Fairphone, the Dutch social enterprise dedicated to making consumer electronics (more) sustainable and ethical, including supporting repairability so users can hold on to their hardware longer, conducted public tests of Android 10 for the six-year-old Fairphone 2. has announced.
Fairphone today announced a beta rollout of the upgrade, saying that owners of the modular handset, which was first released in 2015, running Android 5, will need to upgrade to Android 10 (release date: 2019) in early 2022. should be expected to be able to.
Fairphone stopped producing (but not supporting) Fairphone 2 in 2018 – Fairphone 3 going to release (in 2019); Fairphone 3+ (in 2020; also available as a modular upgrade to 3K); And, earlier this fall, the Fairphone 4, its first 5G handset – which it said would be supported until at least 2025.
Given the Fairphone 2’s imminent update to Android 10 next year — which would mean it’ll be supported for a total of seven years — 2025 looks like a conservative estimate of how long Fairphone 4 owners will need to get software support. Should be expected.
Fairphone says it collaborated with its community of users for the Android 10 upgrade project — and with a software developer in India, Bharath Ravi Prakash, which it says worked as a volunteer open source dev – and by doing so says it was able to streamline the process and reduce the time needed to upgrade.
So while earlier Fairphone 2 OS update (for Android 9) used to take 18 months, this time the process has been limited to 10 months.
Meanwhile, Google has released Android 11 (2020) and Android 12 (last month) – to understand how far the Fairphone 2 upgrade lags behind the latest OS release.
“The company has learned a lot from the Android 9 upgrade and although still complex, Android 10 was more predictable than Android 9,” Fairphone noted in a press release that also quoted Agnes Crepett, head of software longevity and IT. Does, who writes: “Our unique approach to software has allowed us to help our users keep their devices for as long as possible. We look forward to being able to provide another software upgrade to our Fairphone 2 community.” Reaching our goal of providing at least five years of support for our phones from launch, and with the Android 10 upgrade, we go beyond that to seven years of support. Raising the bar for the industry, showing that it is possible to do things more sustainably in software.”
Seven years of support puts Fairphone in the Apple iPhone software support timespan. But of course the average Android-based handset can expect significantly fewer years of software love – typically Android smartphones only get three years of support. So this is a great achievement.
And while the Fairphone is only now catching up to Apple on the front of software longevity, it’s already ahead of Cupertino in another case: hardware stability through repairability through modular construction and direct-to-consumer spares. Parts offer.
Earlier this month Apple announced that, starting next year, it would launch a ‘self-service repair’ program – shipping spare parts and repair tools to iPhone and Mac users to make basic repairs at home.
It is by no means a complete idiosyncrasy from the company – historically – a hermetically sealed, stupidly thin, often loved literally Sticking shut box but it’s a small step in a more sustainable direction. And one that Fairphone has long pioneered.