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Fairphone 3 more memory - make it last until 2025

I would like to buy a Fairphone 3 (+) now, but… over 2 years, memory will be insufficient.
Why?
I bought my Fairphone 2 less than 2 years ago. The hardware works fine, but with each update apps consume more memory - too much for my Fairphone 2 now. It is really slow and I had to uninstall several usefull apps. I feel uncomfortable throwing away a only 2 year old phone, but if even starting up the telefone app when getting an incoming call takes more time than callers are willing to wait I have no choice.
Can you produce a phone identically with Fairphone 3, so compatible with spare parts, software etc, but double memory? So it will be still usable in 2025?
I would buy it immediately!

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Installed apps will use ram memory but if they are not running the will not slow down the phone.I have ten year old phones than work fine as there is no extra app running in the background…

So it seems that you may have apps running continuously that are effecting the soc (system on a chip)

Do you have data on how much memory you have installed, how much you are using and what the current demand is as it seems disconcerting to hear your problems with a two year old phone.

Did you buy it new from Fairphone less than two years ago?

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Did you clear the cache data? This helped a friend a lot.

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It is a standard Fairphone 2 as delivered until 2019 with 2GB RAM and 32GB internal memory.
I (and 2 friends, too) experience a non responsive device. Starting an app can take minutes, the same for changing between apps. Even clicking on the hardware OFF-button can take up to 60 seconds to actually turn the screen off. Deinstalling apps that work in the background (such as Signal, Threema and as a test even the Corona app) worked a bit: the device is still slow now but usable.
I cannot exactly put my finger on what ressource is scare: I installed a Monitor App and it typically tells me 70-80% memory usage and on peak moments all processor cores 100%, but in average much less.

I did - thank you for asking. I regularly clean up unnecessary files to leave at least 2-4GB of the 32GB internal RAM free. If I don’t, nothing works anymore.

For additional physical storage, you can insert an SDcard.

What is the RAM Memory usage in Settings / Memory? Clicking on the detail gives you info about which app uses how much.

Here are some other steps that could help:

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Hi Dirk,

let’s not mix up RAM and storage here, the RAM is consumed by running apps, storage by installed apps and data of all kinds.

I read you are running out of storage (the 32GB), right?
Hey here is to watch your storage a bit, e.g. Music Podcasts Images etc.

Not sure, I have never hat an issue with storage, though my Podcasts take a lot of space. You need to find out what consumes most data, I guess having a good look into your files would be necessary.

Maybe anyone in the forum can recommend an app here? I’m using a file manager (Total Commander), but it’s a bit tedious to find large folders with it.

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Hi @dirk2

To emphasise what @swhcz said

You only have 2GB RAM so clearing apps/ images/ data etc from the 32GB memory does nothing to help the function of the phone only the ability to store inactive information.

With 2GB RAM it is critical to ensure you have minimal apps running in the background as what may happen is that for an app to work if there is not enough RAM it will create a temporary allocation on the 32 memory and not only as you have found making space there helps, it because the CPU (SOC) operation to access the 32Gb and then retrivve any working data takes time and the CPU is having to find the working programme info and continuously update it ~ this will slow things down considerably.

If you want to experiment, a) remove all your personal data to an SD card that is formatted as external then b) if you can handle it trauma reset the phone to factory settings and start again as though it’s a new phone.

If it is still slow it may be a problem with the phone and if it’s less than two years old as you indicated then get in touch with official support.

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I appreciate a lot your answers how to tidy up my Fairphone 2 so I can stay using it longer.

This was not my question - I suggested the Fairphone folks to increase memory in Fairphone 3 to ensure that people buying it today will still be able to use it in 2025 and later.

But yes, I like to give it a try, and for those coming here by an internet search having the same problem I will tell what I know and already did:

I have a big enough sd-card, so storage is not an issue. Also, the Fairphone is not defect, and everybody having a Fairphone 2 has that problem, so claiming warranty is pointless. The problem is it only has 2GB of RAM. If I understand the system monitor correctly, there are 3 situations when the device is freezing (=let me wait between 10 and 120 seconds until it shows any reaction to input):

1 Swapping Memory (most often)

Of the 2GB RAM the Fairphone 2 has, almost 1GB is used by the Android system and the apps I use need more than 1GB together. Luckily, the Kernel uses a paging algorithm that stores memory pages on a virtual, compressed part of RAM (by default not the internal memory, but you could enable that manually).

In my case, as soon as apps need more than ±500MB and more than ±75% of RAM is used, the swap process will free memory blocks of apps by compressing them. As soon as they will be needed later, the same process will uncompress them and because memory is low has to compress other memory immediately. This is not done in hardware but the very reason the processor is very busy and the user has to wait until swapping is ready and the memory page available.

2. Memory completely full

In case the swapper does not find any swappable memory page anymore, Android will kill the least needed processes automatically (but the choice is disputable, it has a strong preference to kill my favorite podcast app :frowning: )

3. Processor consuming processes

Of course, background processes like mail, messenger, social media or Corona app also could let the processor work so hard that the device becomes less responsive. But in my own experience (system monitor), this occurs much less often than memory swapping; Fairphone 2 has a pretty good 4-core processor for a 6 year old smartphone.

Since swapping already begins when 75% RAM is used, this explains why the Fairphone 2 is slow even under the 100% usage.

The problem grows with each update of Android and Apps: Before my Fairphone I had a smartphone with only 256MB RAM, and there came a time all Android processes already needed more than that… It became unusable. This is the unavoidable future of Fairphone 2 and the reason why I suggest more RAM for Fairphone 3…

For now, I will examine 3 solutions (other than buying a new phone)

  1. delete even more Apps

  2. install swapping to internal memory

  3. replacing Google Android by /e/ which does not force me to have apps installed I do not use like Google Maps and consumes less resources for spying on me (which I appreciate also for other reasons)

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Thanks for the detail I can see now how much work you have done to assess this :+1:

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You might be right with your usage profile and the effects - and even that in your case more RAM would be helpful and needed. So your request in the topic sounds legitimate to me.
But I still can’t confirm that everybody having a FP2 has that problem.
I’m using a 5 years old FP2 and it never takes 60 seconds to turn the screen off and it never takes minutes (not even one minute) to start any of the apps I’m using.

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My wifes FP2 starts Apps in seconds. Her Android system (latest fairOS) consumes 25% of the RAM.

I agree on the point that there should be possibilities to upgrade hardware, like the motherboard, to consume less ressources once the phone is too slow for the software. But that’s not always the reason for a slow phone.

And generally speaking: everyone is not everyone.

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Good to hear from you and from Volker that it is possible to still use Fairphone 2 when selecting apps carefully. Heard the same from another Fairphone 2 user by private message. I will try finding which app consumes too much memory to remove that.
And to emphasis this: I am happy with Fairphone, this is why I will buy a Fairphone 3 when my old one will stop working. Getting problems with 2GB RAM is not specific for Fairphone but all older smartphones, and there will not be many phones out there having Android 7.1 running on a 5 year old device still getting updates and spare parts.

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I’m, not sure, whether that makes sense. I’m not even really happy with the upgradable camera. It creates a ‘I want to have this’ feeling for some customers, although it’s not a real improvement, but produces more waste, more shipping action, more pollution.
That would be the same with a new memory option. Some people would like to have it, in spite the fact, that their FP3(+) is still working fine. In addition the memory is installed on the core module, so an upgrade would make it necessary to change the biggest part of the phone. Or buy a new one. That’s what the ‘big bad phone manufactures’ do, change a little bit here, a little bit there and some people are waiting three days and nights in front of the shop to be the first one to hold it in the hand.
So I guess to meet the companies goals, it makes more sense to support the existing phone as long as possible and design a new one, when that’s not really feasible anymore.

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Gradually swapping pages if memory usage is high ensures that the system does not suddenly become extremely slow once it hits 100%, and gives it time to find out which memory pages are really not used frequently.

The FP2 has a long-standing bug where it accidentally kills the launcher. I have not yet experienced it on the beta version of Android 9, so maybe the out-of-memory killer has had an upgrade.

I agree with the additional waste produced by the “i want to have this feeling”. Although, it allows people who want a good camera on their phone to go for a fairphone.
But I don’t agree with your view on the core module. Maybe because my knowledge it not at the same level as yours, you might have more informations as I do. As far as I know, the core module hold with 2 Torx T5 screws and can be removed and replaced “easely”. Thus, providing a better core module, once the current one is really outdated, would not increase waste, but allow people, looking for a faster phone, to only swap one piece - without buying a new camera, battery, plastics, protection, etc. (See step 9 for de core module exchange Fairphone 3 Teardown - iFixit)

@awopbob Although you are correct in saying the core module can be changed or upgraded it’s unlikely to occur as that would probably be for the next generation i.e. the FP4.

Once a new core module has been built then most of the other moduels are probably going to be upgraded and even the form factor may be smaller with a better ratio screen to phone size.

So not really any likelyhood of a RAM upgrade on the FP3

Saying that the FP3 has 4Gb RAM
and
I run a Windows 10 tablet with 2Gb RAM and no problems for some 5 years.

I’m, not sure, whether that makes sense. I’m not even really happy with the upgradable camera. It creates a ‘I want to have this’ feeling for some customers, although it’s not a real improvement, but produces more waste, more shipping action, more pollution.

Although I agree that a business model based on stimulating consumption is perverse, I’m not sure I agree with you on this one. For the impoved camera module, I share your doubt of the necessity. (On the other hand, I think many people don’t have the FP3 for its outstanding photography, so I’d call it ‘mostly harmless’.)

But responsiveness of the screen, the ability to pick up calls, the possibility of keeping a reasonable amount of apps (incl navigation and banking) on the phone, they are necessities (within the realm of a smartphone as a necessity), and apparently you need RAM for that.

Now I’m a layman on this here, but if I can upgrade a laptop with some extra RAM without changing the motherboard, it sounds plausible for phones too. Therefore, my almighty verdict :wink: for this request would be:

:heavy_check_mark: Legit.

(BTW, the suggestion in this thread, of flashing /e/ is also good, I think. Hardware makes a computer fast, software (read: Android) makes it slower.)

But all that works already with the 4GB the current version of the FP3 has.

I’m afraid it doesn’t, because the RAM was in sockets in laptops (it isn’t in a lot of new latops now), that doesn’t work for phones as it would make them far bigger and you have to create a new standard. Just look at the size of a standard S0-DIMM, that won’t fit in the case.

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@Jo8ost

As this is quite ‘a want’ I would like to add to the above quote and my earlier post. The RAM is a part of a single chip the (SoC) (System on a chip) that includes the CPU. So as Incanus said, it isn’t a practical option to have the memory separated from the cpu and other items on the chip, more ~ modules, cost, space ~ for/in the phone.

The FP3 is a 2019 spec and 4GB was standard then. It wasn’t deemed practical to jump ahead of the market even though the phone is designed to have an extended life.

Hopefully the FP4 will have 6 or even 8GB however look at the following just to see the options for 6GB RAM

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