Fairphone 3 - Interview of Bas from FrAndroid

I always wonder why old device drivers are not working with new versions of Android? From the windows world I know, that drivers either can be compatible with a new OS version - or not. E.g. from NT to 2K to XP I used several pieces of hardware, always with the same (old) drivers. And then, from XP to Vista lots of old drivers did not work anymore. And Vista drivers can work with Win8/Win10, but must not… Strange sometimes… (e.g. graphics adapters with nice Vista drivers, which don’t work with Win10, only Win10 basic driver support).

I think the hardware is not that important anymore nowadays. E.g. the computer I use right now is almost 10 years old, with a Core2Duo, 4GB Ram, integrated graphics… Only an upgrade from HDD to SDD happened in the meantime…

So, if Fairphone has good programmers and a SOC with good driver support, I think a smartphone can easily be maintained for at least 5 years. At least, if not another new broadcasting standard is introduced in the meantime (my old Motorola Moto G 2014 lacks LTE support).

New camera modules are always good :slight_smile:

Project Treble on Android Oreo is going a bit into the windows direction by specifying a hardware abstraction layer between Android OS and the Hardware Drivers that did not exist before.

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I think there is no viable (read: powerful) SoC with “good” driver support. :joy:


Hopefully, in a few years open source SoCs will be available!

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An Snapdragon 400 would be a great mistake. If you want to make an smartphone being able to be used more than two years you need to have a good processor so it will be able to run apps smoothly that will be launched in the future and probably will require better specs that just an Snapdragon 400 (and I am not meaning only games, but firefox, libreoffice, etc).

I’d say at least Fairphone should come with Snapdragon 660. Its enough powerful to be useful many years, and his energy efficiency its a plus for this pourpuse since will drain less the battery and will maintain the mobile cold, making the hardware to last longer.

I definetively would go for a good processor and try to make it cheaper not adding things like NFC or finger unlocking.

On the other hand, to being adapted to the future I think this would be necessary:

  • Future 5G bands support
  • Vulkan support
  • USB-C connector (the new standard)
  • 3 GB of RAM at least

Regarding hardware with open source drivers in an smartphone I think is interesting this post from Peter Morrison, a Fedora ingenier, recomending the Qualcomm 820c/600c SoCs because there’s an open driver and they provide options in their APQ line without built in radios, instead of the i.MX SoCs which are going to use in the Librem 5 project.


NXP has 10 or 15 years of full life cycle support - and if they supply millions of cars with these chips, the price might be reasonable. But still, the hardware is quite old and slow - probably not good enough for a modern cell phone?

What I would like to see is FairPhone available outside of Europe! Right now, even if you went to Europe and bought one, it wouldn’t work with the frequency bands in America.

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Ahh, so it does work with ATT. Still, wouldn’t trust them to keep that 3G for too many more years if T-Mo didn’t, and it’d kinda suck to pay for 4G and only get 3G (I don’t think there’s phone plans for 3G specifically) since phone plans are overpriced here anyway (I used to pay ~£3/mo with my PAYG in England and here prices start from $50!)

+1 for 5G and USB-C (USB 3.1)
I just saw some pictures taken with a Motorola 4G and they looked great. Could that phone be considered same/similar hardware level? These or better cameras would be a plus.


This is becoming a long thread and I don’t know if adding my voice will help or even be read…

There’s a lot of talk about ‘high end’ features and people wanting cheap. These two things are not compatible, and maybe its good to recognise this for FP3? Having two versions might be good - or perhaps people who want the latest development haven’t really bought into the sustainability thing?

Our household has 2 x FP1. One of each version - mine is the first generation bought second hand with a cracked screen, replaced the screen and diddled about with the storage to allow the upgrade of OS. My wife was early adopter bought new but has given it a hard (physical) life - replaced one screen and now cracked another. Trouble is the dimensions mean that I haven’t found a good ‘bumper’ case.

So they’re about 3 years old and I’m afraid nearing the end of their service life. Why? because we can’t replace the screen, my GPS has never worked and the OS means that a couple of useful apps won’t work on Android 4 - how long before upgrades make these phones dinosaurs?

So we were looking at FP2 but… physically too big for our pockets and hands - more like a ‘phablet’.

Make it physically tough - a phone that needs to last 5 years as part of a sustainability thing needs to survive 5 years!
Keep the spare parts ( at least screens and batteries) available for 5 years.
Keep it simple - I love the concept of total modularity, but surely its better to make something well than replaceable / disposable?
Temper the discussions about cutting edge hardware and software - most of us just need a phone that works and we know has had the least impact on the world’s resources and people.
Make a phone about the same size as FP1, but match the dimensions of a popular brand (maybe samsung or iphone) to allow ‘shared’ accessories / covers. Like waterproof or ‘bumpers’ to help look after the phone!
Accept that one gadget can’t do everything in your life perfectly - remember the days when we used to carry a diary, and a camera, and a notebook and a gps unit and a mobile phone?
If necessary build a small and large screened version - make them the same innards, but beef up the battery to power the big screen?
Keep 2 sim slots!
Accept the premium of ethical standards - life sucks, it costs more to care. But really, if you buy one phone every 5 years you’ll not notice the extra.
Try and make something that would (physically) last 10 years!

Here endeth the rant, sorry. I love FP as a concept and willing to support the next generation with my hard cash if I can.


I bet there’s different schools of “sustainability” to this claim. On the one hand there’s the people claiming that if you want to be truly sustainable, you need to aim for minimalism. Pulling that to extremes you might argue that a full smartphone wastes more resources than say a candybar shaped dumb-phone (not to mention the increased power consumption), so perhaps we should all live a bit more modestly. If people are willing to drastically restructure their diets to give up say animal products, giving up facebook and whatsapp on-the-go sounds to me like a relatively insignificant sacrifice.

On the other side (for those that question my objectivity,I’m not :wink: this is the side I’m on as well) there are a lot of people who feel sustainability does not have to come at the cost of functionality. This brings us to a different “trade-off” space where we aim for ethical production and longevity on the one hand, and finding a feature and performance point sufficient for the masses on the other hand. When navigating this design space we need to cleverly think about the “high-end” features that we discuss. Adding a high end SoC with fat cores and an even fatter GPU might make the phone more attractive for some gamers, but judging by the size of the market for OnePlus, Wileyfox and the likes this is not a deal-breaker for the majority of the people while burning through batteries and energy quicker. A high-end feature like 5G over a broad range of bands however makes the phone more feature-proof as there will inevitably be a point where provides choose to drop backward-compatibility with older standards. A low-end SoC from a cheaper manufacturer is less likely to obtain (security- or full Android) updates two years from launch when compared to the established mid-range SoCs, meaning again that the lifespan of the phone is increased by going more high-end. Not to mention it’s hard to judge what app requirements will be in three years, other than that we know they’ll be higher than they are now.

All things considered, as much as I sympathise with your call for realistic specs rather than aiming for the shiniest of shiny, we might still need to have a serious discussion about how high we really need to set the bar! :slight_smile:


Thanks for your critique - fair points. I think that much for the reasons you suggest a mid range spec might be a good idea rather than low end.

The range of desires within this thread suggest that there is a number of clear market segments here - if I’m not target market then I’ll take my hairshirt away with me :slight_smile: A key thing in my mind is based on the experience so far, there is one model at a time, not a range to suit every users needs (this isn’t Samsung) - so aiming the model to reach as many as possible seems sensible, rather than putting out of reach or interest of people in the early stages of its release cycle…

FP is not mainstream, and realistically can’t compete for people who don’t ‘buy-in’ to the ethos. For some sustainability means as you suggest that they would be talking face to face rather than use a gadget, but for many I suspect it is being able to make a choice to feel better about something that they might buy anyway.

By pushing that envelope of what will the future look like it does put FP into an even tighter niche - early adopters with high disposable income that want the best technology (I’m slightly exaggerating, so please don’t take that as a personal description!). But it does become a self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps like some fruit-based brands that push the envelope of what can be done and thereby stimulate demand…

If FP is about giving people a choice of fairly sourced components, perhaps having a model that is attainable (with a premium) for everyday use, would be a reasonable aspiration, and hopefully a good business model. I’m not opposed to a high end version, but I think that it is slightly at odds with ‘fair’ if that is the only option (I don’t know if it will be!).

I might be badly mistaken but I think that one of the reasons that technology is changing so rapidly, and therefore becomes obsolete, is because is it unsustainable - the resources used to feed the rate of change can’t be sustained indefinitely. So, in my opinion, FP can’t compete with that so would be good to step off the front edge of technology, go with long life components and put the challenge out to the software developers to design more efficient apps and keep things running for as long as possible. But that’s a whole other argument.

I have an equal lack of objectivity. I know there is a conundrum of ‘perfect solution’ - I want to see the trade-offs rather than aim low. The ideas I put forward would match my needs, and I accept that they might not be a priority for everyone.

Good to look for a solution by discussion! I hope we get something that is useful to lots of us.

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Since Spring 2017 we haven’t heard any news about the development and design of a fairphone 3. Is there any update, does fairphone have a roadmap with a date for its release ? I am curious to know, particularly since I own a FP1 which is now 4.5 years old, and might collapse in a few days or few months (who knows? ).
Thanks for answering this question.


As soon as there is an update I’m sure someone will post it here.


Well I am afraid that the silence of Fairphone for more than one year now on this topic is not a good sign.

2018 will bring some surprises :wink:

Nice to hear… but some communication from Fairphone would be nice too :wink:

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11 posts were split to a new topic: Fairphone 3 should be an Android One device