Fairphone 3 -- Hardware and obsolecence discussion

Apart from the arguments already brought by other people (energy use, reuse rather than recycle, etc.), I think this idea would also be very difficult to realize from a logistics/business standpoint. Presumably only a limited number of FP2 users would trade in their old FP2 for a new FP3 (particularly with this particular group of buyers, which is very longevity- and sustainability-oriented) - this means that Fairphone would have to design and implement two completely separate production processes. One that involves refurbished/recycled parts from the FP2 (which also have to be separated, tested for functionality, etc.) and one that builds an FP3 from scratch, without any prior parts. Not to mention that for the first model, the parts that can be reused might be different from each old FP2, so it’s not like you could standardize this process very well.

Also: what kind of warranty/guarantee would Fairphone be able to give on those new FP3s, if some of their parts are from old FP2s? And how many buyers would be willing to buy a half-new, half-refurbished phone with either no guarantee or individualized guarantees for every individual part, based on whether it’s new or refurbished…

I think this would be enormously difficult to realize, personally. Given how challenging the production of the FP2 (all from scratch, but modular, fairer and in small quantities) has been and how much frustration it has caused among users (due to bugs, delivery delays, etc.), I don’t think this would be a good path for Fairphone to take at this point.

What I could rather imagine is that Fairphone takes back old FP2s (in general, whenever people stop using them) and has them recycled properly and then tries to feed some of the recycled raw materials back into their production. But this is a lengthy process and can’t be done one-to-one, old FP2 to new FP3. Plus I don’t think this is what you meant to suggest.


You have convinced me !


A post was split to a new topic: When will the Roadmap be updated?

There’s a few ways how an older model of a product can become obsolete with a general example:

  1. Lack of security and reliability fixes. Globally speaking when this happens to a product early in its cycle, I suggest to vote with your wallet and not buy from that vendor anymore (e.g. I would not buy a Google Nest if my Revolv just got obsolete. Although I wouldn’t buy a Google Nest anyway but that’s besides the point :D).
  2. Wearing and tearing. An example, after say 500 cycles of your battery (for the sake of argument say about 2 years) the Li-Ion battery will start to work less well.
  3. Non-backwards compatible ‘revolutions’. Allow me to clarify. The touchscreen was a revolution, and eventually everyone was going to have a phone with one (a capacitive touchscreen). Early models in such a revolution might not be the best, there might be a popularity turning point where people jump upon the bandwagon.
  4. And this one’s very personal: are the software and hardware features provided still adequate? Well, that’s a can of worms…

Here’s my take on each of these from a FP2 viewpoint. I don’t know about the FP1.

Issue #1 doesn’t seem to be an issue. FP2 is getting adequate software updates. Of course, phone’s still only half a year old. Reading the FP1 was one of the first phones to receive Stagefright fixes is very promising. (My previous phone runs Android 6.0 now, yet it took about 4 months to receive the OTA patch.)
Issue #2 is not an issue because you can actually easily replace the battery (and screen, and a lot more).
Issue #3 MAY be an issue, but the modularity of the FP2 MAY also be able to mitigate it. We do not know what the future holds. Will we require very quick processors in 2 years to use Android? Much more RAM? A stronger GPU? NFC? Can standards such as MicroUSB and Bluetooth mitigate the problem? It is difficult to say because we don’t know what the future holds.
Issue #4 is going to be an issue for sure, but it is very personal. Different people with different backgrounds will have different limits and viewpoints here. It is here where we’ll find discussion & disagreement and it is here where we will need to respectfully disagree with each other, while still listening of course :slight_smile:

I want to mention one elephant in the room though. If you (generally speaking) start spreading FUD about how the FP2 is doomed because the FP3 is on the way that is going to harm the adoption of the FP2. If the FP2 doesn’t sell well that means less money available for R&D on FP3, for software updates on FP2, etc.


Hei All!

I was among the first few thousand in buying the Fairphone 1 for its fairness and hardware. I have only used that phone since and as I have done advocay in the cause it is very difficult to switch anything else either as this would be giving up on one’s principles. My challenge is that I would like to switch to a new fairphone 2 or 3 in the near future for reasons of increased fairness, bigger screen, better camera and longer battery life. But this raises the question is the Fairphone 2 better in this respect or not, it looks not for all points. And thus I would need to know if there will be a Fairphone 3 or not or will the choice by Fairphone be to provide upgrades to Fairphone 2. If it was announced that there will be no Fairphone 3 other than a variant with module upgrades I would go right ahead and buy the Fairphone 2 as I would know I can upgrade it along and keep up with the developments. BUT as long as I do not know I cannot buy the Fairphone 2! So for the sake of increasing the Fairphone 2 sales it would be good to get the information out that the next Fairphone will be a Fairphone 2 with upgraded modules or else I will conclude that there will be a completely new Fairphone 3.

Also I cannot understand how an indepth review on the Fairphone 2 does not exist where half of the time goes to taking the phone apart and putting back together. A review where you get a good understanding on the camera quality, battery endurance ect. Also a Fairphone 1 vs. Fairphone 2 would be ideal. Because like myself there is mostlikely a lot of Fairphone 1 users who are not convinced that the Fairphone 2 is actually better than the Fairphone 1. One main reason for this is that the battery life on their Fairphone 1 is pretty good and, it does not look to be even close to that good on the Fairphone 2.


Short overview

FP1 Old, no update to Android 5 ever. Its USB port tends to break. Mainboard and battery are expensive, the display is often sold out, fixing a FP1 is often not cost efficient, without an extra case it will get damaged quickly. Even open and closing the phone a few times damages its plastic rim. It’s a normal, older MTK phone with a few “fair” minerals inside.

FP2 Some on-going software/hardware glitches (the worst one, that is not on the official or unofficial list is random crashes of the whole phone, not sure if this one is fixed yet. Just reading the forum it looks like there is something wrong with the modem and/or the antenna in some devices). The phone is modular, most parts can get exchanged. Android 5 and Android 6 is out for other phones with the same chipset. Currently monthly software updates (yes, that’s a good thing), the camera could get better quickly with an easy snapin replacement, a pretty, but not prefect case comes with the phone. According to some posts here all T3G minerals were included in some parts, but I haven’t seen prove for that down to the part level. I think @Johannes listed something somewhere here in the forum :slight_smile: (I found the link, so far, there is still no parts list for that.)


I don’t think you will get a straight answer here.

But let me ask a question: How urgent do you need a phone … and for what kind of use?

We all could talk for ages about the FP1 and FP2, but it the end it comes down to what kind of tool you need to get through your day. I figured out after some time with the FP1 that I don’t need a smartphone daily at all, but for other people this does not work at all. It’s easy to get sucked into the mobile always-on world with its siren-servers calling out. Just take a subway and look around :wink:

The FP2 is much better than the FP1. The software seems to have some glitches (just check the forum) and the Changelog is not very clear about what the problems are and if they are fixed or not. Currently they are getting better with the updates and fixes, but it’s not perfect yet. There are “better” Snapdragon based phones out there (battery, camera), but the FP2 is the best modular LOHAS phone. You can even build your own rom for yourself (and only for yourself) if you like to geek. If updates keep coming in, the FP2 (with a new camera module) could be better in the future than many of those fancy locked down phones right now. But even ZTE and Google open up their phones a bit these days, at least software-wise, not in terms of supply chains and T3G.

But if you really depend on your phone every day, an iPhone with a good protective case with extra power and a good always on backup system might be more reliable and more stable … if you don’t like to think about technical issues and updates and just want a phone that pretty much works “perfect”. (Or just doesn’t give you a chance to make mistakes :wink: )

Just my ideas for your thoughts of course.


You are describing my current scenario…

My old phone Samsung Galaxy is 4 years old now, August 2016, and its microphone is starting to fail. FairPhone 2 is 1 years old now and I am gonna wait for FairPhone 3, hoping there will be no binary blobs involved in it anymore…

I wish there was an official clear statement on development and servicing cycles from FairPhone guys…

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I don’t think they will or are able to do this. A “free software” phone (Stallman-Style) is not their main focus. And to be honest, currently also made impossible by the other conflicting unofficial Fairphone goal:

Building a phone that plays in the same “league” as standard commercially available phones.

Also no questions regarding intellectual property (FP/modules/cores) and how SoCs are chosen are getting answered. So a discussion about these goals is nearly impossible.

I don’t mind bin blobs for a camera module, but I want at least to be able to discuss openly why other alternatives are impossible and why a certain SoC was chosen. Try to find this information for the FP1 or FP2 and let me know if you’re able to find it … :wink:

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It might not be as impossible as you think. The EOMA68 project (https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop) has succesfully created a blob-free desktop with all features but 3D hardware acceleration. Furthermore, the current card could even fit inside a modern phone casing, it seems to me.


Well, I don’t know if the Allwinner A20 supports more than 2GB of RAM, but besides this the main issue here is integrating a modem with such an device. Most current modems are not standalone but integrated in an SoC and to my knowledge all require non-free blobs (however, since some are separated from the SoC this would be acceptable for the beginning).

Do you know of any current (LTE) modems which would integrate with such a board?

As many people said, the next fairphone should have the same structure as the FP2 so if we have a problem with the motherboard (processor and stuff) we just buy the new motherboard with the new processor (up to date), so we will be able to keep the screen and all the other stuff like an upgrade of the first FP2. For me, if they create a new FP design every two years like Apple, I’ll stop buying their stuff and I’m sure I will not be the only one. When I bought a FP, I was looking for something that was long lasting. I can understand that the FP1 helped to start the FP2. Now FP2 is a good design for me, it’s not a problem to buy a motherboard to change the processor but I want to be able to keep the working pieces of my old FP. Just to say that if they change the design they will lose their credibility in front of the community. With the current design (FP2), they have a good skeleton to make nice upgades for the next 10 years. For me, the size and weight is not a problem. The most important is the philosophy behind it.


Bingo. Qualcomm decided not to include new features required by Google (Vulkan Graphics API) in its Snapdragon 800/801 driver. So, as things are now, the Fairphone 2 is outdated and will not go officially (with Google’s consent) beyond Marshmallow. That will lead in the long term (I think after mid 2018) to open security holes and app incompatibilities.

I strongly hope that Google and Qualcomm re-think their point of view and enable Nougat for Snapdragon 800/801 devices. There are a lot of affected devices from different manufacturers. And there are a lot of angry Sony customers who lost their trust in Sony because of that.

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Vulkan use a layer that have hardware needs, Qualcomm can’t “just” make it compatible…

Hmm, so the only way to build a long lasting phone is to build it by discrete electronic elements (not SoC’s) and to write all the drivers by yourself?


In general, this is what Samsung does with it’s Exynos-Processor. But even they cannot set up hardware elements, that don’t exist at the time of the design.


There is a theory out that the Snapdragon 800/801 does not pass Google’s compatibility requirements due to too slow encryption speeds, not due to the missing Vulkan (the theory says that Vulkan is not required for Nougat).

If that is true, then Google had made a clear scandal: Google turned smartphones into e-waste because Google requires fast full-device encryption. I think users of these old devices can live without device encryption or with a (non-noticeable) slow-down of the device.

Well, there are rumours out that Android versions beyond Nougat will not run on devices without Vulkan at all because the Android system will make use of it. If that is true, then there is no chance for O on FP2 anymore.

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At IFA, Miquel from Fairphone annouced that there are no plans to unveil a new Fairphone every year. So the earliest date I can imagine of a FP3 announcement is March 2017 at MWC.

I actually thought not announcing a new model is good idea, however, due to lazyness/ignorance/other priorities at Google/Qualcomm, no Smartphones with the Snapdragon 801 chipset, will recieve Android 7.0 Nougat, the just released newest version of Android. To me this is a problem: I cannot imagine Fairphone selling a phone which software (officially) cannot be updated to the latest Android version in 2017. So something will probably happen.

My dream scenario is a incremental update of the FP2, like a FP2 plus: Keep the size, the case, the display and the battery, for compatibility and to help spare parts supply, but upgrade the camera and the processor: The Qualcomm 652[1] or 821[2] would be good candidates for the processor, the Sony IMX377[3] a good candidate for the camera sensor (it received a lot of praise for the good image quality in Nexus 6P and 5X phones).
The 821 is the current top notch chipset from Qualcomm, the 652 the current mid tier chipset. The 652 should still be faster then the 801 while using less power. But foremost, it supports AES hardware encryption, the new Vulcan graphics API and is a 64bit processor. (Missing Vulcan API or mediocre encryption performance are likely the reason Snapdragon 801 will not get Nougat).

What do you think of a Fairphone 2+/2S/2X?

1: https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/processors/652
3: http://www.sony.net/Products/SC-HP/IS/sensor2/products/imx377.html


Fairphone would be working on enhanced modules for the FP2 according this article : http://www.zdnet.com/article/smart-covers-new-cameras-where-the-worlds-most-ethical-smartphone-goes-next/


Hi was wondering if I should buy a FP2 or wait for FP3? But the idea is to upgrade FP3 components. Don’t get it! Too used to upgrades! Can I have a steer?

FP3 is not even announced yet, it will still take quite a while. If you need a phone now then you should order an FP2, but otherwise we can only encourage you to continue using your old phone until it stops working (and then have it recycled), which is even better for the world than buying new phones all the time.