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
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:
rebuild existing phone with LineageOS. Monetary cost: low
Environmental cost: low
Time cost: high
Useability cost: medium
Expected life: 6-12 months
buy 2nd hand FP2
Monetary cost: medium
Environmental cost: low-medium
Time cost: medium
Useability cost: low
Expected life: 18-24 months
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.
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.
My fear is not that I won’t have good options for what to do next.
My fear is that without warning of when FP3 is coming, I will choose something like my “Option 3” above just months before the FP3 comes. And then 3 or 4 years later I may find myself back where I am now, facing the same choices.
My fear is that the stars will never align, and I will never buy a FairPhone from FairPhone.
You are right, there are risks for them in talking about timelines. But they also deserve to understand how their potential users are thinking, and understand what would help us get on board.
It’s a pitty, but life is what it is and choices and uncertainty are part of it. Take it easy, don’t take so serious your fears and perfectionism and live free!
And jump on LineageOS or get a second-hand FP2, gosh, any of those options will last more than 18 months. Problems jumping on LOS on a non-Fairphone phone? Ask here. We are a community around all-things fair, not just Fairphone —we are open to help you revive your phone! (I’ve just bought a motherboard replacement for my pre-FP2 old & broken Nexus 4, some people like @Stefan are FP1-survivors and other not-FP-owners-anymore are still participating here!)
I was taught this phenomenon is properly called “entropy” or information-distortion.
I believe our human language is still too far away from being perfect and precise.
Anyway I knew in advance what I would get when ordering my FP2 as I contacted FP a few times in advance to gather some information before putting money into the fund. Their answer considering modularity and upgrading was:
Sorry, I also followed the FP2 story from a very early stage backer 9.601 from 15.000 but cannot recall any statement or video clearly promising upgrades.
There were possible options pointed out at best and I never took them as promises.
Same here. I also know people who got them self a pocket camera after having had smartphones with a proper camera. For a quick glance on the tiny display or a screen pictures taken with phone cameras may suffice. But zoom in to see details - then you will realize what you have paid for. With more MPs it´s just as with higher clock speed of computers - a higher value does not automatically mean all is better.
I understand your fears of course.
It just always happens - with computers even more so - that the thing you buy today is outdated tomorrow. It’s a risk you have to decide on your own if you wanna take it.
As to giving a timeline.
You would also need some information what the FP3 would be like (sizewise and featurewise), otherwise it might happen, you have waited and the FP2 still suits you better.
If they give that timeline in advance, it might have a negative impact on business, as customers like you don’t buy a phone but decide to wait. As a result they could end up with a bunch of FP2 they did not sell and a big loss they have to cover.
The second bullet point might be even more severe, if my first bullet-point turns into reality and the FP3 is not what those people have been waiting for. They hardly will then buy a FP2, it being even more “outdated”; instead they might be lost for Fairphone for the next years or even altogether.
Honestly, I suspect the main hardware upgrade that the FP2 needs to last longer is more RAM at this point. It has 1.8 GB of it. If I go to the semi-hidden Developer Options and check running services, between 700-750 MB is always in use by the system (the regular memory setting suggests this is 1.1 GB, but that is a misleading number because it includes cached processes). So we basically have 1 GB left.
Most app makers seem to be lazy when it comes to efficient resource usage, and/or only target recent smartphones. There seems to be a ton of swapping in and out of memory going on with a loss of app state.
Heck, forget about apps: most websites these days are so memory-intensive that switching between Firefox tabs causes reloads, because it so aggressively unloads inactive tabs (and I’m already using uBlock and uMatrix to avoid loading/running crap that I don’t need).
(also, it only takes a few persistent background apps to really start eating into that memory budget: use an alternative keyboard and launcher and that’s another 100-150 MB gone).
I agree to your points related to lazy programmers and inefficiency. But this movement cannot be held up but will be even supported if hardware resources are extended accordingly with each model iteration. Such things were better in the 8/16 bit computer era.
There are phones out there keeping 8GB of ram. Many conventional computers out there don´t even keep that much (even my old rag still runs well with only 2GB non-swapping).
But how much actually is sufficient? Gamers never have enough, but this market is recourse hungry anyway, so not to be combined with anything called “fair” or environmentally friendly.
For every day usage 2-3GB should fully suffice imho. I keep about 80 apps installed. I once started as many as I could but never met troubles running out of memory. And the phone kept its performance. Although these devices more and more turn into complex pocket computers still they are phones. As long as I cannot use it to the fullest extend like normal computers with multi-display etc. everything is limited to only 1 active task and the rest is based on simple task/screen switching.
I am not quite sure how the Android memory management works in detail as there is no swap memory option available as Linux and other OSs offer for conventional computers. So my guess is too that there must be a lot of memory shifting going on in the background.
Up to now I also never have heard of someone replacing his phone because permanently running out of system memory, but maybe of storage as apps also grow and having a sd card slot for memory extension is not a standard and probably will stay a limited option because whoever wants to force the usage of cloud services to make even more money with user data.
@Patrick1: Hey, don’t get me wrong: I agree with you that this shouldn’t be necessary. But Wirth’s Law has been known since the early nineties and it’s still a thing anyway .
Honestly, if I wasn’t a programmer myself who really intensively uses the browser I wouldn’t complain. While I can only hope that Firefox will get slimmer as Project Quantum progresses, that doesn’t help me much with the badly designed websites out there.
And the problem isn’t the speed, it’s that the swapping completely unloads apps, meaning that switching between them can restart apps. I’ve lost Google Maps routes halfway, having to type them in again, because I switched to the browser. I have to reload tabs on a bad connection in Firefox because I switch to a chat app. That kind of thing.
@Stefan: The thing is, this is not about us about being able to deal with it. This is about being able to convince people who are on the fence, who are only semi-willing to take a step back.
It’s like being a vegan for the sake of sustainability: great if someone who does this manages to do so, but making it easier to become a “flexitarian” who only eats meat on Friday will make it easier for the people who have trouble giving up eating meat every day, which is still a net win in sustainability (and an easier entrance into a no-meat diet). Telling them “well I’m managing to go full vegan” isn’t helping anyone.
Ideally, putting more RAM in newly bought Fairphones should also not put significantly more pressure on the resources that go into producing the modules - miniaturisation is a thing, and technology has changed in the last few years as well. The added costs would mainly be the RAM being more expensive, and developing the module - the latter of which may be significant, but still cheaper than developing a completely new phone.
Ok, I got your point here. Such a system behavior surely spoils the user experience.
But it is hardly possible to estimate how much ram would suffice for everyone’s personal need. Delivering more ram again will induce many (bad) programmers and some users as well to make use of this grown recourse getting used of it taking it as their minimum base.
It´s just a matter of time when this limit will be reached again and individuals start to complain again in need of more. I rather think there also should come some regulations (again) just as we have them with power consumption of some goods.
The software market is quite open and freely accessible for software developers or someone wanting to become one. It does not seem to have regulations about well programmed software and bad inefficient software wasting amounts of resources. Sales numbers and user experience/feedback seem to have a slight influence at best.
I think that´s something were more regulations or standards should be introduced.
So if that´s Androids mechanism of memory management although being based on Linux I again have to repeat my opinion about Googles approach for this mobile OS being put together in a quick and thirty way.
For conventional computers I know mechanisms called memory allocation (table), stack etc. So instead of informing the user he´s running “out of memory” it seems to silently close apps without bothering the user.
This would satisfy your needs and some others may feel better with it. But many expectations for the FP3 rather lie on a more state-of-the-art SoC design and a lower price anyway. just one statement from a potential customer
Probably both conditions cannot be met with only one design. So this crux is to be solved by FP.
Upgradeable memory is possible since the early computer ages in 1980 (even my C-16 has reveiced one then). It´s still possible today, but some manufacturers of notebook mainboards has started to develop them with fixed soldered memory chips not upgradeable or replaceable easily anymore. https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apollo-lake-super-thin-laptops-may-sport-soldered-memory/
It was a good thing to do so in the past to catch up with increasing demands, but the trend seems to shift. Maybe FP manages to be the first manufacturer having a mobile with upgradeable ram.
Btw. Entertaining and informative speech of Dan Ariely.
That´s also an important point you mention. Just as with many computer users these days many don´t even know yet the difference between ram and storage memory. I think having such a far spread technology at hand, (and there are more around than human beings living) I should expect a minimum knowledge of what the users are actually dealing with every day.
If I watch young people quickly swiping and typing as wild on their display often knowing fairly well about the installed software, camera, display etc. I do wonder how come many give up quickly and drop their beloved handset for a new one if it does not operate that smooth anymore as they know it from the first day.
It´s not about each user needing to be a techie, but since handsets usually are not for free but paid for, users should at least know the minimum specs of it which I think should be the difference of installed system ram and storage capacity beside a few others.
Also salesmen should be trained better. Of what I have heard in the past from friends being advised by salesmen I wonder if there was anyone in charge of the sales department. That way customers may have to rely on their own experience or maybe listen to friends, colleagues who only can share their knowledge which may be deep or also just basic.
There are other channels to gather more information but they not necessarily go too deep into details and may already expect the reader to have a minimum level of knowledge.
I really support these decisions and the upgrade plan What’s the best way we can follow progress and get involved in the development on the upgrade?
As a Fairphoner and developer, and finding it hard to track down all the open source material like the repositories of the Open Fairphone OS and the issue/bug/feature ticket tracking for those projects. Maybe they aren’t open? It would be nice to put a link to where all this stuff lives in the footer of the main site
I don’t know if the developers have an additional issue tracking system.
Cool I’d be interested to know what Fairphone’s aims are around the transparency and community involvement in the development process. This isn’t a criticism, I’m just trying to express the questions that come into my head so that the organisation can get an idea of the interests and responses of customers/users/community members