Longevity vs Obsolescence (software)

At the occasion of FP2 launch event in Paris, I’ve been told that the longevity of FP2 would be about 3 to 5 years.
This is a great news, but as most of the phone parts are repairable, which one could turn obsolete after 3 or 5 years?
Many thanks in advance,

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At hardware level :
The camera will need a big jump to correspond to future (or even actual standard), but, according to this interview : Phoneandroid :interview with Olivier Hebert this upgrade is already planned , same for the usb plug (wich is currently type B) that will be upgradable to the brand new type-C plug (reversible connector yaaayyy) (same interview).

The processor will be surely 4-6 times less powerful than high end processors in 5 years (here is an interesting article comparing CPU power over time :PCworld , it shouldn’t be a problem at all for everyday use, but for gaming it will surely bottleneck ( even now, the Snapdragon 801 that equip the FP2 is not “top of the charts”), same for RAM , the 2 GB probably wont be enough for heavier multitasking and OS as applications are using more and more RAM :frowning: ( i would have personally preferred 3GB like other high end phones).
The main “problem” for the SoC ( the chip) is that there is little to no chance that an upgrade will be available (it depend greatly if Fairphone want to do a new phone, or just continue upgrading the FP2), so we 're “stucked” with it.
At software level :
The main problem with FP1 was that the SoC wasn’t popular and Mediatek (SoC producer) didn’t made libraries for Android 5.0, so the phone got stucked at android 4 , but the Snapdragon 801 is VERY popular, even among new phones (like One Plus X, here is the list : French wikipedia list ) , so their is chance that the libraries are going to be provided for future Android ( 6.0 libraries already out !).
Also, in the future, the FP2 will allow to use different OSs like sailfish ! :smile:


Hi @Alice, welcome to the forum! Why not introduce yourself here? :slight_smile:

I’ve moved your post to the Road Map category, as I think it fits here best.

I see two reasons for the FP2 becoming obsolete:

  1. Software support ceases. At some point the chipset manufacturer (in our case Qualcomm) just doesn’t provide appropriate updates anymore (as seen with the FP1). In consequence some apps won’t work anymore, if they get updated, etc. Also at some point it will become uneconomical for Fairphone to provide security patches (we can hope that the open source community can hop in and step into Fairphone’s place).
  2. Impossibility of producing spare parts in small quantities. Low prices live from high production quantities. As the years go by, demand for spare parts will become lower (because people get a new phone instead of investing into spare parts*). So in consequence Fairphone will not be able to produce spare parts anymore for a decent price.

So in conclusion: If spare parts are still available in 7 years, the phone will not be less usable (as in “use it as a phone” and not as in “use it as a gaming console”), but it might be less secure and some apps might refuse to work.

* the main board is 314 € and people will weigh up weather to buy a main board for an old phone or get a new phone)


In my opinion the order is like this: software, batteries**(see Stefan below), the SoC.

It’s always software support … and even if there is software for long time … newer software often wants a stronger chipset and later (just think of VR headsets) a more powerful display/graphics cards.

It’s also easy to repair well designed non-modular phones, if you have the tools and spare parts. Modular design is good, but a bit overrated sometimes.

As far as I know, the FP project builds the batteries custom fit. At least it was like this for the FP1.

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Yes and no, software sometimes also gets more efficient. If you look at Android, Android 4.4 was more resource-efficient than 4.0-4.3 and thus some devices were able to run previous versions could easily make the jump to 4.4. Also, Windows 10 runs more or less acceptable on hardware with just 1GB of RAM - try this on Vista!


I am not a fairphone owner. One major reason for that is because if I’m going to pay >500€ for a phone, I need to be sure that I’ll still be able to use it in 5 years. I could buy a very basic phone for that, but the point is to have a smartphone that allows me to access all the latest apps and technologies. The modularity kind of solved the issue of breaking the phone. But what about the software?

Quite often, the reason why new phones are bought is because the latest apps can’t be installed (because of software or hardware compatiblity) or because it’s getting too slow. What’s Fairphone’s approach on this? Geeking around the different parts of the phone to be able to install the latest Pokemon Go ~like app at all time?

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Hi, I moved your post here to keep related posts all in one place. :slight_smile:

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Thanks @Stefan !

What I see here is not very reassuring though… ! If I understood correctly, it’s basically “let’s hope that we chose a popular processor that will get software support and hardware manufacturing for as long as possible, but even then the phone’s software and hardware won’t be compatible with the latest apps”.

You should also follow the discussion here:

Like @z3ntu says, an Android 7 build without Google Apps pre-installed will still be possible. It would be practically the same as it is now with FP1, which receives an official update almost 3 years after the first phones have been shipped (and that’s with a much less developer friendly chipset = Mediatek).

What are your exact concerns? Which technologies do you fear you’ll miss?

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That’s it. Android is not developed on a rolling release model; it is developed, instead, on a version release model, more prone to planned obsolescence.

This means that, at some point in the year, Google releases the source code for Android, which needs to be adapted to the chipset by the chipset manufacturer (often called OEM; Qualcomm, in this case), and then adjusted to other components by the end-product maker (Fairphone, in this case).

So, before Fairphone, Google and the chipset maker impose their will in form of requisites and hardware limits, e.g: if Google drops support for ARMv7 devices (as they did with ARMv6 ones), Fairphone is screwed up; but if the chipset maker doesn’t adapt the new Android version to (what they consider) old chipsets, Fairphone is screwed up in the same manner.

(There are further issues Fairphone should resolve, but I tried to keep the explanation as simple as possible. You have a more in-deep explanation at the thread @Stefan linked)

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This HTC infographic Fairphone also references to here gives great insights into update processes.

To be independent from all these factors Fairphone would practically have to develop their own chipset and their own operating system.


No. This is only true if FP would stick with the bin blobs. If Fairphone would instead use an open chipset there is a high chance that some people from the community might develop the necessary drivers.

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If Fairphone would instead use an open chipset there is a high chance that some people from the community might develop the necessary drivers.

Are there already open chipsets?


Interesting discussion. Reading a lot of comments on the forum makes me think that some people are looking for a fair and ecological phone, that would be one of the best on the market and would hypothetically last forever. I wish for such a phone, but since I have been following Fairphone for quite some time, have read articles, reviews, forums, etc., I knew before buying my FP2 that I might have some issues (furthermore I installed FP open OS which is known to have some issues one can often easily fix with some good will and some valuable help on the forum).
Fairphone is a great concept. Something needed to be done. Great work with the mining part (even if there is more work to do), great thinking with the modular conception (even if we might have issues with some parts, as explained here), great support with the FP open OS (even if there still are issues and if we would like to have updates as soon as the problems are known :wink: ). There sure are problems, but most of us knew it before buying the phone.
Before my FP, I owned an old Samsung SIII someone gave me. It was 4 years old, slow (and no 4g) and did freeze quite often at the end. If you are patient, don’t rely on your phone for work and use it for easy tasks (call, write messages, take pictures ans some Internet), no doubt you will be able to keep your Fairphone 2 up to 5 years. As for the greater public, I think that Fairphone will reach maturity soon, but it takes times, tests and a trial period to achieve a great phone.


I agree to @kuleszdl although I have no overview about chipsets that are both powerfull and free and open for writing drivers. I noticed in the regular wikipedia entry about FP2 that FP has been criticized in public for their decision about qualcomm. Also I never heard about software named replicant as a possible substitute for android. Also with lollipop I would expect for FP2 to have a platform for free community for real open source software like replicant for my FP2.

Why? The FP1 had Mediatek, not Qualcomm.

And well, Replicant is just a “de-blobbed” version of CyanogenMod that contains really no Blobs. It runs on some quite dated devices (the best is the Samsung Galaxy S3) but without the Blobs it has no Wifi, no Bluetooth, no GPS, laggy 2D graphics and no 3D graphics. The first two can be overcome by using an USB-OTG cable and a wifi stick, but I doubt that’s a practical solution for most people.


I am not sure why you ask me after I only repeated an excerpt from wikipedia. I guess enough people discussed there about every single phrase. Maybe you ask them or you ask me again but more precisely. After I could even agree again to the rest of your answer I am not sure to do so again. Maybe you ask me again why I agreed :wink:

Well, personally I think it’s not a good idea to repeat stuff from sources which are obviously wrong. But apart from that - Wikipedia refers to the Replicant blog which is indeed cited wrong. In the blog entry, FP’s choice for Mediatek is critized - at least the way it’s cited with the 2013 timestamp. There is also criticism about the choice for the vendor of FP2 but only in a small comment which is from 2016.

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Although the first cite (14) in wiki’s paragraph is not 100% correct the next phrase in the same paragraph ‘Critics’ is cited 100% correctly about FP2’ qualcomm and not FP1’s mediathek (cite 15) So I am rather sure that it was a good idea from me to repeat things that are obviously not wrong due to a true follow-up phrase about FP2 and not FP1.

Obviously you don’t agree with wikipedia critics about FP2 in itself.

I didn’t say that, I’m just not a fan of citing things wrong (indeed 14 is cited wrong while 15 seems cited right). And it’s hard to say if the critics are right - of course I would have welcome an open platform. But the question still remains if there are any blob-free LTE modems our there.