I think people would also be more likely to buy a phone that’s just 1-2 years old, as opposed to the present situation with Fairphone. While there are only a couple years between the first- and second-generation Fairphones, but as you said in your post, the Fairphone 3 is four years old. Sure, they released the Fairphone 3+last year, but it’s just a Fairphone 3 with a better camera and better audio. Plus, what if someone wants to buy their first Fairphone and the current one has been out for 3-4 years? They’re not going to want to get an older phone. They might get a placeholder phone and keep it either until it can’t get OS updates or until Fairphone finally releases a new model, which isn’t exactly the goal of Fairphone. I mean, isn’t one of the goals of Fairphone to minimize the number of phones going to landfills? How does that work when someone has to buy a placeholder phone just so they can have a newer phone until a new Fairphone is released? A four- or five-year release cycle works fine once everybody who will ever buy a Fairphone has bought one, but that also doesn’t take into account new generations of customers who might want to get a Fairphone but are reluctant because the then-current phone is kinda old.
I realize that the reason for this four-year gap might be to get people used to not getting a new phone every year or two, but as I said earlier, waiting four years between releases isn’t going to get a lot of new buyers. I’ve been waiting to buy one for a few years (I live in the US), but I want it for a few reasons. A lot of folks might only be interested in Fairphone because it’s pretty much the last phone which still has a headphone jack and a removable battery. Those are fine reasons, but there are other reasons, like upgradability and Fairphone’s commitment to making phones which can run the latest OS as long as possible - hence their calling out Qualcomm for not providing binary blobs for more than a couple years, or at least providing the source code after that time. I’m not sure if the reason Qualcomm doesn’t provide binary blobs for more than a couple years is because they don’t want to invest resources, or if they’re worried about releasing trade secrets, or if they want to make people more likely to buy a new phone sooner. If it’s the first two, I don’t see why they couldn’t just license the code - either for free or for a price - to phone vendors who are interested in such a thing. Granted Fairphone, would probably be the only vendor which would be interested in licensing the source code, but at least it would be a step in the right direction. Fairphone could compile the drivers for the then-current version of Android and they could even make those binary blobs available to other Android derivatives. Sure, other Android forks would be getting blobs rather than source code, but at least would be a step in the right direction. RMS wouldn’t be happy about it, but it’s probably the only way to convince the vendor to part with the source code, short of the EU requiring chip vendors -or at least SoC vendors - to provide source code at some point.