Fairphone 3 -- Hardware and obsolecence discussion

In my opinion, future Fairphones should have 3G/LTE on BOTH sim slots.
Because more and more the phone calls will use 3G and 4G and in Switzerland it’s planned to deactivate 2G/GSM in 2020.


This is the only reason for having two mobile data-connections at one time.
But with the modems available on the market today, there is only one data connection possible at a time. You’ll have to have two modems for two connections.

I don’t think 2G will be disabled soon. They tell you, but I read just some weeks ago, that that wouldn’t work with any of the current phones, because they always first log into 2G and when they don’t find 2G, they think there is no net.

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Hmm, if you want to do calls over 3G on one sim and use data-connection on the other sim,
you’ll need two modems supporting 3G/4G.
If you want to build a long-lasting phone, this is important in my opinion.
As I know, there are phones you can buy today supporting 3G on two sims at the same time.

You’ll also find networks without 2G:


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Sure, but you don’t necessarily need a SoC with an embedded modem. Fairphone could opt for other chips that do not have a modem, but are more friendly to free software (Allwinner, Rockchip, OMAP, …). The modem can be added as a separate chip.
Sure this will add some extra costs but it will be negligible considering Fairphone’s price range. This also comes with the advantage of physical isolation between main CPU and modem, allowing a better privacy control in case one needs to run a proprietary firmware on the modem chip.

Choosing the right hardware to avoid binary blobs not only comes with privacy advantages for your users, but also goes hand in hand with the longevity goal.
To this day I can still run the latest Linux kernel on really old hardware because I chose parts compatible with free software drivers. Had I opted for a different motherboard/sound card/etc. it would now be a piece of junk. No one except the manufacturer is able to maintain a binary blob, and they won’t maintain it for more than 6-12 months. On the other hand, with a free software driver, anyone can step in and port it to a new OS version.
Being able to run up-to-date software does not only mean you get the latest features, it also means you get the latest security patches. Sure Google still releases security patches for Android 5.1, but that won’t last forever. If you expect your Fairphone 2 to last 5 years then get used to the idea that it won’t get security patches long before that date.

All in all, Fairphone should not only strive to be fair in terms of production chain but also fair for its end users. Getting rid of binary blobs will go a long way in addressing this.


This not what the modern consumer wants (or at least FP has decided it this way). If you use the search function you will find lots of discussion threads about this. Mostly only from users, by the way. I guess using the all-in-one chips is the only way to develop a device quickly.

Hardware: I had a longer look at raccoon last night and the person that wrote it also had a longer post about the FP2 in his blog. He states:

Yes, I know that Android phones don’t have swappable internal storage because this would break all of the DRM and branding bullshit. But guess what? That makes me want it even more!

I think he got a point there.


While I fully agreee with you in terms of Replicant (it’s a good thing!) and no binary blobs, I have to disagree about the Cyanogenmod vs. “Google infested Android” argument. Cyanogenmod does not remove non-free parts, instead it even adds more proprietary parts! If you compile FP-OSOS (pure AOSP without Google Apps) you get no proprietary parts except the driver blobs (if you compile them in). On the other hand, if you compile CM, you get a bunch of extra proprietary parts and things you certainly don’t want, like the CM-stats thing which is “opt-out” and first sends out stats and then asks you afterwards if you want to have this in the future as well. :frowning:

I could not agree more! This even fits Fairphone’s philosophy of being modular very well! Just imagine 5G becomes available => you don’t need to throw your old device away, you just need to exchange the modem board!

Full ack!


SailfishOS is coming to Fairphone soon.

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SailfishOS does not change anything about the binary blob issue.

Who knows whether fairphone will develop a new phone at all in the near future? I do see much effort put into the design of FP2 and I not see a reason why not to stick to that design. There is always the option of creating a FP2.1 but I honestly don’t think we’ll see a very different phone in the near future.

With its modular design it is guaranteed that hardware updates can be done and maybe the FP2.1 which is sold in 2019 will be almost the same as today but with twice the ram, twice the CPU, twice the battery capacity, twice the camera MP and twice the screen resolution.

(I would very much like that idea)


True, didn’t think about it.

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I realize this question is quite old, but since I’m just catching up on this thread and there was some news on this front just a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d answer nonetheless.

The German environmental agency, Umweltbundesamt, commissioned a study on obsolescence a couple of years ago, the results of which were just published recently, including a section on smartphones, and can be found here. I found the statistics on so-called “psychological obsolescence” particularly interesting with regard to why people stop using their still-functioning devices.

I’d like to add immediately that the results/methodology of the study are somewhat controversial, more information on that can be found here. …while in turn the author of those criticisms, as well as his book on planned obsolescence, is also somewhat controversial (I don’t immediately have a source at hand, but have heard and read quite a few controversial discussions on his work over the last couple of years.), so it should all be taken with a grain of salt and some “gesunder Menschenverstand/common sense”.


Thanks for pointing this out! I’ve read thsi part of the study and also the mentioned website, but they don’t really give “good enough” answers to the above questions and only cite another study (Stiftung Warentest 2013). While the question and separation was good (3 years, reflecting upon current device), the available answers are rather insufficient.

@moderators Maybe one of you could split the discussion about people exchanging their devices from the rest of the hardware discussion about the Fairphone 3? I think both things are relevant, but are pretty different and thus need separate threads.

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I don’t think that will be true because the FP1, for example, was one of the first phones, which got a Stagefright fix. So Fairphone has proven to be committed to security patches and has delivered them very fast.

For FP2 this will even be less problematic because the OS is open source. So in conclusion I think that FP2 won’t be obsolete in 5 years because of the lack of security patches. At the moment I see only one possible reason for the FP2 to become obsolete, namely if Fairphone failes to provide replacement batteries.


I would say: The infrastructure for being great in this area is around, but currently it’s not beging used … 100%.

I don’t agree. The OS is as open source as it was in the FP1, and the drivers are still as closed source as they were in FP1, except that they are provided now by a different vendor. To make an OS update, you need to have updated drivers as well — and this was the failure for the FP1.

However, although the vendor does offer drivers for Android 6, the FP-team was still not able to deliver an update. And the upstream vendor (=Google) will stop supporting older platforms with security updates as the did for any Android versions older than 4.4 a few months ago. And as we’ve seen, the FP team was not able to fix many of the security-relevant bugs in the (open sourced) parts of Android like in Webview to which the FP1 is still vulnerable.

Therefore, one can conclude that the FP2 will become obsolete (security-wise) once one of the upstream suppliers (Google or Qualcomm) will stop support. At least so far I didn’t have the impression that the FP team was able to develop these security patches themselves without relying on third parties.


The biggest problem for FP2 long-time support are the bin blobs (all hardware and Qualcomm). And they are not just “bin blobs” (“firmware” that gets uploaded into hardware). There are apps (= .apk, 33 programs) and stuff under /bin/ (124 little programs + 471 (???) libs ). If they don’t work with the latest Android and Qualcomm is not updating their code, there is a problem. But I don’t see an issue with that right now. Android 6 for the SD801 is supported by Qualcomm (see Sony). I assume the rest of the FP2 hardware (camera, gps) will be supported as well.


I return to the idea of Fairphone 3.
Some think this is contrary to the ethic to propose a new model every 18 months.
But it would be very original and especially very ecological to propose Fairphone 3 for a discount if we send our old model.
They could recycle Fairphone 2, repackage or use of the elements for the construction of Fairphone 3.
It’s an idea do not you think?
For example: 500 € the Fairphone 3 for new users, but half price if you return your old model.
See ya

No! :wink: Recycling and reusing FP2’s materials for a FP3 also consumes energy, and is thus not ecological. It’s more ecological, if you instead continue using your FP2 because then there is no energy effort for a newly produced phone.


Reusing is better than recycling. So Fairphone should sell used FP2s and modules sent back to Fairphone. I think there is a demand for them for many years. There are buyers now even for the iPhone 4 which is nearly 6 years old. Recycling would make sense if the phones/the parts are broken or if there is no demand for them anymore.


And preventing is even better. Not making your FP2 “waste” by sending it back will always be the most environmentally friendly option.