Fairphone 3 SoC (Snapdragon 632) life span


I am thinking of buying the new FP3.

What surprises me is that the put a Snapdragon 632 and not a flagship one. Because they want to support the device for five years and apps and network jobs are getting more and more resource consuming I’d had expected to see something more powerful.
Furthermore I am wondering if they even can support any SoC for such a long time since Qualcomm most probably won’t provide firmware updates for such a “long” time I guess.

Any thoughts on this?


Hi amilopowers and welcome to the forum!

There are some discussions of the SoC in the FP3 reviews and some benchmarks in Geekbench already. But I do share your concerns. I was more enthusiastic when the first benchmarks appeared, but now I am a bit more careful.

I currently own a Pixel from 2016 and the performance is still okay. However, I compared the performance of the Pixel to the FP3 and the FP3 is a bit slower in single thread performance (like JavaScript on the web) and a bit faster in multi core loads:
Pixel 1677 4074
FP3 1251 4633

The FP3 has a good camera sensor but lacks Googles camera, compared to the latest Pixel Generation, both lack optical image stabilisation.

Don’t get me wrong, the Pixel is fine today and while smartphone innovation is not as quick as 10 years ago, I am not sure if the FP3 will still feel as smooth in 4 years from now. And even more important, it will not be an improvement to my current device, performance wise. I find it hard to invest 450€ without feeling any improvement in performance.

I understand the need for a good price point, but I would love to hear about a FP3 Pro in the near future that packs a better SoC and more memory and storage (and maybe optical image stabilisation). I would absolutely pay 50€ to 100€ more for for performance. The rest of the components could be the same as FP3.

BTW. Why am I actually looking for a new phone? The battery of the Pixel is quite weak and there is no official support, for m device. A Google partner repair center wants to charge me a minimum of 160€ plus shipping for swapping the battery. Another repair center here charges 120€ with all risks in case something breaks on me. This is ridiculously more then people pay on eBay for the Pixel. And a strong argument for the Fairphone 3.


In my opinion it all depends on what one wants and expects.

As much as I understand, that you would like to get something better than what you have at the price of the FP3. What do you need it for and in what way has your useage changed during the last years?
Speaking just for myself, I primaryly need the phone for calling and messaging; no social media stuff, no streaming or the like. Wifi at home only and rather seldom surfing the internet.
With that kind of useage even the FP1 would last me the next 5 years, no problem.

If I would be streaming videos all the time and were active on all kinds of social media channels, needing to update the apps all the time. Then I would have doubts as well, as some kinds of apps stop supporting older OS-versions. On the other hand e.g. whats-app still works on the FP1 featuring Android 4.2.

Would I use the phone for gaming the latest games, the FP3 will not suffice; even now (as I remember from one review).

In the end, everyone has to decide on ones own.

One more point
I guess, that Fairphone takes a bit more time for developing a new phone. For the FP3 they had to do a new modular design, find a new manufacturer, do research for gold supply, for workers wages etc…
That’s a lot to do for a small team. At one point during that process of developing the new phone, they have to decide on the hardware.
My assumption is, that the Snapdragon 632 at the time Fairphone made that decision was ranking higher, than it is now.
I expect the big ones like Samsung or LG, having lots of staff for developing new phones have no problem coming with a phone-design for the latest SoCs in no time.


I think I am kind of a power user. No gaming, but some video, a lot of photos, App development…

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Being in your place, I would be hesitant as well, thinking of the next five years.

I don’t necessarily need a new phone right now. I got a Nokia 7.1 earlier this year. The point is that I want to jump on the FP wave when a new one comes out. In two years from now I wont buy an old phone.

@BertG I don’t think that it is as easy as that. I want a phone that is secure and supported. Well FP claims to support the phone for five years. Very good. But again: what happens if Qualcomm decides to stop support after two years? We will have phones with crucial parts without updates.

I agree with @ben that I had paid up to 100€ more just to get a more sustainable phone but again the Qualcomm factor stays.

Well, a top SoC right now would have been simply too expensive for the FP3. Even more so, since you have to have the according accompanying hardware for the other parts.
I am not sure, that the 632 will go sooner out of support than one of the high-end SoCs.
Right now, Qualcomm on their homepage is showing the Qualcomm 2 and Snapdragon 4, 6, 7 and 8 Series Mobile Platforms.
So maybe support for the 632 for the next 5 years is not that unlikely. Especially since they characterize the Snapdragon 6 Series this way:

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 6 series mobile platforms are designed for performance, efficiency and versatility by offering superior mobile user experiences in a variety of form factors, from smartphones and tablets to embedded designs and connected cars.

Since they are not for phones only but for tablets and even cars as well, I would expect a longer support. Though that’s just my hoping.

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Perhaps I’m being naive here, but for me it looks quite simple in theory:

If Fairphone can acquire the necessary source code to support the 632 themselves after Qualcomm declares it EOL, then extended support independent of the EOL, whenever that may be in the first place, would at least be possible. Who knows whether it would be feasible practically.

If the EOL for the 632 comes sooner than in 5 years, and if Fairphone can’t acquire the sources, then I guess they would then run into some problems going forward like they did with Android 7 on the Fairphone 2 with its Snapdragon 801 unsupported by Qualcomm on Android 7.

Anyway, nobody can tell what will happen whenever right now.
Will Fairphone “live” to see five years? Will Qualcomm?


Instead of hoping to get the code (most likely under an NDA) and supporting the chip alone, it would have been easier to choose a SoC that is supported in the Mainline Kernel. MSM8998 (Snapdragon 835) would have been a possible choice.

But there is also the proprietary firmware that runs on those chips. It would be very surprising if Qualcomm would decide to release that. But I assume the people at Fairphone thought about those issues and have a contract that assures 5 years of support for the SoC (and all other components in the phone).

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Can the project Trebel be useful here in terms of support ? See https://www.computerworld.com/article/3306443/what-is-project-treble-android-upgrade-fix-explained.html

The Snapdragon 801 is from 2013. The Fairphone 2 was released end of 2015. At that point, the Snapdragon 801 was already more than a year old. The Snapdragon 632 is from 2018. The Fairphone 3 was released end of 2019. At that point, the Snapdragon 632 wa already more than a year old.

Last year’s high-end smartphone is akin to this year’s mid-range. The need for a high-end smartphone however has been lowered. Look at the desktop PC industry for reference. Do you really need a high-end desktop machine? Heck, do you even need a desktop machine?

That is the ridiculous trend of the high-end smartphone. What do you need all that horsepower for? You probably don’t, that’s the point. Europeans buy far less high-end smartphones these days (don’t have source at hand). What matters with technology products is that they are “good enough”.

The device has 64 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, and a decent processor. Will this be good enough in 4 years? We can’t tell for sure because we don’t know what is going to happen in those 4 years.

My take is that bezels are on the way out, and all kind of on-board technology is moved to wireless. I also expect convergence between desktop OS (ie. Windows) and smartphone (ie. Android) to take off more. For such, I don’t think FP3 will suffice. For things like AV/VR, I don’t think FP3 will suffice. Some light gaming? Suffice. Browsing, music, movie? Suffice. Taking pictures? Suffice. Wireless payment? Suffice. For the things we currently use our mid-range (not high-end) smartphones for? Suffice. If you need 5G? Not suffice, but do you need 5G? Unless you are sure you do, you probably don’t (I’ve been asking multiple times for use cases of 5G here on the forum; read none thus far). Remember, SD 801 had Cat 4 LTE, SD 632 has Cat 7 LTE. Mobile 4G performance will be better, will have more frequencies. Now, we don’t know how good the hardware is going to age, but we do know it is relatively still easy to replace the modules. As for authentication, we got touchID, NFC, USB-C, but no faceID (camera not suffice for that).

It all stands on the shoulders of Qualcomm though. Will they still support this SoC? Well, the 801 was not a popular SoC, and there was still a higher turnover rate for smartphones.


The market for sustainable smartphones needs to grow so that Fairphone can actually offer some choice while still benefiting from scale. Just saying that a more powerful SoC would be a better choice for me.


Technical details state Cat 13.

Download Cat 7 (300 mbit), upload Cat 13 (150 mbit). Which is 2x the download of the 801, and 3x the upload of the 801. That’s the theoretical max. It supports more frequency bands as well. Netto its a plus compared to FP2.


I’m in the same position as Ben. I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 which is 3 years old and the battery is slowly dying. To fix it I’d need to pay for a battery and a new screen as it has a minor crack on it, meaning it’s over £150 for a battery.

I might be wrong but I don’t think the SoC is strong enough to last for 5 years either, and likewise, it’s a step sideways in performance from my current phone. I’d love for them to produce a higher spec option, and at the same time I understand why they aren’t at the moment.

To Fairphones huge credit, when I sent them a message saying that I was going to try and make my current phone last longer as I didn’t feel the Fairphone 3’s specs were that great, they said that this was the ideal scenario and that was definitely the best thing for me to do as it’s better for the environment to not get a new phone.


I hope there is an improvement in performance because my FP2 stopped working after a month, and was refurbished right away. Result: value of the phone drop by 80% in laterally 3 months! Since then I kept experiencing problem I tried to sold it but the price is ridiculously low, so I’m just gonna use it until the warranty expires. Also, be ready to stay for 3/4 weeks without the phone when something breaks (Unless you live next to a place where they can fix it locally) and to have modules or the phone itself shipped around Europe (bad for the environment as well). If I could go back I’d never buy a FP, so ponder well your decision. If you do it for the environment, definitely invest your money for a real good cause because their technology is far from being ready to be sustainable!

As a user of the FP2 for 3 years and 9 months who has had a lot of troubles with it (thankfully there is a 2 years warranty, I’ve used it and reused it, again and again for various reasons at least 5-6 times up to the end) and now user of the FP3 for 2 weeks now, I can tell you they have learned from their mistakes: the battery now lasts largely long enough, the modules are solidly fixed, Android 9 is here (up to date) and should be updated to Android 10.
As for the hardware problems, the modular concept makes it easier to correct them quickly if it concerns a module, they can send it to you in a few days… As opposed to all other smartphone companies…


Are you all paid to leave this comments or are they genuine? I’m questioning because every time I exposed my bad experience in this chat I received the answer of someone taking the part of the company and waving how good their phones work… While speaking with other owners of FP2 many agreed with me on the bad performance of the phone

I don’t think anyone here is paid, except if written “Fairphone Employee” under their name :wink: but as we love the concept and are heavily active on the forum, you can guess we want to support the idea and defend the project of a fair(er) phone. And if you notice, we are a lot to have had more or less troubles with it, myself included (a lot with my FP2). But I don’t think we should drop this great concept right away if so…


Just wait until the next level … People dropping in who have next to no problem with their Fairphone 2.

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