Why does Fairphone 2 come with an old Android, small storage, weak USB2?

I’m very happy to see a company with a humanistic and ecological approach. However from an economical perspective i would have some questions… But let’s head over to my questions…

  • Why an totally outdated and maybe again modified Android operating system and not the latest greatest stock Android which allows users to customize it with the gazillion of apps from the store and - more important - provides quick access to patches an fixes and therefore security< without binding resources at your company?

  • Why only 32 GByte or 64 GByte? It shouldn’t matter if you produce 32 GByte, 64 GByte or 256 GByte in a fair way. But the 256 GByte would last longer and would offer more possibilities to the users.

  • Why a weak USB 2 interface?

And just for my understanding: What’s actually fair at the fairphone? It uses a lot of slightly outdated standard components which most likely were not produced ecological and ethical clean.

Is it just a marketing gag or is there something i didn’t get?

Best regards,

BJ

A lot of these questions sound like they have been answered before, but for the record:

Because Qualcomm has so far refused to help out with supporting these versions of Android as they’ve seized developing the newer kernels required to pass Google’s certification for the SoC found inside the Fairphone 2. This is a battle that Fairphone is fighting as hard as they can, and the result is soon-to-be Android 7. For a three-year-old phone that’s unprecedented in the industry, so I’d recommend to also look at it on the bright side. :slight_smile:

Calling Android 7 totally outdated is a bit rich tbh. as Google is still very actively supporting it (and Android 6, and 5.1…). I’d be all in favour of newer, but today it won’t buy me anything yet. I suspect Android 7 will push the lifespan of the Fairphone 2 towards 5 years of a supported OS, which is pretty impressive.

Because a 256GiB eMMC sets you back €135 on Mouser, whereas 32GiB storage costs about €35. Even if bulk prices are more reasonable, the price of the phone would go up by €50-€75 for an amount of storage that not nearly everyone needs. And for those who do, there’s a μSD card reader to extend the storage Looks like you can buy a 256GiB μSD card for approximately €90, so essentially you have the choice this way. I’m ignoring the fact that Fairphone buys packages with RAM and eMMC in one die, and these might not exist in such configurations, certainly not if the constraint is that the RAM side of the chips has to remain equal in size, technology, speed and timing properties.

If you’re interested in the cost breakdown of the Fairphone 2, I’d recommend you to take a look here. It’s a little outdated, so potentially the cost of various components has been renegotiated, but the benefits of this could well be offset against hard-to-replace components that have been deprecated by the vendor and are only produced in smaller quantities against higher prices.

This is presumably dictated by the Qualcomm SoC chosen at the time of design. Back then this was the most modern option… and you don’t simply swap out an SoC in a phone for a newer one without significant redesign, testing and software engineering effort.

I think your shopping list would be very reasonable for a future Fairphone 3, because if you were to design a phone today to last for 5 years you want to address what you mentioned. The Fairphone 2 is a phone designed two years ago to last for 5 years (so three more!), and what you can (still) buy today is the result of that effort… plus an upgrade to the camera.

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That. A lot :slight_smile: .

You want to look up when the Fairphone 2 was introduced, you want to read up on it getting Android 7 soon and want to research how long Google will support that probably, you want to explain how 32 GB and a micro SD slot is small storage even nowadays, and you want to visit www.fairphone.com for your fairness questions.

And if there still are questions, the magnifying glass top right at the page is a search function, most of your points have been or still are being discussed at length in this forum.

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If you want an official answer, you will have to contact Fairphone support or read the blog:

Fairphone staff doesn’t read most of the posts here because the forum is community-led. :slight_smile:

So, some thoughts and opinions FMPOV:

  1. It’s more important to have security updates than feature upgrades. Fairphone has provided monthly security updates for over 2.5 years by now, which outperforms most of the smartphone industry. (Probably all Android smartphone manufacturers anyway because they all drop support after 2 years.)
    Besides, Fairphone 2 will be upgraded to Android 7 soon.
  2. Fairphone 2, unlike many phones, has a microSD slot for upgradeable storage. Theoretically you can extend the storage by even more than 256GB.
  3. It could of course be faster, but - thinking about it - since everything is in the cloud nowadays, it’s not top-priority for me. In many cases I access my phone’s storage via WiFi in my home network.

Have a look at the new Factsheet (pdf):


page 4

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Well, thanks for taking time for an answer and forgive, that I’be neither time nor motivation to read thousands of comments before… :wink:

When it comes to Android: One of the most epic fails and a still existing threat is the fragmentation in the Android universe. The reason is obviously on one side a lack of binding licensing terms to the manufacturers. On the other side the still ongoing idocracy to modify Android with vendor specific additions to create some kind of unique branding. But to be honest, I wouldn’t buy a Smartphone because of it’s wallpaper or launcher - i would buy it strictly by tech data, design and some other factors. Maybe, I’m alone with this… Having all these vendor bloat in the Play store and let customers choose would be very fine as it would make it much easier to reduce fragmentation and keeping devices secure. Even the older ones. And the vendors can still advertise with THEIR stuff - but in a different and more customer friendly way…

So I wouldn’t see it as an advantage. I see it as a massive threat. Also that you have to fight to get Android 7 to the phone. It’s a shame. But maybe not you’r fault.

Regarding the memory: You shouldn’t care about my money. But it would be nice if I could choose more memory, if I want. I purchase every 2-3 years a new smartphone, because I do not get updates for longer (the only reason) and I always purchase biggest memory available. Just because I USE my smartphone and I have made the experience that SD cards die much faster than build in memory. On the other hand: If I purchase a SD card it also costs me money… So don’t know what’s the point. My last phones had a high 3 digit price - far beyond 700 EUR. I don’t care about - for others a more affordable entry version maybe fine…

So we can come to another point:

Money is not the reason to buy a Fairphone. It’s the fairness. And this may cost a few bucks more. Really, I do not care if the overall package is fine. And if it guarantees that I can use it for 5 years (but than it mus be really top notch at the puchase time) than add additional 100 or 200 bucks and I’m fine with it, because it still saves me money on the long term.

And I’m sure that it would even more fair and ecological full of sense if the modularity will be taken to the next step - why not offering also modules with a new SoC and maybe a driver package? What about an module with more onboard memory? What about a better display…

That way you do not have to design all the time whole new smartphones but modules and this would mean less garbage and less wasted resources. I really know that this is written much more easie than it could be done - but it could be the first really big innovation in the market for about a decade. Especially if the overall design is fine and could be also changed with new cases…

Well, if you write it was designed two years ago, it might have been a nice and good choice at this time. But I’m sure you want to sell as much devices as possible - even if you do want to sell it to the same persons that often. So it is IMHO important to keep the specs up2date to ensure that even people finding you TODAY think it’s worth to consider buying a fairphone. This could be achieved if you take modularity to the next level and if you just always have the SoC and Memory modules separate from the “driver unit” - so it would be easy to reduce stock and keep the lineup on a high level…

The update to the camera is somehow nice. But to be honest, a SoC upgrade and a memory upgrade would be much nicer and would ensure longer usage - while you add some more revenue, which is important to keep you alive.

Dissatisfied existing customers would probably not buy again. And unimpressed potential new customers would also hardly buy a now outdated device with old Android and the knowledge that it might be unlikely to see Android 8 or 9 on it…

So maybe you have to jump into the jet pack, order a barrel of red bull and start designing the next generation of moldularity - this generation which doesn’t suck with ugly design and which allows you and the customers to keep the gear up2date if required…

Why throwing away a full smartphone if you’r satisfied with the screen, the case, the battery, the camera, but the memory doesn’t fit the needs for the camera or the SoC sucks with lagging or incompatibility to latest greatest Android…

Your post is a long read, so I won’t read it all now. You should take some time to read up on these things. It’s all been discussed before and there is no point in discussing things over and over again.

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Your post is a long read, so I won’t read it all now. You should take some time to read up on these things.

Well, I’ve to read thousands of posts to answer my questions. You - personally - were not asked. So it’s you’r choice. Maybe I’ve put my finger into the wound…

So farewell and good luck with your products. Yet they do not seem that fair and they are fairly outdated today. Maybe good two years ago - today they aren’t.

Short enough? Have a nice time… I’m sure you have found your customers. And it seems you’r not yet ready for new ones. May change in the future… Otherwise future could be limited for this company somehow…

I’ll clarify: There is no staff here. Community Mods are also not Fairphone staff.

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There are new customers frequently, as you could see in the forum if you would bother, which you don’t, but that’s totally ok. There is indeed a lot to read here.

One thing is for sure: Not everybody is in the target group. For any given phone.

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I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: from the very first post in this thread, I got the impression that your attitude to this discussion was merely seeking a confirmation of your assertion that “Fairphone isn’t fair”, rather than having an open debate about the pros and cons. I understand that you are critical about the project, and in a world where everyone seems to be stuck in echo chambers I sincerely welcome a critical voice, but the only way to learn from each other and move forward is by challenging both the status quo and your own presumptions.
Now I may be wrong, but so far I don’t really feel that you have studied the 9-page fact sheet that Stefan has posted. It’s marketing material, you’re entitled to be sceptical and dig deeper to study their claims. But if you had done that, I think we would have had a different discussion in this thread. One about what fairness means, and what it means to you.

If I may take the liberty of steering this discussion in that direction, I’m just going to flat out ask you: what is your definition of fair?
See, every smartphone manufacturer has something else on offer, a different mix of costs plus a target profit margin that add up to the total price. Apple and Samsung aim for the high end with specs and looks, Huawei and Wileyfox try and build something cheap for the masses. Fairphone is a little different. The price of the Fairphone 2 is determined not just by its parts (and being on the wrong side of the “economy of scale”), but also by the cost of getting precious metals from mines in conflict-free regions to better guarantee the safety of the miners. Plus the cost of having it manufactured in a factory that offers better working conditions for its employees (like 60 hour working weeks, rather than the more common 80-90, for an above-average wage with an additional fund for training or extra holidays. Not perfect, but better). They provide repairability through a modular design rather than ripping you off at their service stations as soon as your phone falls out of warranty. They strive for less waste by supporting the software of the phone as long as possible, requiring several highly skilled software engineers.
All of these things sound “fair” to me. Although… it’s apparently not 100% fair. Or well, that’s what they claim. Can some things be more fair than others, or is fair/unfair a binary label? The fact that you don’t consider the Fairphone “fair” makes me believe that maybe “fairness” is a subjective matter. It probably is, a 60 hour work-week doesn’t sound fair to someone in the Western world, but how does it sound to the factory workers in China? …Or maybe the phone is fair, but it simply doesn’t meet your demands. Perhaps you do care about the welfare of the people involved in the whole supply chain, but don’t prioritise it as much as the high end specs. Sounds like your definition of fair is heavily influenced by durability. Is it? So… what is fairness to you in the context of a smartphone?

As a… well, turns out not-so-closing remark, I think the conclusion that this phone is not the right choice for you is absolutely fine. The Fairphone as a product isn’t for everyone. It’s not priced competitively with phones with similar specs, because its that very competition that led to such poor working conditions far away. Two years ago it was an upper-mid-range phone, which today isn’t very impressive any more. But it tries to make a difference elsewhere. In the end it’s your choice what you spend your money on…

Oh, and perhaps to clarify a little misconception: Fairphone isn’t out to sell as many phones as possible, because lots of ways that achieve higher sales figures require a concession in sustainability. You know, things like planned obsolescence. This is a very tricky problem that Fairphone has to balance carefully. The market is shooting forward rapidly still, at a pace that two years along the line the product isn’t going to fulfil everyone’s desires any longer. That’s why Fairphone presumably aims for the ``consumer group’’ that is less worried about specs, because those who are would want to upgrade every ~two years anyway until progress in performance stagnates.

This bit is unfortunately technically impossible. Every SoC has a different pinout and different components on board. The chances of being able to create a universal interface for even two different SoCs (excluding the AllWinner A10 and A20, which are pin-compatible, but old, very low-end and not really suitable for smartphones) are close to none. Not to mention that the connections on replaceable modules are less reliable as those on a PCB. If your camera falls off the USB bus because you’ve shaken your phone too vigorously, that’s fine and it’ll reconnect. If your DRAM disappears for a cycle or two, your phone shits itself and reboots. Peripherals can be replaced easily, but for the core (SoC, DRAM, storage) this is infeasible. Double so within the tight size and weight constraints of a smartphone. Perhaps if the market quiets down, SoC designs will stabilise and might start using standard sockets like desktop/laptop CPUs do… but with the current market that’s unlikely to happen. And Fairphone certainly does not have the scale today to make such demands from an SoC vendor.

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Fairphone’s branding is almost non-existent. It’s certainly not the reason for delayed updates. Besides, Fairphone Software Support is excellent if you bought the Phone in 2015. I agree a phone sold today should have Android 8.1 and the guarantee to get P and beyond.

That’s nice, but also a tad bit ignorant. For many people fairness and money are both important. The FP2 is a quite expensive device for many people, myself included.

Yes are right, that would be ideal, and probably a good way to differentiate the price for FPs. However: Manufacturers like Apple or Samsung sell so much more devices, they can afford to have that product differentiation (and profit from it). For Fairphone, that overhead is probably simply to much: Imagine three devices with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. Imagine the 256GB has more RAM to. It does require the company to not order one type of memory/ram but three. It requires them to have three different packaging, keep three different models in stock, handle returns and repairs for three different models. You get the point?
I do agree that a Fairphone 3, designed today, (for example) should have 64 to 128GB storage.

It on the market since late 2015, it’s been designed many months earlier, I suspect. So that makes 3 - 4 years.

Many nice ideas here, but others already explained why this is harder as it seems. :wink:

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You have a micro SDXC card slot. So the limit is where card manufacturers put it. Fairphone has only tested up to 64 GBytes, so this what they guarantee. But actually it’s a standard SDXC slot, so it will support whatever is standards compliant. To my knowledge, at the moment there are cards up to 300 GBytes on the market.

Up to 200 GBytes have been tested positively by fellow Fairphone users. I myself just installed a SanDisk Ultra 128 GByte. Successfully. I bought the one that is sold as “up to 100 Mbit/s” (so it’s the fasted speed class).

There is an article about SD cards tested by users, there you will find precised article numbers. Yes, some card did not work, or needed additional configuration. Fairphone 2 does not support the file system that the SDXC standard lists as “mandatory”, which is Microsoft’s proprietary ExFAT. All cards abover 64 (or 32?) GByte come factory formatted with ExFAT, so the FP 2 declines them.

If you have Linux, format the SDXC card with Ext4 (which the FP2 does not support either, but it reacts more benevolant to it). After inserting into the FP2, format the card with the FP2, which createds FAT32 (usual warning: formatting of course erases all data that might be on the card).

In what respect do you regard USB2 to be weak?

USB2 can deliver more power by using the extensions several manufacturers have embraced, so does Fairphone. It does charge with more than 500 mA, even without the sophisticated USB power management of USB3.

USB2 is fast enough for an HDTV video stream in full broadcast quality. Only transferring entire filesystems is noticeably slower on USB2 that on USB3.

You cannot even make full use of the bandwidth of USB3, because flash memory usually isn’t fast enough. But you can circumvent this on the Fairphone by pulling the SDXC card and popping it into an USB3 card reader (make sure you have good onel. Most card readers out there are cheap, not fast…).

Read the extensive article about ethical production. This is the unique selling proposition of Fairphone. It isn’t perfect, but is as good as it gets, and no one even comes close to Fairphones fairness.

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You by all means can. Simply buy a 300 GByte SDXC card and you got 332 GBytes. I doubt that this could be called “too small”. After all, we are talking about a phone, not a SAN of a datacenter… :slight_smile:

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Wow, You all have taken so much time and effort to try and help someone I - to be honest - would classify as troll from post #1.
I really don’t expect any more anser form @BananaJoe (already the name to me seems a give-away on his/her intentions).
Nothing but provocation and really no intent to discuss some of the matters.
Best of all bananajoe is a spoiled brat (hey, i buy the most expansive phones every three years).

Sorry, for this completely wasted posting. I just was a bit p…d by the attitude of this person. So much more praise for all you, who were more open minded and really tried to engage.

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That was the first notion that came to my mind after having read his posts. Fairness can only be granted to him. Miners and workers who actually produce the phone with their very own hands are not worth being treated in a fair manner. Look how far our society of spoiled brats has come.

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I agree. Although our community is full of really kind people who gave him an oportunity expanding arguments and furthering truenews. :blue_heart:

Since we’re already a little offtopic here, I’ll take the oportunity to drop this podcast episode just here (transcription included):

For a healthier internet! :muscle:

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