Fairphone product release cycle

Now that Fairphone releases its third phone and some users bought all three of them, I wonder what long-term release cycle would be sustainable. I would argue that if the phones get updates and spare parts for 5 years from launch, new models should be released in about 2.5 year intervals. So people who want to stay with Fairphone could skip every other model and still always have a supported phone. And people who want to switch from other brands can do so every 2.5 years without compromising on longevity.

Currently, the situation is quite difficult for people who got the FP2 when it launched. Most of these phones will be 5 years old in 2021. Many of us will then need a new phone. But the FP3 will already be too old to achieve 5 years of lifetime.
An almost 4 year interval between releases (like with the FP2 / FP3) is too short to buy every new model, but too long to skip every other model.

What are your thoughts on this?


Good point, interesting discussion. I’m not sure it has to be as flawlessly precise. Sometimes a new product is warranted sooner, sometimes later, but always When It Is Ready™.

If the PC desktop market is going to lead the way, then horsepower/specs are going to be less important as the product matures/ages (even with Moore’s law in full effect).

Now, I believe the PC desktop market has lead the way. Combined with right to repair, the future is looking bright, but I see a market opportunity where the ideal solution is a combination of FP3 plus Librem 5. Modular, sustainable hardware with a complete FOSS/open hardware stack. Such could last ages!

One problem is, is that such competes with later releases of the smartphone. Which is why with 2,5 year releases you’ll have more people who skip a version.


I really wished we knew more about the actual sociography of Fairphoners, i.e. a breakdown of Fairphoners into age, gender, usage patterns etc. Generations ago :wink: (when someone called Joe Mier was community manager and Tessa Wernink was co-running Fairphone aside Bas van Abel), Fairphone would send survey questions like these to their email database every once in a while.

I regret that this approach stopped altogether, because it would provide data to better estimate what the actual needs and wants of Fairphoners are. Right now we can only follow our vague face value prejudice about the “typical Fairphoner”. So some take for granted that Fairphoners are all Generation Smartphone, some think all Fairphoners will insist on open source only, while my personal experience is that a sizable chunk of my Fairphone Community Aachen would probably still get along well with a Fairphone 1 if it was still available – because they primarily just want their phone to enable them to make calls, but definitely want to support the fairtrade idea, too.

So if it hasn’t become clear where the link to your question is – I find it very hard to generalize what people expect from their Fairphone. I find it right (actually, almost inevitable) from an economic point of view that Fairphone stuck to their “one model only” policy, but it also comes with the dilemma that it’s almost impossible to satisfy all Fairphoners.


Current Fairphoners: True. As they would receive the survey.

Potential future Fairphoners: False. Because they wouldn’t be able to respond to the survey.

I’m also curious what the breakdown is in motivations. I guess some FOSS purists move(d) to Librem 5, but it is also possible some fair trade purists move to FP3 via Librem 5 (or related) community.

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Really good point indeed.
And really interesting discussion so far.

I am not sure about the one phone policy.
In my opinion that depends on the growth of Fairphone.
Should they - with the help of the FP3 - achieve more sales and reach a broader market, things could (and should) change.
Why not present a new model every 2 to 3 years and change the specs.
Once a lower specs phone, 2.5 years later a high-end phone and 5 years later another lower specs phone.

Possibly, they could develop a kind of form-factor for their phones, so they can keep the case and the battery for a few successive phones.

The one thing, that should be avoided is to create the desire to always get the latest FP. Maybe the change in specs could achieve that.

But if FP gets really, really big, they might go for 2 phones every 2 to 3 years. One with lower specs, one with higher specs, so they can offer an attractive phone for everyone looking for a new phone at all times.
If they take care not to offer always the latest technology and if they develop their own special design, that they stick to, they hopefully would not create the “wanna have it” hype.


I think there is a semiofficial number that about 95%(?) of FP2 users stay on the stock FPOS (with GMS). This gives a good indication that the vast majority are not FLOSS enthusiasts (or techies in general). Fairphone’s marketing also doesn’t focus on this aspect.

My key point is that if a phone goes officially end-of-support, the manufacturer should offer an alternative. And this alternative shouldn’t be a phone which is already a significant way into its own support lifecycle.

We all know there are people out there using phones with hopelessly outdated OSes. But this is a huge security risk. A phone without official updates (remember the 95%) is a dead phone. Not necessarily on an individual level, but from a lifecycle strategy perspective.


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