FP4 / Potential buyers technical questions

Hi,
I’m trying to find out if the FP4 is the right phone for me (in my opinion it is too large, but unfortunately small phones doesn’t seem to exist anymore). I’m not a smartphone expert at all (but quite good at PC, Linux and electronics), so sorry if some of these questions sound stupid.

My current phone is a LG G2 (almost 10 years old), not only has the battery become weak, also WiFi gets disconnected quite often recently (seems to be a common issue, the connections between the WiFi chip and the PCB break). I use LineageOS+microG as operating system.

My questions:

  1. There doesn’t seem to be LineageOS for FP4 yet (except for some builds I found on some forums). There is /e/OS advertised for FP4, from what I read /e/OS is a fork of LineageOS with microG integrated. While it says it is focused on privacy I read that it has a cloud service and contains proprietary apps, that are big cons over LineageOS for me. Can I get an /e/OS build without any cloud services or proprietary apps included? I do not need/want any store to access Google-Play-apps.

  2. In case something goes wrong when installing another OS, is the FP4 un-brickable? The LG G2 has a great feature, you can short a capacitor when connecting the battery and the SoC will start in mass storage mode, you basically get an external flash drive with lots of partitions independent of any installed OS (there is also another mode that allows you to configure the SoC using a specialized Qualcomm software). Can the FP4 unbricked in a similar way?

  3. While being very lucky with the G2 having third-party Android updates up to 11 (is came with 4), the kernel seems to be stuck at the historical version of 3.2. Can the kernel of the FP4 be updated or does it contain some closed-source modules that only work with a specific kernel version?

  4. Does “Fairphone OS” contain any specific binary blobs for operating the phone that an alternative OS cannot use and therefore some features are not available, battery life is worse, camera quality is decreased etc.?

Best regards
Stefan

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Welcome to the community :wave:

LOS for the FP4 is in a constant state of almost released, but there is a bunch of different ROMs available, have a look at the #oslist

The FP4 is very much permanently brickable, you"ll find quite a few stories on this forum of people successfully turning their phones into a :brick:
If you aren’t careful, that absolutely can happen.

Android kernels are usually pinnend to a specific version, based on your hardware, it rarely happens, that a OEM bumps that version to a new major release.
There is however ongoing work to get a mainline kernel working, but that will still take some time.

The wide angle lense is the biggest problem at the moment, and in general some proprietary camera stuff. Some of it hopefully get’s resolved when the phone finally gets upgraded to A12.
Other than that, it’s mostly the same, since custom ROMs ship with proprietary blobs / firmware included.

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If you don’t like it, you need not have to activate the cloud service just as I did not.
You have the usual suspects installed, calculator, browser(a fork of Chromium/Bromite), phone/contacts app, camera, notes…and the “app lounge” in case you want to install further apps. Use it without registration in anonymous mode (default) or register your G****e account if you want to or simply “force stop” it and remove all network access.
There’s nothing more preinstalled.
But if you like go ahead and build your own /e/ version as you prefer.
There’s no background traffic going on beside microG services core (and update service if activated).

Afaik camera apps cannot utilize the full potential of the hardware.

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That’s rather disappointing for a phone that claims to be repairable, that you can easily brick it using software. Especially since the my LG G2 has such a great feature (probably by accident, I doubt LG intentionally implemented this, I also don’t think it is mentioned in the service manual). Is there no way to boot the FP into mass-storage mode and just restore the internal memory from a PC?
Is there any service manual available for the FPs? I have one for my LG G2, almost 400 pages with complete schematic, configuration details and troubleshooting guidelines (of course marked “Internal use only”), but I cannot find anything for the FP, all I can find are some basic repair guides.

That’s great. Hopefully the effort will end in a success, that a stock kernel will just work

Is that a new hardware revision, a new camera module?

Nice that there is an easy build guide, but as I’m not an Android developer I wouldn’t know where to start modifying the source (I build LineageOS+microG a few years ago, very straightforward with Docker, but time & disk space consuming).

Nope, and as you’ve mentioned yourself, that’s leaked documentation / tooling. The FP4 userbase is considerably smaller, the odds of something like that leaking are quite low.

Fairphone itself won’t / can’t publish those, there’s the security aspect of it, and I’d imagine there’s a fair amount of NDAs involved.
Some people have asked, and the answer is no.

Nope, just a upgrade to Android 12, since stock FPOS is still on A11.
Some of the functionality of the camera hardware is broken on newer Android versions, so those of us on newer versions are waiting for FP to update the firmware. Won’t fix every problem for custom ROMs, but should address some of them.

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Ok, thanks for your answer.
Unfortunately the FP doesn’t seem to be a suitable phone for me.
I just had a look for another current phone with good LineageOS support, and just googled “ unbrick” and one of the first results was how to put it into a special mode by just holding some buttons while pluggins it into a PC and use a Qualcomm tool to reinstall a factory image. When I google “fairphone 4 unbrick” what I find is reports from people that have bricked their phone, but no solution. That’s not good at all.

Honestly, when I have to pay a premium amount for a middle-class smartphone I expect a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of fair-sourced materials and affordable spare parts and I am willing to pay extra money for that. But the the only thing that ever went wrong for me in the past would turn my Fairphone into e-waste and that’s really bad. From my perspective even worse for the Fairphone: Other manufacturers have a solution for that (I don’t think holding some buttons while plugging the phone into USB to be able to connect to it is implemented by accident) and prevent e-waste by doing so.

Even if you brick your FP4, it‘s not ewaste, because it can be repaired by the official service partner. And you can easily avoid bricking, by following the steps fellow community members are posting here.

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The problem isn’t that you couldn’t use that, you can just as easily access Qualcomms EDL mode on a Fairphone, been there, but the loader you need to communicate with the FP4, unlike the FP3, is signed. Some phones just used a generic one in the past, not sure how common that is anymore.

They don’t, (almost) all those solutions rely on tools that have been leaked, which would work with a FP4 as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I would very much prefer if Fairphone just released the loader, but they can’t just release internal tooling, that’s all covered by Qualcomms NDAs.

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