Future Android version for the Fairphone 1 / 1U

Hey guys,

just wanted to ask and discuss:

Will there be an update for the fairphone to KitKat? I heard of compatibility issues with the Mediatek chip…

Question for the community:

Is it essential and necessary for you to have the latest Android version installed? If yes, why?

For my part up-to-dateness of software has something to do with sustainability. The longer I’m able to use my hardware with the latest software, the longer I will use it. E.g. the latest Ubuntu would still run on a 5 year old machine or even an older one.

So what’s your opinion?




No, for me the present Android version meets with my needs.

It’s my first “smart” phone. So as long as it runs basic/necessary apps smoothly, there’s no need to beta test the latest versions of GoogleOS.

Now replacing the OS with an alternative one (such as FirefoxOS) would be interesting taking the Fairphone message into account.

But there’s no need to hurry…

Not vital for me at all. Put it this way… I’ve been using Android 2.2 on my old HTC Desire for over 3 years! It worked with the apps and HTC Sense version I needed, so no need to change.

But also, Tom makes a good point about sustainability - if I eventually need to use later software, it’s important that the hardware supports it. That’s always been one of the hardest things with technology (hello Apple, are you listening?) and although mostly unpredictable, I’m sure manufacturers can “future-proof” their products a lot more than they currently do.

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Absolutely. But they don’t want to because it is part of the business model, that customers buy new hardware every 2 or 3 years. Vodafone had a plan here in Germany with a new smartphone every year. Nonsense, but it keeps the industry running…



Yes somehow it is because i am curious and a bit of a geek ;-). Seriously your point about sustainability is very true – and having a recent Android OS makes it possible to use the phone longer.
There may be hardware limitations in the future but the fairphone is still a mid-range device and should be able run Android L at least.

Is it important to get the newest release as soon as it is out? No, but having a clear upgrade path is crucial. Given Android 4.4 was already announced or released when the Fairphone came to market, i really expect an update to 4.4 alias KitKat. I know Fairphone is depending on Mediathek and Guohong for this, but we and fairphone should really keep the pressure on the manufacturers in this issue. My 2 cents.


Same for me, and I think also for the most other people.

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Main reason for me to get updates on Andoid is to get security issues fixed.
That’s what I expect by buying a mobile phone I going to use for for more than 2 years


Same here. I don’t really care whether I run Android 4.2 or 4.4 but I do hope the Fairphone OS updates will include as many security fixes as possible. It’s issues like these that I hope will get fixed in Fairphone OS, even though it’s an older version of Android.

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Having up-to-date version of Android is VERY important for security: every new version of Android brings in security patches that can be very important for the end-user.
Malware exploits known bugs and the new version of the OS fix those bugs.
Keeping the phone to an old version of the OS expose the users to a progressively growing number of vulnerabilities.
I wouldn’t keep an OS that is more than 6 months old (at that’s really an extreme limit).

New versions of Android also bring performances improvements.
That’s one of the big differences between JellyBean and Kitkat; Kitkat allows your phone to do more with its hardware… a very important point for sustainable phone :slight_smile:


So far, Android 4.2.2 is fine for me. It’s not an issue to deliver updates with security patches when needed on this version.
Going further with 4.4.x will make users more linked with google. Another (good) option would be to go along with custom ROMs, like CyanogenMod, to give the user the choice to go with google, if he wants, or keep away from “the giant”. But I know it is difficult, due to Mediatek’s policy.
I believe software is an important part of the “fairness” of the phone, but I’m confident that Fairphone will keep it’s software updated, in a way or another.

Great question @stojmas

Would be interested to hear whether people would prefer uptodate Android OS or would prefer an alternative open OS like Firefox or Cyanogenmod?

Hi Chris (@Chris_R),

yeah, that would be very interesting. Is there a way to start a poll with this forum software?



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Indeed, it’s crazy… the manufacturers create a culture of short-term satisfaction. Even if the product doesn’t actually become obsolescent, the consumer is encouraged to think that “old = bad”.

I don’t think there a compability issues, it is just the case the Mediatek has not supported the vendors with Android 4.4 for the chipset used in the Fairphone. There are rumors about KitKat for othere devices with MTK6589, but i have yet to see any proof of 4.4 running on any real device with that chipset. That is the biggest step towards 4.4.
If that happens, Guohong, the manufacturing partner and producer of the device the Fairphone is based on, will need to integrate all drivers for custom parts like camera, sensors, screen…and provide the update core to Fairphone. Integrating the Fairphone custom software is the smallest step i think, but still the Updater etc will need to be tested. It might even be the case that Fairphone needs to re-certify the Phone running such an updated software- i don’t know about that.
So there is a lot to do for Android 4.4 - and i doubt well will see that in the next weeks or months. But i think there still is a chance by the end of the year or so. I am certain that Fairphone will try make that possible – and i really think they should – if, but only if, Mediatek supports MTK 6889 for Kitkat.

There must be because @anon90052001 started one.

To conclude, i do not think there is so much pressure as @wolfigor, but i would appreciate if Fairphone and other manufactures as well as google and last but not least, us the customers, keep the pressure high on Mediatek. I for example regulary nag them on twitter.

For now 4.2 is fine and think it will be for a while, looking at the Android Platform distribution numbers from #Google: (Distribution dashboard  |  Platform  |  Android Developers).

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@stojmas I’ve asked Joe if FP would like to do a poll on this to understand the community expectations/wishes. We’ll see… :smile:

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You can create a poll by making a new thread titled “Poll: BLANK” then each option in the body text should get a hyphen -

  • Option 1
  • Option 2

That’s it! I’m totally open for you all to make your own poll about Android vs alternatives, though I’m more interested to know the “why” too. Of course, hard numbers will help us for community feedback too :smile:

Another nice function of this platform is that you can press “Reply as a new Topic” beside a comment and it will jump to a new thread. Maybe you want to do that for a new poll based on this thread.


Thanks @Joe - I’ll create a poll from this thread:-)

Poll: Future Fairphone OS Development

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I am most definitely in the “it should have the most recent Android version within a reasonable delay” camp (meaning Fairphone is already overdue for 4.4 KitKat). Basically for 2 reasons:

  1. Security: any list of security advices will include: make sure you keep all your software (OS + apps) up to date. You make sure you install all updates (for Windows, Linux, …) on your desktop PC, don’t you ? There is no equivalent of “Windows Update” for Android, but major security fixes are included by Google/AOSP in every new Android version and smartphone vendors should distribute the new version within a few months to their customers who recently bought a smartphone from them. Most companies would define “recent” as 1-2 years, but given its aim of sustainability it should be longer for Fairphones. It’s good that Fairphone provides individual security fixes (like the one for the “SMS =” bug) in software updates apart from Android upgrades, but they are no substition for the problems that Google/AOSP has solved in the main Android development line. It’s like a PC vendor would say: “It’s OK for you to keep running Windows XP, but we’ll provide some hotfixes for driver issues now and then”. The fact that some users may like/want to keep working on Windows XP is irrelevant - security should not be bargained with. Which makes the “your opinion” in the OP also irrelevant, imho.

  2. Technological advancement. Not for the sake of having the most recent version per se, but for the possibilities that it allows. Just as an example: I have ordered a (very useful) gadget that uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to interact with a smartphone. The FP1 includes a BT LE radio, so hardware-wise I’m ready to go. However, BT LE is only supported in Android 4.3 and up. So right now, I couldn’t use that gadget simply because of the already outdated OS. I’m hoping Fairphone will have a KitKat update by the time my gadget ships (November or so). This just to illustrate that it isn’t simply abstract, it can be something really practical as well.


I understand your point, and it would be right when talking about hardware (like some people only wanting the very latest iPhone). But this is about software, and then “old” really IS bad because “old” means having security flaws for which there are “new” fixes available. That has nothing to do with short-term satisfaction but instead with good maintenance practices in the digital age. (cfr. my other post below)

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