Fairphone 3 -- Hardware and obsolecence discussion

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 So, as things are now, the Fairphone 2 is outdated and will not go officially (with Google’s consent) beyond Marshmallow.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.


Have been holding onto it for years now in that aspiration. I was just wondering if version 3 would be modules or an entirely new phone. I would prefer modules and it would seem then that fairphone are very serious about a future proof phone.


FP2 was a first step in modularity and upgrades will probably come (they are working on a camera upgrade already), but there is a limit. The core module with the motherboard will probably be the limit, as new chips won’t fit into the current design of the module.
So FP3 will come one day, but nobody knows when yet.
Maybe one day in the far future Fairphone will even design their own chips and make it possible to keep upgrading the same set of modules forever.


Which means, despite limitations: keep the basic core module design (measures, connectors…), integrate on future modules f.i. a new chip (etc.). This is basically what the Raspberry-Pi-People are doing, too.

As quite many people, I think that backward compatibility of FP3-modules to FP2 is THE most important feature - but you know that already.


Chips are getting smaller and smaller, with more functions integrated into a SoC. I think it should be well possible to put new chips in the same form factor. It’s not a very weird shape, the part of the PCB holding the chips in the core module is nearly square (apart from the back, where the storage, wifi and accelerometer chips are placed between the SIM slots, SD slot and some connectors, but those chips should not be getting larger.)


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3 posts were merged into an existing topic: From Ara modularity to Fairphone evolutivity

For FP3 just a new main module would be the logical move, right?

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