MHL and USB3 are two technologies I would very much like in a 2016 smartphone, both of which are lacking from the Fairphone 2. Fair enough, can’t have it all. But modularity is supposed to make the phone somewhat future-proof, so… what are the chances of adding either or both of these to the USB module?
With MHL, what I know comes from my very disappointing Meizu MX4 Ubuntu edition. The core chipset supports MHL, which led to me finding some misleading spec sheets before buying. But you also need a “bridge chip” between the core and the connector, and that is usually not included for cost reasons. So the question is, is the USB module just a straight-through connector to the USB pins on the core module, or are there enough additional connectors to add an MHL bridge chip? MHL is a gimmick to most people, but for Ubuntu Touch it’s a core selling point, allowing you to use your phone as a desktop computer. (Or it will be, once they actually getting around to implementing that…)
Normally USB 3 would need to be implemented in the core module. But I wonder if a clever enough piece of silicon could act like an internal hub, providing many of the cool features of USB 3, just not any of the speed gains.
Here’s a nice picture of the part. Can’t see a lot of silicon there. Looks straight-through to me.
I’ve moved the topic into the roadmap category, where most of the module upgrade discussion is currently taking place. Regarding USB type C, I suggest adding to the USB-C discussion here, rather than continuing about that in this topic.
MHL and adding chippery to the module, rather than just switching out the port, hasn’t been discussed specifically. I’m not familiar enough with the SoC and/or requirements for bridge chips and pin layouts to comment, but perhaps someone else can.
I originally bought this DisplayLink-capable “mobile docking station” for my work laptop, and found out that it supports Android phones, too, including FP2. So I installed DisplayLink Desktop app and got myself a USB-OTG cable, and BOOM - I can now have HDMI output, and even better, when I plug my Logitech Unifying receiver in it, also a keyboard and a mouse!
So, could DisplayLink replace MHL in your use cases? In my case, it really did, and more!
It’s your standard 3,5mm audio cable, the other end depends on your device, but usually 2x RCA connectors are used for audio in. If your TV has DVI, you probably could use analog audio input at the same time… I had to plug audio straight to my home theater.