Keeping your phone longer with a refresh on the inside and out

I do think that Fairphone should be up to comparisons. It operates in a niche market, but it’s still the market after all. If you compare parameters that usually aren’t taken into account (social responsibility, environmental impact, longevity, repairability, provision of (security) updates), FP2 outperforms the market.


Yes I partially do agree.

So talking about being “fair” - all parameters for comparison should then be taken into account as some of them steadily rise in priority. But that way I am worried if any other manufacturer than FP could reach the top position.

For me the lifetime of a device starts when it comes out of the box or when it is officially discontinued, whatever comes first… Since the FP2 is still the newest model and still being sold officially those 5 years should be counted from the day of purchase… IMHO


I - partially - agree with you there.
It depends on what you consider as “lifespan”.

  • The phone working for five years?
    I expect that to be the case with the FP2 you are buying now or as long as it’s officially sold. Obviously that will not be true for every individual phone, as defective devices happen all the time when it comes to electronics and anyway.
    That of course does not mean, Fairphone will be able to supply (all) spare parts for five years after discontinuation, though I expect they really will aim for that goal.
    Yet, there might be a module with a drop-out rate after 2 or 3 yers much higher than expected. Should that part be unavailable after 3 to 4 years, they would need to produce a new batch of this module, which might not be sustainable or feasible at that time (finding a manufacturer / minimum of devices to be produced / number of devices expected to be needed / price tag and expected willingness of users to pay it for a then old phone / …)

  • The phone being supported and supplied with security updates?
    I am convinced, that Fairphone will do everything they are able to keep support going. I just guess, that can hardly be guaranteed by them, as it depends on vital external players like Google and Qualcomm as well. And then there will be UbuntuTouch and LineageOS to go on.

So me, I am really expecting to have a still working phone in five years (though mine is three years old already); it just may not be receiving security updates any longer.


My definition of lifespan is that the phone can be used during that time as expected at the time of purchase. That means:

  1. the Hardware should last at least that long after unboxing the device.
  2. the Software should allow the installation of most Apps which means “Devices Android Version” >= “Current Android Version” -3 or 4 (According to my experience)

I don’t expect updates for the whole time I use the device, but about 2 years after the end of sale of the model (or the availability of a newer model). That way the phones won’t become obsolete caused by the software while the hardware is still fine… (which is one of the aims of Fairphone ;-))


Remember that Fairphone made a deal with Mediatek to get the source code of the FP1’s SoC and worked hard to update it to Android 4.4, all of this after the phone was no longer sold (they finally developed a 4.4.2 alpha, all working fine but the Bluetooth had instabilities because of Bluetooth LE, so they couldn’t release it as stable, although most people in this forum use it as a daily driver).

Based on this experience, and knowing that Snapdragon SoCs are more open —source is published at CodeAurora.org by Qualcomm themselves—, some of us probably expect Fairphone to support the FP2 after its commercial life with security updates for Nougat —as long as they humanly can—, and until Qualcomm stops shipping code updates. That could make 5 years into nearly 6 (security updates only), which is three times (!) the industry standard (Google Nexus/Pixel phones and Android One).

Fairphone could be critisized for some things (I strongly did it for some time), but not for abandoning their phone models, gosh. Learn about how mobile OSes have been designed for obsolescence and then look at how Fairphone is fighting against a quite big industry.


I was not an FP1 owner, but I am starting to realise that the implicit promise of hardware upgrades to keep the phone up to date is just not going to materialise… given that you’re even mentioning “FP3”!! :frowning:
Faster processor, more RAM… would I be throwing away an FP2 to get an FP3 if I need these upgrades? With this phone’s modularity it just makes absolutely no sense from the “fair-consumer” point of view.

You’re a bit harsh there, aren’t you?
Not everyone needs a faster processor with more RAM, but maybe loves the option of getting a better camera.
Besides the “I want better hardware” point of view, modularity has it’s benefits in case of defects, as it lets the “fair consumer” repair the phone himself or at all (https://www.ifixit.com/Search?query=fairphone). While with other brands phones get thrown away for broken speakers or displays, with Fairphone you simply order the neccessary module online, take a Phillips #0 screwdriver (if any tool) and fix it on your own.

I am no techie; but as far as I got it from reading in this forum, problem with phones is, that the SoC integrates lots of functions, that it is not possible to just switch it like maybe a CPU in your laptop. And then there is the matter of so called “blobs” whatever they are, that are specific for a SoC (please correct me if I’m wrong) and that caus trouble.
But there are much more able users in this forum to elaborate on this (and maybe explain, why I just posted total crap; though I really hope I didn’t :wink: )


The FP2 was designed as a modular system to prove that device can be built with repairing and recycling in mind. The fact that there was a module refresh already to me is just a bonus on top of their original goal.
Needing and wanting a hardware upgrade are two different things, and I’ve personally found that for phones the distinction between the two often isn’t to be found in the actual hardware. I still don’t objectively need different hardware than that provided in the form of my FP1, though I find myself coming up with subjective reasons.


I was harsh indeed. I am in no doubt hardware upgrades come with multiple technical problems. Repairability is the main reason I bought this phone, but the implicit (may I even dare say explicit? Can’t remember now all the official videos I watched) promise of upgrade was always there.

Hm, it’s not that I needed a better camera than the one of my FP1, but I more and more get the feeling that the poor camera limits my work with the young people of our parish (and the Austrian Fairphoners btw. - this photo is awful). It’s just not possible to make a quick snapshot and have it look good (at least not without lengthy manual post-processing).

This might be subjective, but I could improve my work if I’d upgrade to a FP2. A company that sells good pictures would not stick to their FP1.

A blob is simply a binary large object - a file that’s comprised of 0’s and 1’s. A human cannot easily decipher such files and cannot figure out how it was made and what exactly it does. Further reading in the context of open source software:


Honestly, I don’t remember any promises of hardware upgrades. To me it was always more like a vague possiblity and a hope and desire expressed within the community. I remember Fairphone always being reserved about that, as they pointed out, that Fairphone is not about getting the latest stuff (even if its one module at the time), but about keeping things that are working as long as possible. Therefore it was a big surprise and great joy when they released the new camera-module (and lately the transparent cover).

But I give it, that much of what I said might be my interpretation of what’s been communicated. To others like you it might have sounded more like a promise of things to come. So there’s possibly no right or wrong on this behalf but just an example of communication-trouble.

I for myself often realize, that I don’t manage to get my message delivered as it was meant to be, but in a way that’s prone to misunderstanding; especially so, when using a foreign language. :wink:


In my opinion, for good pictures it is always adviseable to have a small compact camera at hand. Just considering the optics, they are obviously superior to phones (usually). I hardly ever use my phone for taking pictures.
Taking the photo you linked to, my judgement would be, that the quality is still ok for the simple purpose of documentation.

And I guess you meant “without lengthy processing” :wink:

Thanks, I corrected the sentence above. :slight_smile: Yes, that photo took me 15 minutes (several shots, processing one, not being satisfied by it and taking more shots). :upside_down_face: It’s surely fine for what I wanted to achieve (documentation), but it’s not a photo that I like to look at (advertisement).

1 Like

So now it´s out… and I am totally supporting this decision of FP.

With this decision they stay true to their initial statement:


Yes, now there comes the disappointed who were eagerly waiting for FP3 to arrive maybe pushing their decision for purchase. But I think this is not the way it should go on. Longevity also means not to have the top most recent piece of hardware at your hand as development always goes on leaving the present behind.
I wonder how many users always wanting the top most smartphone also keep all their remaining goods up to date. Notebook/Tablet may run the latest Windows but the hardware gets outdated within time too. Always the newest smartwatch on their wrist? The most advanced car in their garage? The best smart TV?
Oh, not? Hm, well why not - too expensive or is it maybe a form of provoking self-presentation?
I think there is still enough potential for FP2 to be advanced for a longer use.
If someone is out for the latest gimmick, may it be NFC or more power for running a desired game with the highest detail and frame rate it has to be a different device. It´s just a different platform but again software sells hardware just as plenty of conventional PCs were pumped out to get this vast gaming machinery going.
For more hardware FP2 still has its internal extension connector, so who knows what´s coming up in the future.

Now as Android 7 is in the make this should also catch some more attention from potential customers. I am sure there are critical “nerds” out there complaining about an outdated platform running Android 7.
Hence they are nerds with the option to purchase precisely any device that meets all their wishes. But many customers anyway wouldn´t know the difference between (let alone use) all capabilities of Android 6 and 7. It´s just a convincing sells argument like “The platform is three years old now, but it anyway runs the widely spread Android 7 OS”. Which as I believe would then let the phone look a lot more attractive all of a sudden. Specifically with this new “eye catcher” translucent back cover. :grin: I think this is still unique ?? Hopefully it will be made the default cover for purchase.

FP also has proven its capability to deliver regular updates, which many other big boys wouldn´t or just pretend to do see.

Although Android smartphones are not per se most secure as there is a lot of “sniffing” going on whether by Google apps or other apps being installed.
But this subject has drawn more attention to users in the past and is moving more into focus these days. So security in relation to FP looks much better compared to what many other manufacturers deliver, let alone for the period of time a device is on the market.

In second place some users still can choose out of a few alternative OSs to run if not wanting to stick with the one delivered (without loosing warranty) :wink:slight_smile:

Maybe this step brings an advantage for FP if wanting to release a FP3 in the future. Preventing FP2 with an older HW and (only Android 6) won´t rot in the shelves next to a modern FP3. As much as I could catch up a next Fairphone should fulfill a lower price expectation. So anyone who wants to have more still can decide for FP2. This could be a good way to go.

At last it´s all about making a difference to get attention.

I would say it still looks quite bright for FP2 for the future to come.


Congratulations Fairphone!
This is FP delivering on its promises, and that’s important for existing and potential users alike.

What’s missing, I think, is updated guidance on when new hardware will be available. The information in the blog makes it all but certain that someone purchasing FP2 now can’t expect to use it securely for 5 years from today. For those near the end of their current phone’s life, there are lots of possible options and pathways. The critical bit of information to evaluate those options, if FP is to be properly considered an option, is when FP3 will be available.

Okay, since I’m always annoyed if someone says something like “FP failed to deliver their promises” - to be fair - I have to speak up here too: FP never promised an upgrade. In fact, for the longest time everybody thought that an upgrade to Android 7 would be impossibe (because of G%§$e) and FP didn’t do anything to mitigate that fear.

Just like FP doesn’t promise any software upgrades until they know they can deliver, they don’t promise hardware prematurely either.

What makes you say that?

No it isn’t. A true fairphoner doesn’t care about new models and keeps their phone as long as it works sufficiently.


Let’s be careful with the term “true Fairphoner”… :wink:

@IainM If I understand you correctly, you are talking about potential buyers (“potential Fairphoners”). And yes, there is indeed a myriad of options, but potential buyers would probably put more emphasis on a socially and environmentally friendly phone, which in turn makes FP2 stand out from the options.

Ps: I myself am still using my FP1 because it is in very good condition.


No, they didn’t … As an explicit, atomic promise. But they did - via their values and objectives - promise long term support beyond the norm for their products - and necessarily entails OS updates. This OS upgrade is the one that distinguishes them from the pack. Up until this point, they only had equivalent updates to Samsung. This is the step that shows that you’re getting something different when you buy Fairphone.

The fact that the challenge of bringing FP2 up to Android Oreo or above is so clearly called out. I’m not saying they won’t do it, just that someone purchasing today shouldn’t expect it. Just as you highlight above, they’re not promising any updates. In this case, they’re not just steering clear of promising it, they’re saying that it is a huge technical challenge. Others may not rate security, but from where I sit, security is a central part of achieving good social outcomes.

That’s ok, I’m not a true Scotsman, either :wink:
I just don’t believe that buying a new phone that I only expect to last 2 years is the responsible thing to do, from a social and environmental perspective.
When I say there are a variety of options, I mean options to hang out until a handset with an acceptable lifespan becomes available, eg:

  1. rebuild existing phone with LineageOS. Monetary cost: low
    Environmental cost: low
    Time cost: high
    Useability cost: medium
    Expected life: 6-12 months
  2. buy 2nd hand FP2
    Monetary cost: medium
    Environmental cost: low-medium
    Time cost: medium
    Useability cost: low
    Expected life: 18-24 months
  3. buy 2nd hand non-FP Oreo-upgradable phone:
    Monetary cost: medium
    Environmental cost: medium
    Time cost: high
    Useability cost: low-medium
    Expected life: 24-48 months

I don’t expect watertight promises from FP, but updated timelines will help me help them above their aims.
I recognise that some disagree on my assessment of the expected life of FP2, and that’s legitimate. None of us has perfect knowledge and certainly none of us has perfect foresight. But please don’t assume that people waiting for FP3 are only doing so because of features, and aren’t “sufficiently” interested in social and environmental outcomes.


No, of course not. Holding on to your old phone until a new FP comes out that surely will last longer than a current FP bought now is THE socially responsible thing to do. :+1:

But being socially responsible is unfortunately not easy yet. You can’t expect a small company with limited funds to publish any kind of timeline for hardware upgrades, because even if they don’t promise anything they are always blamed for not meeting their “promises” and things go wrong all the time that you can only compensate for if you put in tons of money.

The good thing: You can still buy a second hand FP2 even 2 years from now shall your current phone break down then and the FP3 not be out by then.