support FP1 users. I’ve just become aware of how the chip in the FP2 is not Google-compliant for Android 7 (Nougat).
Could it be possible in future to release a new module for the FP2 with a new chipset that would support Android 7, and re-use all other parts of the FP2?
There are obvious financial problems and discussions about priorities, but the first question is just around whether or not such a Fairphone Nougat 2.1 is technically possible?
If it was possible, I would contribute to a crowdfunded effort for Fairphone HQ to attempt it. Perhaps others would also contribute.
Thanks for the link Gerry; it’s interesting to read about that part of the community. In my case; with little experience of loading custom ROMs (not even sure that is the right phrase) and no spare Fairphone for beta testing anything, I won’t be comfortable loading any OS other than the most popular and most supported Fairphone OS.
Also, in my case, I use the Google services heavily. Perhaps Google apps can be side loaded into Lineage, but I don’t want to go down that path, it doesn’t suit me for technical and support reasons.
From a hardware point of view, do you know if the FP2 modular design could support a chip upgrade for Nougat?
There will be no chip upgrade as such. For an official “Nougat” with Google services included, Fairphone probably will not get permission from Google because the respective SoC (System on a Chip) from Qualcomm (Snapdragon 801) is not certified for “Nougat”. Here is why:
The FP2 is 1,5 years old. Just because it’s fair doesn’t mean it ages twice as fast as other phones.
Well that’s the question that has been around since the FP2 was announced to be modular, e.g. here.
Fairphone always said that the main goal of the modularity was an increased repairability and it was not so much about upgrades. However they did upgrade the cover and are (still) working on a camera upgrade.
Judging by the fact that the camera upgrade seems to take ages and they are now concepting an FP3 I’d guess they are not planning/able to upgrade the main module.
However FP2 is not stuck on Android 6 like FP1 is stuck on Android 4. The only thing keeping the FP2 on Android 6 is Google’s official Support - which the FP1 never had. As soon as that is ditched (either by you - installing Sailfish, or by Fairphone - no longer working on FP OS but only Open OS) you’ll have Android 7 on your Phone.
If you just purchased your FP2 last week there can’t be a lot of important Data on it yet that you can’t loose and even if: You can always do a #dic:backup before testing Lineage OS (or other) and come back if you don’t like it. The forum is full of guides and helpful people that can teach anyone how to flash a different OS/ROM.
Google’s official support is only there for two reasons: to be allowed to have GAPPS pre-installed and to get timely Android Security Upgrades. Since LineageOS and @chrmhoffmann provide monthly security updates (at least it looks like it for now - the port is still very fresh), you won’t need official support.
Fairphone never said that. It could theoretically still be possible. Maybe they’ll start working on it after FP3 is released.
A new mainboard with a different SoC on it, probably. But why do they intend to develop Fairphone 3 with lower specifications when they could take the modular design of Fairphone 2 that already exists and exchange the current mainboard type with another? That would save them time and money, and it would be a benefit for everyone: Fairphone, and their current and future customers as well.
Exchanging just the chip would probably not impact the all in all cost of the phone very much. To really get a cheaper phone (comparable to FP1), they’ll probably reduce the screen size. As far as I can tell there is a large overlap of people who think the FP2 is too big and people who think it’s too expensive. But let’s continue that discussion over -> there.
All components are customized to the SoC. Exchanging the SoC therefore means exchanging all components (camera, microphone, modem, etc etc etc.). Not much different to a new phone designed from scratch, plus this is the opportunity to make improvements to the modular framework of the phone.
Fairphone’s modularity has always been about repairability and recyclability. I don’t recall having seen any word in the device pages or story pages promoting any aspect of upgradability inherent in the design. Overall, the ‘benefits’ of Fairphone’s approach I’d say are linked to the four themes in the story section, all of which are works in progress:
Long lasting design: “the world’s first modular phone built for repairability in mind”
Fair products: “creating demand for materials that are good for people and planet”
Good working conditions: “work closely with selected suppliers”
Reuse and recycling: “one step closer to a circular economy”
That is the phrase I should have used at the start of this thread; a new mainboard module for FP2 which would give greater performance and a Google-compliant chip for Nougat. That would be Fairphone 2.1, imho.
@paulakreuzer; installing a custom ROM is not for me. I know it’s not that hard, but it’s something that I can rule out; in my hands it takes too much time crawling forums and feeling out of my depth. It’s simply a skill I don’t want to learn.
Stefan’s post seems to be the final word on this; it doesn’t seem like a new mainboard is plausible for the FP2. Thanks for explaining.
But the used Snapdragon 801 (8974-AA) SoC was released in Q3 2014 (and used in the Blackberry Passport since September 2014), nearly 3 years ago. The SoC being the most deciding component for obsolescence, for the purpose of this discussion I would side with edanto that the hardware is nearly three years old despite the product being assembled significantly later.
And I think herin lies an important lesson for Fairphone: the economic lifespan of an SoC is approximately two years. SoCs and production processes still evolve fast enough (in terms of perf and perf/watt) for parties like Qualcomm to keep releasing new SoCs every year or more often. These SoCs will inevitably be incompatible with earlier chips. With a bit of stretch, you can get OS upgrades for these two years and provide a well supported phone for 3-4 years, but only if you manage to release your phone at the same time as the SoC. Parties like Fairphone don’t have enough volume or engineering momentum to pull this off; it means you’d have to develop the mainboard for the phone from a Qualcomm engineering sample in the few weeks long before final production of the SoC.
Another point I’d like to stress (again ;-)) is that upstream kernels matter! The more the Android kernel diverges from upstream, the more effort needs to be made for an Android upgrade, and thus the less likely it is to happen. On the contrary, if drivers and CPU support live upstream (and Qualcomm is doing quite well in making this happen), the community takes care of this as frameworks evolve.
Hopefully for the hypothetical FP3 you guys can start with an SoC that comes fresh from the presses and make real effort to push for a kernel that is as close to upstream as possible!
Replacing a module with a better one is by definition a module upgrade, no matter what’s the reason behind it. And don’t worry, I know that thread by heart (like almost every thread in the forum ;)). If you have any doubts about that just take a look at my forum stats.
So back on topic, here are the upgrade stats for all modules:
upgraded (to make up for a major flaw)
Upgrade announced to come soon!
Upgrade announced to come soon! (along with the camera upgrade the front camera will be upgraded too)
[quote=“paulakreuzer, post:19, topic:29331”]
Replacing a module with a better one is by definition a module upgrade, no matter what’s the reason behind it.[/quote]
Well, this may be just nit-picking on my side, but I would hardly call replacing a part that is not working with one that is an upgrade. Would you really call it an upgrade if you have a bike, where you can not fix the saddle due to a construction error and get in exchange a saddle that can be fixed because it is better constructed?
To prove my point and show that I talk from own experience, I had two tranparent covers falling apart before I opted for replacement. As I wanted to prolongue useage before replacement, I always waitet, until the cover was no longer holding on.
Of course, in the end, as I said, lets call it picking hairs and agree, that the new covers are way better and durable. (Although tbh I do miss the transparent design and are still disappointed, that I did not get the colour I want, because I am “just a warranty case” and no paying customer .)
I know, of course, I just wanted to get the “First Link” badge.
And - naturally - this link was intended for all the other users reading this thread before the other one.
Edit @paulakreuzer s reply
I give you that point.
Just to take the lameness out of my comparative illustration:
Ok, make it saddle, that comes fixed, but is sure to fall off after half a year of riding, being replaced by one that stays fixed. Or take a car with a gear box, that is going to break after just 1000 km driving.
Btw: Would you know, if there are really original covers out there, that have lasted longer than 9 months. I have my doubts, but of course hope to be wrong.