There are some carrier-specific variants of Pixel phones that either require information from the carrier to unlock, or can’t be unlocked, especially in the US with Verizon. But this is a carrier restriction, not a manufacturer one, and isn’t, as far as I know, ever present on non-carrier-specific phones purchased directly from Google. Unless I’m very confused in both every source I’ve found, and my own personal experiences, Pixel phones do not generally require an IMEI registration process or OEM unlock code, and Google did not implement bootloader unlocking to require this. Yet an FP4, purchased directly from Fairphone, does.
Unless Google is anti-competitively imposing different requirements on phones they don’t make, Fairphone is choosing to impose this requirement, while at the same time marketing its phones as particularly open. It is particularly disheartening that when this is brought up, it is justified on this forum with the suggestion that it is a Google requirement and that Google’s phones require it, when they do not. These justifications, and Fairphone’s failure to intervene on these forums to clarify these matters, leaving the community to damaging speculation, just make Fairphone’s reputation seem worse.
Well - so far I have not seen any Android based phone which does not require an unlock code - and I know Sony, Samsung, Xiaomi, HTC, Motorola and LG. This led to the wrong assumption that this is alway the case since fastboot itself has this ability to process an OEM unlock code and I did not expect that Google would implement something to fastboot if it is not needed.
After thinking about this, I come to the conclusion, that the requirement of an unlock code may be a measure to make handling warranty cases easier.
Imagine someone unlocked the bootloader and managed to brick the device by trying to downgrade the installed Android version. There is a clear warning about that (https://support.fairphone.com/hc/en-us/articles/10492476238865 - If you install an OS with an older security patch level than your previous OS, Android’s roll-back protection might brick your device when locking the bootloader!), but hey - people tend to ignore warnings.
Now that person contacts the Fairphone support and asks for a warranty replacement since the phone is still within the warranty period but does not turn on properly any longer. Now Fairphone will ask for the device IMEI to know if the phone is still in the warranty period - since the IMEI is also connected to a manufacturing date, this is the easiest way to do such a check. Fairphone will now also see if the IMEI was ever registered to generate an unlock code and may tell the user, that if the phone does not work any longer due to a downgrade attempt, the user may have to pay for the core module replacement or the work needed to unbrick the core module again.
Without the unlock code Fairphone would have very little chance to check what exactly happened if the device is just bricked.
Of course Fairphone could just accept any warranty request and assume that even bricked devices are just unfortunate failures. But on the other hand Fairphone is not a huge company which sells millions of units, so they may need to make sure that they replace units which are really defective and not just bricked.
Besides that you also have to provide the IMEI to get extended warranty anyway and also asking for the IMEI to get a bootloader unlock code does not look that bad to me. You still can unlock the device for free and Fairphone offers to use alternative systems as well and provides sources for the FP4 kernel at Open Source at Fairphone — FAIRPHONE open source documentation
Despite that, since they only provide a website which has to communicate with an internal server to receive the unlock code, rather than a self-contained website, PWA, Electron application or other local software, if every Fairphone’s unlock site becomes unavailable, the smartphone’s bootloader becomes impossible to unlock. That’s abysmal for a company that prides itself upon repairability.
What do you mean with “self-contained website”? The whole idea of using an unlock code is to store that on a server.
And besides that: if Fairphone does stop to exist ever and you don’t get spare parts for repair, the whole idea of repairability does stop to exist as well. How likely is it, that Fairphone as a company will continue to exist and provide spare parts for repairs but stop providing a web server to get unlock codes?
As technologies such as Microsoft HTML Application (.hta) and Electron demonstrate, but also inherently, “webpages” don’t need to be served by a server, depending upon how they’re programmed. I’ve been sent “applications” in the past that are just a zip file of .html and .js files.
A website can be local software. Its technologies do not depend upon an internet connection.
Well, then the code calculation is also offline and having an unlock code at all makes no sense then. Asking for that is no different to ask for not requiring a code at all.
Edit: Yes, I know, what “self-contained” means - I’ve been working in the IT industry as software developer for more than 30 years.
My point was: it is on a sever because the procedure how to get the code based on the IMEI should not be public - because if you do that, you can just give up the whole procedure all together and just allow unlocking without any code.
No, not really. This would be in about another decades and I don’t think that anyone will like to use a 10 or 20 year old device where you can’t get drivers or which does not support the mobile network or WiFi standards of 2040 or whenever this might happen.
Just unlocking the bootloader does not mean that you also get a OS which supports the device. How many people still use the FP2 today? How many will do so in 5 years?
@askaaron, you’d be really surprised. Really surprised. I seem to come across them online frequently on this forum, perhaps because the #fp2 is the last with a public bugtracker and FPOS Open.
Despite that, however, I don’t believe that what you’ve stated refutes what you quote from me. Additionally, we know that it is currently done better by Google anyway, so I don’t believe that there’s much to defend.
I was happy with Fairphone 4 when I got it new with Android 11. And now my great device is really just a construction site. Nothing works properly anymore. I can’t listen to music properly, the launcher just looks broken, I recently got Ghost Touch. It is felt that all “smaller” manufacturers patch their devices broken. The wife and child have an A53 and A52s that just run smoothly. And my Fairphone 4 cost more than both together… how am I supposed to be happy with it in this condition?
I’m very satisfied. My previous phone was a fp2, which was very unstable, both hardware and software. I’m a ‘light’ user, i.e. I am not technically skilled. There seems to be a lot of discussion here about the phone’s specifications.
To me it seems logical that the specs for the fp are less than a ‘normal’ phone in the same price range. You pay for sustainability and fair trade. With state of the art hardware, the phone would become way too expensive for people like me (as a hospital worker). So I’m happy.
The only problems I have with my phone started just recently, after installing bitdefender antivirus and vpn suite. Feels like bitdefender slows down and sometimes screws up the system. For the rest it works just like any other Android device.