Fairphone’s approach to root on the Fairphone 2

@keesj, if you are under legal obligations to not allowing root when GAPPS are installed, please come out clearly about this. That’s something I might grumble about but understand.

Your current statements have me scratching my head. They seem to be written by big companies like Samsung and the likes spreading FUD around rooting while ignoring all the other, more urgent, security and privacy problems on Android.


That seems similar to all the statements the movie and record industries make around DRM.

Time and time again, it has been shown that it hardly stops the pirates, but restricts the (legal) rights of the fair owners.


This is where you are going wrong. You don’t seem to be able to see this from other points of view. You maybe right with regards to bank security but a lot of people like to use them. I’m not talking about NFC payments but simple stuff like checking balances. Many banks websites don’t work well on mobile browsers.

You can’t make a device just with the techie people in mind, Fairphone have to make inroads to the mass market if they want to make any changes.

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@keesj: I disagree deeply with your statement. It is an overestimate of the security of a non-rooted-phone. We currently know apk being able to root FP2 (so FP2 not rooted is not secure).

You said some resonable arguments, but having already a final decision in mind, your arguments miss the point. I feel disrespected by your approach. I did not know at the time of ordering, that root would be not supported. When Did Fairphone comunicate this information? At some - late - point, there was a statement, FP2 would not be rooted, but easy to root.

At the time I bought a FP1 for my wife, knowing its miserable Mediatek chip. Every Nerd knew at the time, that sources would be worse than for any Qualcom driven device. I was pretty sure, that there would be no later Android Version for FP1. But I wanted to support you!

And still I very much liked the triple combination for the FP1:

  1. root
  2. GAPPS
  3. Security Updates OTA

I could have bought a NEXUS device instead. But as soon as you root it, you have to manually install Updates. Or you have to go for a Custom ROM to get the above triple combination.

But any Nexus device will have plenty of Custom ROMs. - My ordered FP2 will probably have some Custom ROMs, but sure not many - and probably we have not enough good Devs for Nexus-Rom Quality.

Do you really want me to cancel my order? Just because you did not understand my needs as a customer? Do you want me to get a NOT-FAIR Phone instead?


What really would be great is an official communication regarding the timeframe needed to make the root thing possible, whatever the solution (although I think the possibility to root the vanilla OS should be given to the users).

TBH, it has been nearly 6 months I’m expecting to change my phone, my previous one is on the brink of falling apart now, and I cannot enjoy the phone I received several days ago because I cannot restore my data and my paid apps (which, like titanium backup, require a root access).

For what I understand, expecting the phone not to be rooted does not mean that the app developers by default require it not to be rooted (except for some apps; someone on the forum gave the example of a German banking app, AFAIR).

What’s a little bit disappointing is that this choice has been made several months after the first orders (I have found trace of the root thing there : blog post on the 23rd of September, 2015. I have ordered my phone on the 16th of July (at the time I did my order, less than 1000 phones were sold !), and I started this adventure with a really good feeling thinking we were really going to change the world.

Now for me this choice is quite clearly a bad gesture towards what I will call the “intermediate geeks”, i.e. the people that are tech savvy enough to know how to root a phone (and hopefully not make it explode), but not actively working on the internals (I don’t know of Android’s internal mechanisms, although I know what app deserves to require the root access). I clearly understood the reason for your position regarding the root access, but for me it’s overprotective for a phone manufacturer not to allow root access to their phones with GAPPS (given other manufacturers don’t seem to give much of a s**t about it).

I was really eager to receive my FP2, but now it’s staying patiently in its box waiting for its potential to be unleashed. And I’m filled with doubt as to what to do with this box … Shall I send it back ? I would feel bad because I abide to your values. Still, for now, the customer that I am feels bad because I didn’t receive 100% of what I ordered.


Hi everybody,

I want to weigh in here on an issue that is clearly very important to all of you writing here. The Fairphone team hears you!

I admit our communication about what we’re offering in terms of root and a non-Google services phone has not been very clear, so I want to take the time to reiterate what we’re offering, when, and why.

We’re offering:

  1. Android 5.1 Lollipop with Google services, no root access
  2. Open source version with no Google services, root access

When and why:

  1. Android 5.1 Lollipop with Google services, no root access

This version is shipped to Fairphone 2 owners ready out-of-the-box. We cannot offer a version with Google services and root enabled. To get approval to ship a phone with Google services, a phone must pass compatibility tests and one requirement is that they are not shipped with root access.

But still, we want to follow our goals of ownership, longevity and transparency, so we are currently working on a version that is Google-free and *rootable (EDITED) via our development site code.fairphone.com.

2 . Open source version with no Google services, root access

The software team is working on this version, but there is no timeline to announce yet. There are still a few open questions about the open source version that we are working to answer, eg:

  • How the open source, rootable version will be downloaded and installed by the user (documentation)
  • When this open source version will be available
  • How updates will work with the open source version, and how frequently they will happen in relation to the updates to the Google-services version of Fairphone 2 OS

In addition to this work that the internal Fairphone team is working on, developers can use the sources on code.fairphone.com to compile and root the Fairphone 2 themselves. We welcome this discussion and development on the forum.

I understand we have disappointed a vocal group of people here in this thread. I hope now we have provided more clarity on the software offering, and each person should decide for him/herself if this is up to your standards. If you’re not satisfied with what we can offer at this point, then you are completely entitled to a full refund within 14 days of receiving your phone. We’d be sorry to see you return your phone (and hope you will stay active in our community). But we want to make sure your expectations of the product are reached, so if you would like a refund please contact our support team.

I apologize again on behalf of the Fairphone team that these software issues were not more clear prior to you buying or receiving your Fairphone 2. I hope we can keep the forum and this discussion positive going forwardand constructive. I really appreciate the time you all put in to contributing to the forum and keeping our community active!



Why haven’t you said this clear sentence in the beginning? The statement from @keesj sounds like that was Fairphone’s voluntary decision. If this clear sentence had been fallen at the first post, the bashes against Fairphone wouldn’t exist here.

But thank you for clarifying.


But, with the open source version, are we going to be able to flash directly “by ourselves” the gapps ( for example, openGapps ) ?


Thanks for that long expected input.

Still the options suck… I would like to use a rooted phone with GAPPS as I have been doing since my first smartphone. I’m not a developer so I can’t work on the issue…

As the phone is already shipped now you can release an “official inofficial” or “inofficial official” tutorial on how to root… and keep GAPPS…

For the time being I’m still hesitating to go back to my FP1 and use my old ROOTED WITH GAPPS Samsung S3 for apps like sumup. This upgrade will be easy… You have info everywhere on the net.

Still have some days to figure out what I’ll do… Send the phone back or not.

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Thanks, Joe.

I still don’t understand, though, why other Google phones seem to be easily routable while the FP2 with Google supposedly isn’t. Can anyone explain it to me as one of those semi-advanced non-developer users who enjoyed the freedom of root on the FP1 (Backups, XPosed, the early storage issue…) without knowing that much about Android’s deeper structure?


For me it would be enough if I could get a “superSU.zip” verified for this phone, so I could install it via Bootloader.



Thanks for this update.
As the phone can’t clearly be SHIPPED with both gapps+root, the question now shifts to : can it be UPDATED to gapps+root ?
I know that unofficial roms for android usually ask you to get the gapps in a separate file.

So, which of the 3 possibilities could be feasible ?

1/ Offer a complete ROM with gapps+root for users to download and flash (I guess that offering an aftermarket download, or shipping preinstalled could be different things)
2/ Offer a superSU like patch for the shipped ROM, with beginner install instructions. @Spielmops option
3/ Offer a GAPPS add-on for the open-source android version. Is this possible ? @elipsus option. I don’t know much about opengapps, could someone explain the difference with regular gapps ?


see here: FP2 Open OS - Wish: A powerful Recovery ROM (and what it has to do with freedom / root / gapps)

Thanks for the post, this makes things clearer.

May I ask why it was possible with the FP1? What has changed?

And secondly instantly [quote=“jaymanu, post:83, topic:11893”]
As the phone can’t clearly be SHIPPED with both gapps+root, the question now shifts to : can it be UPDATED to gapps+root ?
this question arises, especially with this [quote=“jaymanu, post:83, topic:11893”]
2/ Offer a superSU like patch for the shipped ROM, with beginner install instructions. @Spielmops option


Thanks for that clarficiation Joe,

if only following would have been said earlier without all the other technical explanations, I’m sure the sentiments here and in the community would have have been different:

I strongly suggest that the first post would be edited to clearly indicate that not shipping with root is a legal requirement.

That being said, nothing in your statement indicates that it would be illegal to support the community by offering a manual on how to root.

As I and @spielmops suggested, why not supply a correctly signed su binary that can be written with the recovery ROM ?

Edit: @Sonne beat me to the bush :smile:


FP1 didn’t come shipped with GAPPS, they could be installed and that was causing a lot of problems.
To avoid this trouble FP wanted to ship the second model with GAPPS preinstalled, as that is apparently what most users want.

I don’t think FP will provide a GAPPS installer for the easily rootable FP Open OS and it certainly doesn’t sound like they will provide an official way to root the FP os w/GAPPS.
But there are other ways:

Good idea! I quoted @anon90052001’s post into @keesj’s original post so people who don’t read the whole thread can find the most important info easily. Hope they don’t mind!


I read at the top that FP insists for getting our opinions. I for one own an FP1 whose pre-rooted status was just a must before even considering Android -it was my first Android. The very first app I installed was F-droid, then an open-source firewall (AFWall+). Then, I started controlling what happened on my phone.

The fact this is not available anymore (without an incredibly complex procedure involving external components like opengapps) was just a no-go for me.

I don’t know how many customers like me you lost; probably most of them won’t come back here to comment, presumably they are not so numerous.

But the ethics of all this is strongly shocking to me.

In a word, my feeling : You jump into Google’s arms -I leave you.

This may sound aggressive, or like Joe puts it at the top, ‘vocal’, but sincerely it is not, and as post # 87 it won’t even be seen.
It is just, I cannot regress this way -honestly.

I am now investing into Jolla/Sailfish even though they are in an unhealthy state at this moment. Maybe this indeed is a good reason to help.

P. S. was it really you, that shipped Fairphone 1 with this color postcard saying ‘if you can’t open it, you don’t own it’ ?
(Naive illustration with a jam pot.)
I found you were twice younger than me at the time.
Now you are twice older.


Well, when I get my FP2 (I ordered late during the crowdfunding period) I will try to find a solution that works to my satisfaction. If I am not successful within the first 14 days I will probably have to send it back because there is no way of knowing when, if ever, there will be an easy solution for me.
I would be very sad if I had to send it back. Paying so much money for a phone was a big step for me, I never thought I would spend so much on a piece of electronic I carry with me and could loose any time.
It was quite an emotional investment for me.

I have the FP1, which will pass on to my husband as his phone is dying for quite some time.
I never had any problems with root.
Reinstalling google apps after each mayor update was a nuissance but a minor one.

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Well, after reading this thread throughout the day i want to share my opinion too.

i’m very happy FP made the decision to deliver stock android 5.1 with the FP2.
I voted for that option when there was a forum poll about that.
I think it’s the right choice for the beginning of its lifecycle, where a lot of users (not coming from rooted phones) just want to have a user experience they are used to. Like already mentioned above, there was quiet some trouble bringing GApps to FP1, for a lot of users.
Trouble that would keep a big number of possible supporters away from FP in my opinion.
I’m also looking forward to an official android 6.0 update, which would prolong the usability of FP2 remarkebly.
So, having the OPTION to run stock android is good imo.
nevertheless, i understand root is essential for some users and to wait for the open source os could be very frustrating.
Wouldn’t have been a mistake to offer that OSOS from the beginning, like on FP1.

for me personally, a fairphone was never about root or non root. although i understand fairness or freedom as some called it, can also be extended to Software and Privacy.

To me it is about an iportant story about our worldwide economy.
And it is about a lively community that brought 2 phones to live that tell that story and started a movement.

So i very much value the vivid discussions here on the forum, it shows that this community is alive and wants to contribute.

I never had a phone with such a big community involved - its awsome!


I think the mayor problem is not the cause itself. But like with the broken mayor promise along the back cases (still I didn´t see any official excusion for this or did I just miss?): No one told to the customers the naked truth before order or delivery.

The main problem in my opinion is exactly this kind of communication disaster. Advertising instead of open communication. This can be resolved in the future.