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Fairphone 3 - Interview of Bas from FrAndroid

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#24

I really don’t see the need for a FP3, the current hardware is delivering a nice performance and it’s able to reach Android 7. A even more modular design where module-upgrades are possible seems like a better idea to me. Screen size is good etc. and if cheap means lower-end I dislike that idea.


#25

I opened a thread some time ago arguing that one of the challenges FP needed to address was the price, and I got answers on the likes of “fairness cannot be cheap”.

Happy to see that Fairphone is indeed going in that direction. FP cannot (and shouldn’t) be a competitor of Apple or Samsung, should focus (in my opinion) on 3 main values: low price, reliability, openness. Of these, reliability is probably the most important: people who buy fairphones are not so interested on the latest gimmick or the bleeding edge technology, but want a phone which works.


#26

The current hardware is outdated, and for now, Android 7 is still close to an utopia :frowning:
The Fp3 is scheduled to launch in late 2018 at best, and selling the same old FP2 is going to be difficult in 2018 (because its platform is getting outdated).
FP3 its not meant to make you throw away your FP2, but its for the people who are buying a new phone :slight_smile:


#27

An unofficial Android 7 (Custom ROM/Open OS, without Google Apps) is surely possible. We hopefully know whether an official Android 7 (with pre-installed Google Apps) is possible when the talks between Fairphone and Qualcomm come to an end.

My opinion is that future Fairphones should be based on FP2’s modules and should be compatible with them. For example, the screen is already good enough and doesn’t need a successor.

Other modules need only a slight, not urgent, upgrade (like a better camera in the top module or USB-C in the bottom module).

I think that the battery cannot be improved in future Fairphones (based on FP2’s modules) unless a new and safe battery technology is on the market.

In my opinion, we only need an upgrade of the main and camera module in the near future.

A replacement of parts in modules is partly possible. For example, speakers, cameras and the vibration motor can be replaced separately. The replaceability of more parts would be good, but this should not enlarge the size or worsen the functionality of the phone.


#28

Specs-wise, I agree. On the quality I have more concerns, though. It had/have too many problems (which I hope they fix in the upcoming production).


#29

At the moment I see the highest threat in a perceived obsolescence of the FP2 in a possible future lack of security updates. At some point Google will stop issuing Android Security Bulletins for Marshmallow. At that point in time we will either need Android 7 or official development on another OS.

In my opinion FP2’s hardware in terms of performance is good enough and will be so even by the end of 2018. A better camera and a USB-C port are gimmicks but not essential for its function.


#30

Indeed. This also one of the reasons why I’m disappointed that FP did not come to terms with Sailfish.

Although, in the end having a maintained OS will not be enough. When the SoC provider stops support for the chipset, then all bugs in the their drivers & firmware will remain unpatched, no matter what OS you’re using.


#31

A Spanish review of the FrAndroid article:


#32

At least this is true for me. And I am willling to pay a higher price if the product is of good quality.


#33

It is old news, but some competitors are presenting their new/current smartphone devices with a Snapdragon 625 introduced by Qualcomm in Feb '16:

Maybe Fairphone like to review their own plans and consider developing/building their next phone with that chip. It could be a promising deal: Good performance meets extended battery life.


#34

I am not a real techie, but some ideas: it seems that the processor includes all function, and you can not dissociate RAM, Processor, etc. So if we want a real modular phone, why not making the processor changeable? So that you can choose which one you want when you buy it, or change it later on. Or make the whole motherboard changeable. ??


#35

That’s where the technical stuff comes in: Android is built specifically for each SoC + extra features, so changing SoC or adding a new module (ej. NFC) will need a ROM update. Every combination of SoC + features will need a new specific ROM.

In fact, FP2’s modularity is probably the best we can get with Android, and I guess with every other mobile OS right now.


#36

There’s a bigger problem with swapping SoCs: their pin-out. Where in desktop PCs there are several generations of processors using the same socket (eg. Intel LGA 1151, AMD AM4), SoCs can’t do this. The smaller die area means there’s only a limited number of pins available on SoCs, making it:

  • harder to reserve some for future use, because there are none to reserve.
  • harder to reserve pins for specific features across generations of SoCs, because routing overhead on the chip itself as a result of moving IP around can prove prohibitive in terms of timing and power-consumption.

As for the software side of things: few people appreciate the hard work of the Linaro organisation to try and solve this. Qualcomm actually has decent support for most of their hardware upstream (with help from Red Hat), which means that a single Linux kernel can serve multiple SoCs without limitations. Google is playing its part in trying to make the open source software stack play nice with Android. Unfortunately, the big missing piece of the puzzle is an upstream device driver for the “GSM”-modem. For security and competition reasons I suspect Qualcomm is not keen on releasing an open source variant of it. But if they provide a closed-source baseband driver for an upstream kernel, there’s no software limitations that prevent swapping out only the SoC.


Kernel hackers: upstream kernel for FP2 OpenOS?
#37

That’s the most important thing that we learned from FP1: Following models will need much longer upgrade support. And honestly, I expect or maybe even demand not only Android 7, but later Androids as well for FP2. It’s still the new model, so it’s not even an option that there will be no more upgrades already. I took that for granted so much that I haven’t even thought about it.


#38

There are obscure and overcomplex market laws and practices to beat, and technical problems. Take a look at the thread about Android 7 to understand how Android upgrades are developed, and dependencies and forces that exist in the process.

For now, Android 6 is being shipped to the FP2 and monthly security updates are granted. This is awesome, nonetheless, comparing with other vendors.

P.S.: we should stop talking (in this topic) about FP2’s future and return back to the FP3 discussion, :wink:


#39

Thank you all for your very insightful contributions. I guess it makes more than clear how difficult it is to fulfill everyone wishes when you only can make one phone.

I see that for some

  • the specs of the FP2 are already too high, and more then enough
  • the FP2 is perfect, so there is no need for a new phone.
  • the FP2 is outdated, but some new modules will do.
  • the FP2 was always outdated and a new phone needs to come as soon as possible.

And then the expectations for the new phone are also very dfferent:

  • It can be cheap and with lower specs
  • It can be whatever, as long as it is reliable
  • It has to be working with the modules of the FP2
  • It needs a whole new design that is so modular that you can exchange all the components

And then there is the (very correct) argument of @Roboe:

Add to that mix that we hope to (finally) expand outside of EU and then you can add cultural differences to this complex puzzle.

Also: many of you talk from experience, but ideally current FP owners stick with their FP1 or FP2 as long as possible. The new Fairphone should draw in new people to grow the movement: get people who have a broken phone from another brand to switch to Fairphone.

All these thousands of peoples, from different countries, with different backgrounds, with different purchasing power… And one phone to that has to sell to grow the movement for fair electronics…

Please prapare yourself that the next Fairphone will not be able to meet all these wishes and will, to some of you, not be the perfect phone you hoped for.

But it will still be a darn good phone that promotes ethical values in electronics!


FP1 becomes veeery slow, loses connection etc
#40

I have two ideas - and a New business model: I think that there is really a need for a split in two different branches - if you See a market for a cheaper Smartphone: one for beginners not interested in technology and OS - a phone just working in private daily life. And the other model a high-end FP. So lets call it a FP basic (light, easy) and a FP 4 (pro,full). Both have to have a very good camera, sustainibility and Moduls. I am using my fp2 for work too, so if there is the End oft the lifetime of the OS i have to switch. Theres no Option. I think that user of the FP basic could be convinced of a New OS so thats a good Option when intruducing a New phone to adapt a New OS too.
As i mentioned above - if the end of the Hardware and Software circle is reached i have to go for another phone - fp4 vor whatever. But i would give my fp2 to my parents or kids. And thats where a New business model for fairphone could appear - start with a lifecycle program. Just manufacture one highend model and whenever a New product comes to market Start an Initiative so that pro-users can send in there phone, they will get a discount on the New one and you can refurbish the old Smartphones (change moduls) and sell them again. That would broaden the community and make a more sustainable circle of FP.
And last but not least: make vidoes about Wirkung conditions in the factories show people wäre the Materials come from because that is the Main asset - fair and sustainable - otherwise it is just another Smartphone.


#41

My 2 cents…I own a FP2, and would love to see FP3, build from modules that work with FP2.
Maybe build a cheaper FP3 with weaker processor, but better camera module and the same screen. At this point one could buy replacement modules for his broken Fairphone and build it as he wants.
What I really don’t want to see is brand new FP3, with modules that would not work with FP2.

Cheers


#42

Although I can philosophically agree with you, there is a rather practical issue. Fairphone estimates that the cost of all materials in the Fairphone 2 is approximately €230.30. The screen with a retail price of €85 would probably amount to about €50 of these materials. That’s over 20%. If the current modules are used for the next phone, it would be impossible to scale down the size of the screen. Not only does that make the phone say €20 more expensive than a hypothetical 4" 720p model (well… estimate), but it also adds minimum requirements on the GPU making it more difficult to pick a cheaper SoC. In other words, FP’d be pricing the lower end phone out of the market for a relatively niche feature of module interchangeability. That while the only module where it might really matter is the camera (which coincidently is the only module that doesn’t restrict the width of the phone!). :slight_smile:


#43

Speaking of reaching a wider audience: have you tried reaching out to universities? I work at one right now, was offered a company phone, but the Fairphone was not one of the available options. When I suggested it everyone agreed it should be (some of the IT guys even had bought one themselves), and I’m sure that among researchers, in an environment where every other piece of research has to pass an ethical committee, there is wide support for fairer electronics.

No idea if they would fall under the high-end or low-end users though; if anything it’s probably more the third “business users who demand reliability” category that was mentioned.

Also, I bet many universities would love the good PR they could get out of saying they now offer ethical phones to their eimployees.

(I bought one on my own and argued for a better laptop instead, but I digress)