Fairphone 3 -- Hardware and obsolecence discussion

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I think the FP2 is pretty much IP protected … but they don’t talk about/don’t answer (Yes, I have asked that question). So it’s pretty hard to answer. I don’t think users will be able to improve the design or play around with it. We will just be able to buy it … or not. At least for now, I don’t know what the company is up to.

And RISC is a completely different instruction set and Android (or any other OS) would have to be ported to it first. AFAIK Android is only available for x86 and ARM (and x86 only half since some apps don’t run on it).

Upps. There is Android-x86 :wink: And aren’t RISC and ARM related? I have to read this up again … And it would be nice if someone could explain all the IP craziness in this field.

Today’s world is amd64, armv7, and soon aarch64. Everything else is dead, Jim.” (Miod Vallat)

The x86 is probably amd64 (which is the 64bit x86 instruction set).

Wikipedia says about ARM:

ARM, originally Acorn RISC Machine, is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors.

So maybe this lowRISC is compatible (not necessarily though). That both lowRISC and ARM are RISC instruction sets does not mean that they are the same or compatible.

Yep, I was hoping that by following the FP project I would also learn how all this works (ARM + X = SoC). And the code for X is bought and is often not released, so Android is often a mix of the unreleased code that interfaces with the “X” in the chip. I wish I could learn a bit more about this, because this is, what makes upgrading the code harder. I think. Else just hiring more programmers would work, I assume.

Unfortunately, it’s again one of these “FP and transparency” issues. But maybe if someone would ask, they would be willing to license it. Of course I understand that they don’t open it since they invested a lot of development effort into it, but at least they could say what is open and what is not.

No they are not the same, but lowRISC can run linux and therefore also probably Android, but as I said - this is all far from being mature. There are other more open platforms (than QC) which already run Android, but I don’t have an overview about that. I am just asking FP to put higher emphasis on evaluating these options for FP2.x / FP3.

I agree. I guess this time going “modular” was the main focus, so they took the rest “from the shelve” … But there is not enough info to really understand the decision-making process. I assume the CEO just decided :smile:

Well, the modularity is a big pro-argument for the fairphone. If you look at various open hardware projects like the Goldelico/Openmoko they had quite a hard time with designing the hole hardware. Thanks to FP, such efforts could just focus on the logic board and use the rest from FP - provided the design is not IP or they would give away licenses.

Edit: I watched the webinar now, and Miguel said that the design is all their IP. So I guess this point is clear now.

Nope, they never explained what they want to do with the “IP”. Or?

They never explained how the whole phone business works and how they want to change it. OEM, ODM, OBM … I’m also missing someone that explains all this for the FP project …

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Hi guys !

I don’t know if we can call it hardware (it’s hard though) but a saw an interesting replacement for plastic, which could be nice for the next Fairphone : Fungus.
It’s on a french website but the video is in dutch and english (with english subtitles when needed) : http://www.courrierinternational.com/video/recherche-le-futur-du-plastique-est-un-champignon

What do you guys think ?

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Unfortunately it says “Content unavailable. Please check back later.”… :frowning: (I’m trying to watch this from Austria.)

I have to defend the CEO Bas van Abel. I’ve met Bas on two occasions (one in A’dam and one in Vienna) and would vouch that he does not “just decide”. I know him as a person, who has a feeling for assigning tasks to employees based on their talents (imagine, there is a trained urban planner, who works at FP’s law department now!), and I do not think that Bas would let all this expert’s knowledge in “his” enterprise unheard.


Maybe this one then : http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-fungus-that-could-replace-plastic

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@kuleszdl I can only talk for myself, but I bought a fairphone because my previous one

  1. didn’t receive any software update anymore (stuck on Android 2.3)
  2. got hard to install new apps due to lack of internal memory

I will use that phone now with Cyanogenmod and see what it gives.

I agree. It seems to me that we are entering a ‘good enough’ phase with smartphone hardware, like started years back on desktop and laptop systems. It’s the phase where the CPU is not the main bottleneck anymore for running your software (nowadays, upgrading to SSD is the best bet to keep your PC. Just had the experience with a friend where we did this for a mid-2010 iMac. It made a HUGE difference for him).

It seems to me that the CPU on smartphones is good enough for most people … if you can get rid of the bloatware of the big shots.

Therefore, I’m a bit surprised by how many people even on this forum are stressing that a snapdragon 801 is not good enough anymore. My FP2 feels snappy enough to me. Where is then the need to have a 810 or higher SoC ?

There are other things which would outdate a FP2. USB3, higher resolution camera’s (although that is starting to slow down as well), bigger screens (also a trend I feel that is slowly slowing down), NFC.

Other things will also come in the future: more efficient screen technology (the biggest power drainer), binocular camera’s (allowing 3D phone calls and kinect-like motion detection), …

The modular design of FP2 will make some of these things possible without having to buy a completely new phone (e.g. USB3 connectors but without the speed increase) and other would warrant a new case (binocular camera’s e.g.) and thus a completely new phone.

Fairphone as a company will need to follow these trends. It would be a huge win if they could keep the current modular design for a couple of iterations. That way, even users of FP2 could upgrade piece-meal to a FP3 or higher by swapping out the relevant modules. That alone would be a trend breaker in this industry and a huge win for everyone currently owning a FP2.


I think that the development of smartphones should now focus on stronger batteries. Because I think that is the most important wish of the users. You often see smartphones connected to a charger. Fairphone 2 is here in a good position as the battery is replaceable.

Future Fairphones should use modules which are compatible with the Fairphone 2 modules. So future Fairphones may are just Fairphone 2s with upgraded modules (better camera, more RAM, USB-C connector, NFC, …). Fairphone then can supply the same spare parts for many Fairphone generations. You can even upgrade your Fairphone 2. And Fairphone can take back the “old” parts and build some “cheap Fairphones” from them.

Screen size: I don’t think bigger screen sizes are useful. Bigger screens result in bigger smartphones. This is contrary to the idea that a smartphone should fit in a pocket. I also think that most smartphone owners have a device with bigger screen (like a tablet, laptop, PC). But I like the idea to connect the smartphone to a bigger screen.

Support by the component manufacturers: I think that this could be the factor why the Fairphone 2 would outdate. If the component manufacturers are not developing drivers for newer OSs, Fairphone can’t supply upgrades to Fairphone OS anymore which would render the Fairphone 2 unusable some years later as seen on the Fairphone 1. So Fairphone should switch to open hardware or at least hardware with open source drivers.

Hardware requirements: I don’t know how hardware requirements on smartphones will increase over the next years. So I cannot say how long the Fairphone 2 stays usable with the current configuration. But Fairphone can design future Fairphones with exchangeable CPU, RAM, flash memory, WiFi and mobile radio modules like a PC.


My Fairphone 1 still works like on the first day (it is 2 years old now). So it is everything else than unusable. I’m quite satisfied with Android 4.2.2 at the moment and there is not one app until now, I have not been able to use.

In my opinion it is most important for the next iterations of Fairphones that the company finally achieves to use conflict free tungsten and gold in their products and can pay a living wage to the workers in the supply chain. Everything else is secondary in my point of view.


The aftermarket for (libre) alternative phone OSs would also appreciate this step, since it gives the users the opportunity to have a completely transparent phone.

In my particular interest is replicant (see also http://www.replicant.us/).


I wouldn’t want to start a discussion about this, so just in short:

It’s been known for years, that it is possible to produce some sorts of plastic via manipulating bacteria into producing it. Icronically enough, oil is still to cheap. so not many people or companies are interested to spent money in the development. It is going on, but much too slow (and personally I’m convinced, that with proper funding the research would be at a point of industrial application in years, being much much cheaper in the long term than anything based on oil).

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I have not purchased the FP2 yet but may do so as soon as at least Cyanogenmod is available for it. However, while CM is an improvement over a Google infested android, it is still not free software. I would thus really appreciate seeing the FP3 being able to run Replicant, which is afaik the only FSF approved mobile operating system. No binary blobs please for FP3!

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We had this discussion her a few times, just have a look around.

Sady, how the commercial SoC ecosystem works (there is not a lot known about it) a current (=attracts a lot of “normal” Android/Apple users) phone SoC (modem+cpu) without patents and tons of bin blobs is hard to find and technically nearly impossible. Also (this it what I guess, not know) the phone development process is strongly tied to the SoC manufacturer … you are not able to build a phone … the ODM and the SoC manufacturer build a phone for you. You just decide how it looks, more or less (just a guess of mine).

I don’t have any hopes for “libre” phones in the near future. Especially because phones becoming more and more data collecting and payment systems. They want the user out, not in and most “new” phone technologies are heavily patented as well.

A way out? Maybe a Chinese SoC phone clone that is not following the official patent/businesses rules. But you will not be able to develop or sell such a phone “in the west” and also here you will not really know what’s inside.