Fairphone 3 - Interview of Bas from FrAndroid

Hi all ,
I stumbled across this (french) article about the Fairphone 3 : link
I seems that FrAndroid was at a conference were Fairphone was a partner, about circular economy, and they asked Bas Van Habel a couple of questions about the FP3

For the non-french speaker, what is says :

  • The Fairphone 3 is in development, scheduled to come in late 2018
  • It going to be much more “low end” : equipped with a 400 series SoC from Qualcomm (and thus much more affordable…but less future proof IMHO)
  • The Fairphone 2 will most likely not have a motherboard upgrade (no soc upgrade), but Android 7 is still in discussion with Qualcomm (there is hope !)
  • The long awaited camera upgrade is still “a thing”, as it has been mentioned, but no more informations about it…

And then…what about an official word ? :slight_smile:



I agree. A low-end SoC should not be built into a Fairphone as this is not future-proof. And I don’t think that the SoC has big influence on the cost of the Fairphone.

Fairphone should 1. avoid proprietary parts completely as soon this is possible, 2. split CPU, RAM, modem (so they can upgraded separately) 3. make the CPU, RAM, modem replaceable


the CPU and modem are in the same chip, so, making a splitable chip is going to take much more place (and mean that FP will have to custom design it, making the price jump through the roof )
Same problem for ram, the RAM chip is directly above the Soc, and detaching it will mean the PCB will be much larger…and the phone is already sooo big ! :frowning:
(see the ifixit teardown to view how much space is a premium inside a phone !)
And yeah, for the SoC, a snapdragon 600 would have been perfect…but 400 series are just super laggy (for real, its awful)


We have seen the article in Frandroid and indeed, we are currently concepting a next phone, which we hope to launch next year. This is in line with our plans to grow the demand for fairer electronics and achieve this social mission through a market model.

In order to increase our influence and achieve more impact in the supply chain of electronics and to show that there is a market for fairer electronics, we obviously want to make the next phone even more attractive for a greater number of people.

How we intend to do this, ie. lower price, which platform, which countries, etc is part of concepting a new model and has not been decided yet, but we will surely inform our community as we know more.

To be able to continue to make impact and show there is a market, we are focusing on the production the Fairphone 2 and updating both the soft- and hardware, module by module. By buying it, you become part of the journey towards fairer electronics.

Lastly, in this concepting phase we do a lot of research to make sure that a new model is as appealing as possible to as may people. If you want to provide us with your input, please sign up to our newsletter where we will send out soon a survey to gather insights in the opinions and ideas of our community.


Separating CPU from RAM is technically undesirable. In order to maintain signal integrity at a level good enough for DRAM over longer distances and across (pogo?) connectors, you need to compromise on power consumption. There’s next to no budget for that on a smartphone.

  • The FP1 has a Mediatek chipset with a Quad-Core chip at 1.2 GHz.
  • The FP2 features a Snapdragon 801 with a Quad-Core chip at 2.26 GHz (Wikipedia)
  • The 400 series has Quad-Core and Octa-Core chips in the range from 1.2 to 1.7 GHz. (Wikipedia)

My FP1 First Edition still runs pretty smooth, and if a FP3 had an Octa-Core processor, that would improve multitasking and/or performance of background processes, am I right? What I’m trying to say is that most people don’t need a 2.26 GHz processor and that a slower processor would make fairness affordable for more people.


I agree with both previous opinions, that a 400 chip may be sufficient for many users, as well as that for others it has to little performance.

Since I use my FP as daily work horse I might belong to the second group.
Yet, I nonetheless think that mine should do it’s job until FP4 enters the market, which than hopefully is based again on a stronger platform.

In other words: given that FP aims at producing phones that should last 5 years, I could see myself liking the idea of an alternating biannual release cycle :slight_smile:


Number of cores and frequency isn’t all :frowning:

The 400 series uses cortex A53 cores, witch are really small cores (and thus much less instruction per cyce) than the Krait 400s cores (in our Snadragon 801).

CPU performances :
the A53 have 2.24 DMPIS/MHz (drysthone benchmark, raw performance) where the Krait 400 have 3.39DMPIS/Mhz
In therms of raw performances, the maximum output of 8A53@1.4Ghz (maximum freq according to Qualcomm datasheet) is 17% less than the output of the 4Kryo400@2.26 (25 DGIPS vs 30 DGIPS), and not a lot of apps can make use of 8 cores…

As the A53 core haven’t been design for “actual use”, but more for standby and background usage (they are supposed to be paired with bigger A57cores), they are not able to use out of order execution, witch is really important for responsiveness.
A53 cores are also very old (2012) and thus can lack instruction set and optimizations

GPU performances
The GPU in the 400 series , the Adreno 505, is much more younger, and thus compatible with DX12 and Vulkan, but is, in therms of raw power, 2 times less powerful than the Adreno 330 in the 801, which already lag and stutter is some games !

More or less unrelated, the 400 series processor are used on low budget phone that are rarely updated, so Qualcomm will be much less willing to provide libraries for newer version of android.
Everything just to say that yes, using a 400series processor isn’t going to be a pleasure (in two years, it “might” be okay for most usage, but if you try to keep it for 5 years…)

(my opinion)Two usage here, power user (like me), who get the most out of their phone, and thus are willing to pay premium for it, and light user…that will be much more on a budget as they don’t rely too much on their phone most of the time…
Main problem a see here is that the second group will be much less willing to pay more for an ethical phone…I mean, the performance/price ratio is a falling curve, and paying 100€ more for a phone because is ethical is easier when the phone cost 500€, than if it costed 200€

A brand new Snadragon 630 could be the perfect spot imo !
Like said freibadschwimmer i’m also in the second group, and thus i will wait for the FP4.

As you understood, i don’t really approve this processor choice, but FP will probably tell us why did i choose it when the phone will be announced :smiley:

My sources :
Comparison of Arm8 proc - Wiki
Krait CPU - wiki
Qualcomm Snapdragon Lineup - Qualcomm
Adreno 330 Benchmarks - Notebookcheck
Adreno 505 Benchmarks - Notebookcheck


Hey all, thank you very much for your contributions to this discussion. (Nice detailed explenation @Elipsus!)

I do want to stress that nothing is set in stone. Our new Fairphone will have to be appealing to a big usergroup to help us achieve our goals and make fairer electronics grow. But how we are going to do this, ie. lower price, which platform, which countries, etc is part of concepting a new model and has not been decided yet.


@Douwe Please note one more point: If next FP is also dual sim, in my opinion it’s very important to have a dual 3G phone because more and more providers are shutting down the 2G network. At least, if one simcard is connected to 4g, the second should be capable to make and receive phone calls over a 3G network (instead of 2G with FP2)!



The best Fairphone can do, IMO, is to take the opinions above and the survey @Douwe mentioned above into consideration.

There is (at least) a third group here: business users, who rely on their phone, but only need low CPU performance for emails and other communication. They are willing to pay more for a phone they can rely on 100% of the time.


Don’t forget to include a question like “How long do you think your current phone will last?”. If the newsletter subscribers are mainly FP2-owners who have phones that can still last a few years and not iPhone/dumbphone renegades, which - depending on the price - may be the target group, then the questionnaire may not be very representative in the end.

I’d like that idea too.


4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Can Fairphone build a reliable smartphone?

My biggest wish would be for (at least partial) compatibility with the FP2. If the FP3 is incompatible with its predecessors again, it would really undermine the claim of sustainability (and also the well-known need for bigger quantities of units sold).


My Fairphone is now 1 year, 4 months and 29 days old. Why should I care about a FP3? :grin:


Thanks for pointing this out, IPC and the likes are often forgotten. Some further considerations complicating the comparison:

  • DMIPS/MHz is only measured using the dhrystone benchmark, which does not contain floating point operations. This isn’t representative for today’s use.
  • These cores have lower sequential performance which affects most single-threaded apps. However, the OS will make sure that background tasks are scheduled over all cores, ideally reducing the performance variance of your foreground task due to fewer context switches.
  • … but this increased task parallelism puts more strain on the shared last-level cache and DRAM bus, diminishing performance.
  • AArch64 has nearly doubled the number of general purpose registers from 16 to 31. This results in fewer spills, reducing the size of applications while improving efficiency.

All things considered I think that only a wide range of benchmarks (simulating high-perf use-cases as well as regular use) can give a conclusive verdict about performance!


I am sure the decision about the specs of the FP3 will be one of the toughest the company
will go through soon. They are not Samsung or Apple who sell their stuff like sliced
bread. The FP3 will not be awaited, nobody will camp in front of the company
door in Amsterdam (idea for the launch: an offer for the first few to pick up
there would be really cool =) )
Fairphone still is unknown by so many. So they have to tell their story and
convince the customers to by one for the Fairphone idea.
We all can help make Fairphone more known by the society. Of course I want to have a cool,
nice looking, smooth usable, phone which is comparable with at least the
midrange phones on the market.
But remember folks, these guys producing ONE phone (to rule them all :smiling_imp:) They
promise to keep that alive with spare parts and software like no other is doing
for now.
I think this is worth it to own a Fairphone.

A colleague today showed me his new S8. Very nice, and to be honest, I am a little envious.
But do I NEED it? It is like having a fast car, nice to have, but you use the
speed mostly never. To make this situation more complex: My colleagues Iphone 7,
a company phone, was laying right beside his new personal one. That becomes
normal in our society. This is a situation to think about. Both phones will become obsolete in 2 years.

We all can tell what kind of phone we really need, and we all know whom to tell.


This is very attentive, indeed.

“Dual-Sim-Active” design of course not as FP2 and most others has dual-sim-standby, but such phones are not very common. I searched for some dual-sim-active in 2015 and mainly found some in the us market (or maybe india).
Anyway the design in FP2 convinced me to purchase one. Active or standby type was not my main focus on dual-sim. But 2 sim slots + one extra for the sd card!
Everything else was secondary.

Well you see, for dual-sim-active you need everything double. Two or dual transmitter(s), two antennas…let alone more power consumption as both sim cards are active/connected simultaniously which again would require an even stronger accumulator and propably more space too. The entire design would grow, so not easy to reduce FP3 in size considering modularity and so far not the slimest compact design compared to a premium Samsung or iPhone.

This would be quite challenging to achive by the FP engineers and expensive too.

I agree partially on this.
Splitting all these parts may bring more flexibility in modularity/upgradability but most sure increase the costs as such parts in this market are quite uncommon. These days even entire computer mainboards like the ones based on the “Power” technology are often SoC solution to reduce costs. So where to find dedicated ram, modem controller or cpu…system integration and higher density in the common way, with obvious drawbacks…
And yes, low-end SoC would surely not make FP3 more attractive I believe. Even our SD 801 cpu is outdated and its performance was critisised already by customers. If they got a bad user experience with FP2 what should convince them to give the FP3 a try even if maybe at lower prize?..Lesson learned they may think.
Detaching components also require a much more sophisticated pcb layout and also brings up more vulnerabilities for external influences and furthermore electro magnetic susceptability issues. Again no way of reducing costs.


I believe FP3 would be the biggest success if all HW issues known from FP2 will be ironed out and also feedback from customers would be taken into account. At last it´s the customers who will buy the product and not only FP employees. Maybe Sony can survive ignoring their customers, but FP…
Anyway quality assurance should move more into focus.

After all people are used to fresh hardware when purchasing a new phone. Offering a cheaper successor with aged hardware and maybe poor performance not assuring longevity may be a show stopper. FP2 is the level rod now. Anything better may sell well, not meeting this tech level could keep new and old customers off from buying FP3. Also there will be test comparisons vs. FP2 and other phones aswell again. Not climbing higher may turn out adversely.

Not to forget major development keeps going on while FP3 may be in development some day. When it is launched based on a specific OS and hardware the entire market development also went on. It should then not turn out as with Lollipop and SD801 being behind what´s actually expected by the market.


Well they don’t sell their product at their office in Amsterdam. :wink:

And I’m pretty sure the demand will again be very high. Maybe even - like with FP1 and FP2 - higher than the supply.

Actually that’s our job. :wink: The cost breakdown doesn’t exactly indicate a large budget for advertising.

There are concrete plans. :smiley:

In what regard would you say that the FP2 design ignored the customer feedback (check out the wishlist), or what about @Douwe’s post above makes you believe they will this time?


Not everybody’s feedback can be taken into account because then we would need two versions of FP3 (a cheaper, low-end and a more expensive high-end version). Since FP2 already is higher-end and aims at a 5-year lifetime (~), I agree with @freibadschwimmer: