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OS out-of-date and insecure

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f05d8b87b78>

Hi, I was happy with my Fairphone 2 and the upgrade to Android 7 at the end of last year.
However, I am still waiting for the fix according to the previous possibility to disable the individual SIM-cards, since this was one of the main reasons for me to buy the phone in the first place.
Another thing is: the may-update gave me the patch-level of april, but it is august now and the security-updates are already 4 months out-of-date!
I support the philosophy behind Fairphone and it is ok for me to pay a bit extra for that , but my phone is less than 2 years old and I am expecting a well-functioning and secure OS. This will have an impact on whether I decide to switch to a Fairphone 3 later on or not.
Can we get some clarity on this? Thank’s in advance.

While I’m not too worried about the unsteady stream of updates - it seems to be only a recent idea that OSes are unusable unless they get constant updates - I do agree with the SIM issue. It’s been a long while now and FP has not meaningfully responded, and per the bugtracker (where this has been one of the most upvoted bugs for goodness knows how long) no one has even been assigned to look into it. It really does break a fundamental part of the FP2’s functionality, and it needs to be fixed.

It would be great to get a definite update about this issue, but that bugtracker thread has been spammed half to hell and we’re no closer to knowing if anything is being done about this. The last response by someone in touch with the devs was

we are sorry for all the issues you had with your Fairphone, that’s also very unlucky. Our developers are working hard to improve the device and try to solve as many bugs as possible. Thank you all for supporting Fairphone.

which is hardly helpful.

All that having been said, this is a community forum that Fairphone employees don’t necessarily frequent, so this topic likely won’t do much in the way of getting us closer to squashing this bug. But even here, it’s good to speak out about these complaints every now and then.

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We should make a distinction between upgrades and updates. Upgrades (like from Android 6 to Android 7) will give more features. I am not expecting that during the whole lifetime of the phone.
However, updates (like from Android 7.x to Android 7.y) will keep your phone stable and secure. This is a very fundamental necessity, especially when devices are also used professionally.
I spent private money on a phone I am using both privately and professionally. Awareness in society about sustainability and IT security is growing and so it is within the company I work for.
My advise there is taken seriously, but in order for me to advise Fairphone (for potentially replacing a couple of hundreds of phones), the software-support has to improve.
This may be a community forum, but I would believe Fairphone takes an occasional look here and may take some things into consideration.

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At least some clarity is in the bugtracker.

“We do support dual SIM settings, the only thing missing is turning SIMs on/off if you have two SIMs mounted. We are aware that this is a regression from Android 6 for Fairphone 2. This feature is, however, not part of Android 6 or 7 itself, but rather a vendor-specific extension.”

And there’s the problem … the “vendor” in this is Qualcomm, and Qualcomm doesn’t support Android 7 on the (in the meantime EOLed) Snapdragon 801 chipset that powers the Fairphone 2.
So it seems Fairphone got hit by another industry modus operandi that needs tackling … too early End-Of-Lifes of integral parts preventing long-time support.

Fairphone nonetheless pulled off a Google-certified Android 7 on the Snapdragon 801, when nobody else did, but some things seem to be really tricky when they still have to use the non-open Qualcomm Android 6 drivers to operate the chipset under Android 7.

  • Blame Qualcomm’s EOL policy for the regression.
  • Blame Fairphone for the communication about this all, and perhaps lack of resources.
  • Switch to LineageOS, if timely Android security updates are a top priority for you (also see #lineageos, and be aware that LineageOS also isn’t able to switch off SIMs).
  • Downgrade to Android 6, if switching off SIMs is a top priority for you.

Edit: Scrapped the Tasker reference, as someone tried this route and it didn’t work.

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The issue here is proprietary software being proprietary (SD801 firmware). It sucks that the SD801 went unsupported so quickly. Could Fairphone have known that beforehand? I don’t think so. They even went for a high-end SD in the 800 series. In the thread here Fairphone 3 specification speculation & leaks it seems the FP3 is going to likely have a (more common) 600 series SoC. But I am not sure how we can know beforehand how long Qualcomm is going to support that.

As an alternative to FPOS/Fairphone Open, you can install LineageOS 16 which is based on Android Pie 9. This gets new builds (including bugfixes) approx every week. However that could also introduce new regressions and bugs, as it is a rolling release.

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I am afraid having to tell you, using typical unmodified Android looks like not being the proper OS for your expectations on data security.

Maybe you feel like reading through a posting of mine in the past, specifically following the link about security updates (sorry only in German).

So you may be so kind and enlighten all of us with your positive experiences from your past with “other” smartphone manufacturers using Android and delivering monthly security updates for years for all of their models just as Fairphone could manage the last 5 years?

Naming one specific model out of billions that receives regular OS upgrades & security updates would be fully sufficient.
If still being available for purchase many security concerned users will surely put energy into getting their fingers on it.

Many thanks in advance.

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I do realize Fairphone is depending on their suppliers and they have reached a lot with a relatively limited amount of resources compared to the big brands.
That’s why I hope they will use our feedback while negotiating with their suppliers according to the production of the new Fairphone, but I also hope there will be improvements on the software for the Fairphone 2.
Thank’s for the advise on LineageOS. I may try that later on. Although companies have to be able to rely on official support and therefore I hope for better support throughout the whole supply-chain (including Qualcomm…).
I really wish for great efforts, like Fairphone is doing on social and environmental issues, to become more mainstream.

Patrick1: I am aware of other manufacturers using Android and having similar or bigger problems, but I am used to Apple having regular updates during 5 years after introduction while having a similar purchasing price.
Looking at competitors doing things worse doesn’t make things right. Looking forward to improve things is the way to go. That counts for every company.

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I agree.

It was not unintentional by me not mentioning this brand.
If security is of such high importance IOS is the way to go or regularly stick with the most recent Android handsets.
For private use an alternative OS e.g. LineageOS may work.

That’s exactly what Fairphone is doing within their potential.

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In spite of a few setbacks: Fairphone is absolutely doing great work!
That’s why I hope for proper software-support for my Fairphone 2 until late 2020. And then I’m probably going for the Fairphone 3 :slight_smile:

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