I do not own a fairphone, but my current phone, an S5 mini on cyanogenmod, is giving me more and more trouble. I always intended to use my phone for much longer, but with the current performance not even being enough to support my keyboard app (SwiftKey) consistently, I’m starting to look for alternatives.
I don’t use my phone for gaming or anything, but I do expect a smooth experience for navigating the web, etc. and I certainly like the availability of almost all apps out there via the play store. I know that more low-end hardware could be used with a different OS, but just try to make e.g. your bank’s closed-source app for secure payments work with that and you see that there are certain drawbacks (in fact, in my case it doesn’t even allow rooted devices).
So I was quite saddened when I heard that FP is thinking of using a low-end SoC for the FP3, maybe in a release schedule alternating between low-end and high-end devices, because I very much doubt that my current phone will last until FP4 (whenever that may be).
This also means that FP has no offer for any customer looking for a mid- to high-end device for at least two years. I thought hard about getting an FP2, but while I’m completely fine with all peripheries, I don’t see the core module and battery as a good choice until 2022 - which is the lifetime I’d want when buying a new phone.
In my opinion, the best way right now would be transparency in communication. FP should state what their roadmap is, as well as which parts of it are safe and which parts aren’t. That way, potential customers, like me, would have at least [I]something[/I] to base their decision on. With other brands, it’s clear that they release a new phone every year, and while I’m glad that FP doesn’t, I’d still like to know what I’m supposed to expect. It would also fit well with the general strategy of transparency.
Judging by the previous posts, it seems like the community is split on whether a cheap phone with low-end hardware or a high-end phone with corresponding prices is to be supported.
With similar overall goals, there’s already Shift phones for the low end market, while there’s only the FP2 in the (former) high end segment. Everybody looking for an ethically produced phone with a lower price tag already has at least one option.
So if it has to be one model only, I’d say it should most definitely be mid- or high-end hardware. Everything about better longevity of such hardware has already been said.
However, with the modular design and the OS sitting on the same module as the CPU and RAM, offering two SoCs sounds like the natural solution to me. Of course, maintaining support for both is pretty much double the cost, too…
I am actually against the restriction of making it compatible with FP2, because that was the first ever attempt at a modular smart phone. There were surely many lessons learned, and it should be allowed to apply those to the FP3. Cross-Generation compatibility might make for a good long-term goal though.
But I want to stress again that I think the most important part is that potential users have enough information to plan when or when not to buy a phone. Even if it is “We don’t know. Probably 2019, but we really don’t know yet.”