FAIRPHONE 3 and 3+ A13 - Fingerprint sensor update

How do I make sure that I stay on version 11? My FP3 keeps prompting me to upgrade and I don’t want it to happen by accident - I’ve got too many apps that will be affected!


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I will stick to A11 even if frequently being notified to update and have to watch out for (hardware) alternatives. 15 months after having purchased my FP3+ this is not what I intended. I’d have no problem sticking to A11 or A12 but loss of fingerprint functionality is not an option.

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Check this post:

It seems that it works: 1 and 2.


I think you’ll find A12 has the same issue and wasn’t released by Fairphone

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It’s true some people on this forum are very protective of Fairphone and they can on occasion shout if you question decisions that FP make. Just think of them as cult members :exploding_head: I’ve been shouted at in the past, probably will be again :wink:

Back on topic : I was dead against this upgrade to start with, until the alternative of not offering an upgrade was pointed out. That would mean FP3 would be end of life for everyone early next year. I have no intention of upgrading to A13, so FP3 is effectively EOL for me (yes I am annoyed), but at least people have that choice. Upgrade or don’t. Major annoyance besides the lack of COMMs is FP didn’t wait until A11 was EOL before pushing A13.

I am with you regarding challenging Fairphone. They have alienated a fair proportion of their existing customer base on several occasions who may not ever come back. I hope for all our sakes FP explore all options regarding the sensor and eventually report back to us, either with a solution or full reasons why not.

That is now part of Android 13. I don’t think FP can do anything about that?

Do you think Fairphone will still be around in 10 years?
Eva Gouwens’ (CEO) has announced she is stepping down.

It was an idea mooted earlier that existing devices being upgraded did not need to comply with current Goodle legislation. Grandfather rights if you like.

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What is really annoying is that the backplate with the fingerprint sensor is the only non-replacable part of that phone. I.e. this is FP’s Achilles’ heel. Really, all other aspects I so far benefited from.
Yes I was totally pissed of when confronted with the A13 upgrade, FP is only part of that. I understand the need to “move on” and upgrade/improve the software which in this turn deprecates hardware in favour of increased security. However I’m not able to ascertain if deprecating that sensor firmware is a right choice. But then this was Google’s choice and NOT FP’s one.
And also again like others mentioned before: FP not mentioning this incompatibility is a major issue, definitely a no-go. Didn’t any of the testers complain? Except maybe for my parents in law generation: who does NOT rely on this fingerprint sensor nowadays?
So, FP, if you want to keep your promise, give us a new firmware which allows us upgrading to A13 or allow us to buy a new backplate with new fingerprint sensor.

Yes they did.

It isn’t the only non-replaceable part. Include the NFC sensor, SD and SIM slots. I’ve never taken the case off the motherboard to reveal the relationship between it and the sisterboard where I think? the fingerprint sensor is located (citation required). However, all those parts are fixable / able to be replaced by Cordon in France.

Yeah sorry I read about the complaints, thanks for pointing that out!
I disassembled the whole phone few times, exchanging the Mainboard which holds the SOC and flash (???) package / Disk (sorry, I’m not aware ATM what it actually is) with another FP3 to get a working fingerprint sensor, as the original one was broken, which is why I said it’s the only non-replacable part :innocent: Can’t disassemble it right now to check again :sweat_smile: my main point here was that the Fairphones to that regard are great in my experience. I hope there will be a solution to the fingerprint sensor such that we can keep the existing phones for sustainability and less waste.

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Just as one example, I do not use the fingerprint sensor at all because biometrics is too weak for my security model :grinning:

There is no doubt that many users rely on their fingerprints and smartphones for many aspects of life including finances. But I prefer to avoid such a single point of failure.


Ok thanks, never heard of that.

Great, thank you! Much appreciated

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I am also very surprised and disappointed that the fingerprint sensor is simply given up as part of the hardware sold. If the manufacturer no longer offers firmware, then you just have to buy it. I would also be willing to pay for it. If an OS update causes a part of the HW to no longer work, then the question arises as to what will fail next. And if that’s the case, then Fairphone’s concept of sustainability is actually in question. For me, my Fairphone has clearly lost a major part of its practical value and I will probably have to look for another phone much sooner than I thought.


The fingerprint reader of the FP3 uses the level 2 as defined in Level 1, 2 and 3 Details. Since Android 12, Google wants at least the level 3 (description at the same page) to get a higher level of trust that the fingerprint is a good one (don’t know how to say it in better terms).

I don’t think a firmware update of the fingerprint reader will change anything here since it is quite unlikely Fairphone used a level 3 fingerprint reader but decided to decrease its safety using it as a level 2 fingerprint reader.


The way I understood it, the fingerprint reader was level 3 (of that time) when the FP3 was designed and initially produced. Only later Google downgraded it to level 2. Maybe not explicitly by saying “fingerprint XY by manufacturer ABC is no longer level 3 but 2” but by changing their test procedures that the same fingerprint reader passed for level 3 in A11 test procedures but no longer passes in A12 test procedures or later.

Not sure if the analogy perfectly fits here, but I think of this as similar like encryption key lengths. If a device was sold using a 2048 bit encryption key that may have been up to the highest security standards of that time. But once 2048 bit is no longer seen as secure (maybe because new ways were found to break it or simply the hardware for brute force attacks got better or the storage to hold huge rainbow tables - maybe even salted ones - got cheaper, etc.) and 4096 is the new standard, that old key strength is no longer enough.


Me too, if it is allowed to say this for Fairphone support. My Wife just had to reset her phone completely and for OS update she had no choice but Android 13. Now she can’t use Digitales Amt Austria any more. Fortunately, she continued to use PIN with Mein ELBA for banking. I still have Android 11, but support will end soon and the only FP3+ update offered is Android 13. This would mean a life period of only 3 years for our phones. We certainly would pay for a new fingerprint sensor module too.


Yeah, honestly I’m already planning to buy a new phone by next year, because I don’t know how long my banking app and password manager would work after A11 EOL. After seeing how “long” a FP actually lasts, I don’t see why I should buy another one, instead of buying a far cheaper option with about the same lifespan. Or even a refurbished one.

FPs are on the expensive side for the hardware they have, but I could have justified the expense because they lasted more. Instead, my FP3 is going to be useless after only three years, about the same time my older phone (which I paid about 150€ and replaced because of support issues now long fixed) will become useless for the same reason. So why shouldn’t I buy another cheap phone?

Useless ? Are the apps you use in the list of non working apps ?

Since you didn’t pick raw materials getting sourced more fairly and/or workers being treated more fairly for justification, why shouldn’t you, indeed.

Ecologically this would be a good choice, but software longevity might be a concern with this, too.


It would be another phone now. I had a FP 1 before. While being very laggy and sad to use, I kept it running for over 4 years until eventually replacing it with the FP 3 beginning 2021. Which means I had my FP3 just over two years yet. Besides the fair trade aspect, longevity due to extended software support was the other major reason to lower my requirements on the hardware yet again compared to other models from the same year.
If that support is now rendering part of the hardware to at least 50% useless is not (only?) FP’s fault IMO, but if their is no solution to the issue coming our/my way any time soon, that will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Having dashed out that money for this phone and having to replace it now is pretty rubbish. But I want security updates AND usable hardware.
Which means that after 6+ years (and I was hoping many more to come) my urge to getting a fast chip, lots of RAM the greatest cameras, a better reacting (and apparently more secure) finger printing scanner will get the better of me :face_with_peeking_eye:

I mean there is hope that they have a way of pushing updates based on the OS version!?

Yeap. They are there and I got a few others not listed, but which most likely will be in that list ones I upgrade :confused:

I don’t know, but it is possible as seen with the FP4 Android 12 update. It wasn’t pushed to all phones first, because of a compatibility issues with some providers. And Android 11 got at least one update too, before the issue with Android 12 was solved.

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