Fairphone 4 bricked by locking bootloader

No I did not check that, because I was not aware that this was important. I did not see that in the howto. - Optional: Lock your bootloader

I was advised by support. Update OTA was not coming to my phone and this offline update was an option.
From the e-mail:

If that does not work, you could try to manually install the latest version of Fairphone OS on your Fairphone 4 yourself. Back up your data before proceeding.

If you have a different operating system, it will be replaced by Fairphone OS and your data will be lost. To do so follow the support article: Install Fairphone OS on your Fairphone 4 using a computer.

I just wanted to update my FP4 to Android 12. without waiting for the OTA. Never expected this to happen. Never had this kind of trouble with stock/custom roms on my older Samsung S9.

Oooff, that’s an awful recommendation :roll_eyes:

I’m sorry you are in the situation you are in right now. As I see it the responsibility is absolutely on Fairphone’s side here, why were they thinking you won’t receive the update otherwise, and why would they suggest such a dangerous route in the first place? :thinking:

Your way forward is to get support to send you shipping instructions as quickly as possible so your phone can get fixed by Cordon.

Maybe we’ll get updated support pages as well at some point, one can dream …


did they dare to ask you in which country you live and which provider you use? Def call them to speed things up and def don’t pay a cent for this.

Still I need to say, you should have known its a bad idea for other reasons, as you knew there are reasons you didnt get the A12 upgrade and only the A11 update.

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I just have to wait for a respons from support then, I’m afraid. Luckily I haven’t sold my old Samsung yet.

I thought that I did not get this OTA Android 12 update because it was not OTA ready. But I did not see a reason why a full FP4-Android 12 image write would be a problem.
And as far as I understand, this update went ‘fine’, but the relock of the bootloader was the problem here. Or is this relock problem of the bootloader the reason that OTA was not coming through? I do not know how I could know that. I was following the instructions on the support pages.

Oh …

… you were one of the people who had to stay on Android 11 for now because the provider still hasn’t signed off on the update.

Yeah, support definitely shouldn’t have advised you to do anything manually at all. I haven’t had my hands on the parallel A11 update you got, but I suspect it has a patch level that’s somehow incompatible with the A12 factory images you installed, which triggered rollback protection → :brick:

You didn’t update your phone, you flashed it back to factory and yes, locking the bootloader enables the safety features mentioned above, you would have been fine if you’d kept it unlocked.
The OTA update wasn’t coming through because you are not supposed to get it yet, it was working as intended.

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Is it normal to wait 11 days now for support to come back to me with a solution? Last thing I heard was:

That was 22 of February.

yes more or less normal… You can maybe speed up by calling

Today I finally got an answer fro support that they can fix my Fairphone 4 if I pay 34 euro’s.
They say that I missed a warning:

If you install an OS with an older security patch level than your previous 
OS, Android's roll-back protection might **brick** your device when locking 
the bootloader! Wait until you get a software update with the same or newer 
security patch level before locking the bootloader.

According to support:

The Android 11 software's security patch level is **05.01.23**.
The Android 12 software's security patch level is **05.12.22**.```

But it was absolutely not clear to me that Android 12 has a lower security patch level that Android 11.
I’m very disappointed in Fairphone here! :sob:

You should not accept this as it was their error to tell you to do it for various reasons. However, you have to talk to support, we cant help you with this.

we cant help you with this

I know, but I like to hear your opinions in this. To check if I’m not wrong here.

No you arent wrong

:astonished: I’m maybe dense, but “05.01.23” sounds lower to me than “05.12.22”, probably because I’m assuming the “01” and the “12” are higher level than the trailing “23” and “22”. As in version 1.23 vs. version 12.22.
Short version: Definitely not clear!

Those are dates not version numbers…

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OMG. I would never had guessed… :man_facepalming:

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This is completely unacceptable, even if at this point, it’s the sort of behaviour that I’m starting to expect from Fairphone. That warning is not on the official page explaining offline Fairphone OS installation. In fact, that page actually discusses what you did, installing the Android 12 update while in a region that did not receive a notification, and says only that they do not recommend manual installation because you’ll need to downgrade to receive future updates:

The period February-March '23 is transitional between Android 11 and Android 12. Users on certain networks in France and Switzerland do not receive the notification to update to Android 12. If you are one of those users, we do not recommend a manual installation of Android 12. If you install it against this recommendation, you will be stuck outside the regular update path and you must downgrade back to Android 11 (which will wipe data) in order to receive future over-the-air updates.

It certainly does not say that it will brick your device.

The warning they refer to is only on this page. It seems heavily implied that it is referring to 3rd party OSs. That Fairphone would release an Android 11 update with a higher security patch level than their Android 12 update seems extremely problematic, given their poor implementation of anti-rollback protections. I can see their desire to have security updates for users in Android 11 regions, but given the way this problem is obscured for this specific upgrade on their support pages, it seems obvious that they’ll end up in this situation. For them to then refuse to take responsibility for their mistake, especially when fixing it is not a significant cost for them, is extremely disappointing.

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Those dates where not mentioned on the bootloader lock pages. These dates where mentioned first in the e-mail I received from Fairphone support. I was not aware of any security update date on Android 11, and how that would be a problem when installing a new whole new rom. Or at least was assuming that Android 12 would have a higher security level than Android 11. That looks obvious to me.

@const Yes that exactly how I’m felling right now. I was following the instructions and took care of their advice:

To protect your data in case of theft or loss of your Fairphone, we advise you to keep the bootloader of your Fairphone locked.

To lock the bootloader of your Fairphone again, follow the instructions below:

This warning:

If you've installed an OS with an older security update, Android's roll-back protection might brick your device when locking the bootloader! 

concerns others OS’s going back to Stock, or newer stock going to older versions of stock. That is how I understand this. 12 seems newer to me that 11.

Agree. I would expect that the version counter would be reset to zero for each major OS version, since a Android 11 patch won’t work on Android 12 anyway (I assume). So we should see A11.xxx and A12.xxx patches, and those should not compete.

Patches for different OS versions shouldn’t compete or be compared, so using dates is plain stupid when two different OSes are managed concurrently. IMHO.

Maybe stupid and nothing Fairphone invented. Android security patches are “refelcted” by a date.

Edit to add I was just referring the fact that Android security patches are using dates, the rest really seem odd as explained below by Hirnsushi

I’m still not sure if this is intendended behavior or a bug, because …

… I would read that as you should be starting from a clean slate and that doesn’t happen, but …

… I’ve given up hope that someone at Fairphone will clear up this issue at some point and explain why this doesn’t work as expected :man_shrugging:

In my opinion, if they don’t talk to us, they should be fixing the phones free of charge!