Fairphone 3 Teardown(ifixit.com)
There is only one other phone from the last five years (that isn't also a Fairphone) that has a score better than an 8/10 on ifixit's 'repairability score'. Well done!
What about the software side? Fairphone 3 supports Android 9, Fairphone 2 supports Android 7. I see no use in a smartphone with replaceble hardware parts if I cannot install at least security patches for my phones OS on the long run.
Fairphone has had very solid software support. It is together with Nexus and Oneplus the hardware most enthusiasts choose, so there is a functioning community around it.
It is not only well supported in LineageOS, but also most alternative phone OSes such as UBports (Ubuntu Touch), Sailfish and postmarketOS have or have had people actively using the hardware.
It's quite a good track record considering the Fairphone 2 is already twice the age the minimum software update guarantee from Google for their own hardware.
Absolutely not. I don't download Windows updates from "enthusiasts" or "the community", and I don't consider community security patches to be "solid software support".
There's nothing wrong with LineageOS and I'm not criticizing their work. They do a great job keeping phones supported past the time when manufacturers have dropped support. But the Android community is far too willing to trust ROMs downloaded from forums that include who-knows-what and calling it "solid software support".
Solid software support is updates from the manufacturer, the company I originally trusted to provide updates when I bought the phone. If I have to rely on the work of people who once called themselves "Team Douche"  because the company who released the original software has stopped support, I'm not considering that "solid software support".
You don't download Windows updates from your laptop manufacturer either (unless you have a Surface.)
Comparing LineageOS with the custom ROMs on XDA really misrepresents their professionalism. LineageOS development does not take place on XDA. It takes place on their own infrastructure like any other high-quality open source operating system. Builds are made from public sources and signed by their build server (they definitely don't just include "who-knows-what.") They ship security patches faster than any manufacturer (except Google,) and I don't see any reason not to trust them as much as or more than your manufacturer. LOS-supported phones are well supported.
>You don't download Windows updates from your laptop manufacturer either
True, but that's a minor difference. The normal way to get Android OS updates is through your device manufacturer, like the normal way to get Windows updates is from Microsoft. The normal way to get Windows updates is not from a torrent found on some random forum, and that's not the normal way to get Android updates either.
>Comparing LineageOS with the custom ROMs on XDA really misrepresents their professionalism
I agree and that's why I said I'm not calling them out... but again they're not the normal way to get OS updates. It's out-of-band and while LineageOS may be professional, it's not professional to have to abandon the normal update mechanism just to continue to receive OS updates.
LineageOS is still community support, and community support is not "solid software support". It's community support.
What's normal shouldn't really matter. If anything, the "normal" way of receving Android updates from your manufacturer is kind of bad. I bet if laptops followed the same model, you'd see exactly the same things, like late security updates and devices losing support after two-three years. In general, I think I'd rather see my OS distributed by people who make software rather than people who make hardware.
> I agree and that's why I said I'm not calling them out
You kind of are. You've mentioned that you don't want to download OS updates from forums a number of times in response to people mentioning LineageOS, but official LOS ports are not distributed through forums (or torrents for that matter.) You also brought up an old, somewhat embarrassing name that their development team apparently used to call themselves. It seems a lot like you're trying to discredit them.
I'm not calling out Lineage as bad, I'm calling them out as unofficial community support, which I am saying is not "strong software support". Lineage is not distributed through forums but Lineage is a fork of CyanogenMod which got its start... being distributed through forums. From some random group of people who chose to use an embarrassing name. Lineage would not exist today if CyanogenMod hadn't been so popular. And the Android software update process was so broken that people had no choice but to download this software, distributed on a forum, from a group of people who willingly chose a wildly unprofessional name for themselves. Does that sound normal? Does that sound okay? Is any other OS distributed in this fashion?
I'm not trying to discredit Lineage. I'm trying to discredit the Android software update process. Lineage makes it better but it is not strong software support if you have to rely on the community to deliver out-of-band security updates.
Lineage is better than nothing, but only because the current Android update process is so broken. If Android was any other OS, getting updates from the hardware manufacturer or the community would both be laughed at. This process only seems normal on Android because the Android update process is so hopelessly broken because the original software vendor refuses to distribute their own updates.
But Debian images are from enthusiasts and the community. Also, your windows updates don't come from HP, and they often break things. Lineage isn't much different than most Linux distributions.
My guess is maybe you'd be happier with an iThing.
Conflating LineageOS with forum sourced ROMs is FUD, and the vast majority of servers are run on software from the efforts of the "the community".
>Conflating LineageOS with forum sourced ROMs is FUD
Nonsense. CyanogenMod started off as a forum-sourced ROM on XDA just like anything else . It may have grown beyond that, but only because people blindly trusted it and installed it on their phones 10 years ago, and XDA is still distributing hacked ROMs in the exact same fashion today.
You mean the community of companies that pay people to work on Linux? Most people working on it today aren't volunteers
I'd say a Fairphone is better supported than a Nexus (no experience with Oneplus). For example, the Nexus 5 is no longer supported, even by lineage (https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/hammerhead/), although they do say:
> A build guide is available for developers that would like to make private builds, or even restart official support.
Edit: I should add that although I've already ordered my Fairphone 3 I've not had a chance to actually test it out yet. If anyone is interested I can post a 25 EUR discount referral link?
I currently use the Oneplus One, ie the first phone they brought out, 5 years ago. It still has lineageOS support.
I'd be interested! Thinking of getting one even though I'm in the US, I've heard with tmobile you can get 3g which is aight
I'm not sure they are supported in the US but it looks like you are well aware of that.
The Nexus 5 is one of the best supported devices for running postmarketOS right now.
Does it receive real security updates (i.e. all the CVEs that are supposed to be fixed by that patch level are actually fixed), or "whatever we can reasonably fix" updates where e.g. the kernel is left on an outdated version without fixes because the fixes never got backported and upgrading the kernel is impossible due to limited support from e.g. the SoC vendor?
Is that really support throughout the stack? I understand they can provide userland updates, but kernel and driver updates? I’m not sure it’s possible for anyone apart from the chip manufacturer to do that, unless the drivers are open source.
That Fairphone 2 fully supports Android 9 officially on LineageOS: https://download.lineageos.org/FP2
Sure, but we are not talking about custom ROMs, but rather official support from the manufacturer.
That's like saying that you insist on using the Windows XP image that came with your laptop forever and will only update through the vendor rather than just installing the latest Ubuntu image.
We really need to stop giving a fuck about manufacturer images and demand that the industry ceases to lock bootloaders so we don't have to wait on them to update anything.
Unlocked bootloaders everywhere would be nice but there are already manufacturers that give you that across the range. The big issue is that none of the drivers are upstream so even with LineageOS you're stuck on and old and often unpatched kernel. When a new Android version comes around it's common for support to be dropped for devices. Right now there's no Ubuntu-like experience with Android. Get a Pixel or an Android One phone if you care at all about security and access to new Android versions.
> The big issue is that none of the drivers are upstream
Demand from the Linux kernel developers that the internal APIs for drivers are kept stable for a much longer time.
No, it's like saying I want to get Windows Updates from Microsoft and not some random person on a forum. It would be great if Google published a full Android release that worked on all phones and had the manufacturer's best experience in mind, but they don't. So the next closest thing, the company I choose to put my trust in, is the maker of the phone. The company who originally installed the OS in the first place.
I want updates from a company who can be held accountable. Not some random ROM from XDA.
FP2 still gets Android security patches - the main problem by now is that the drivers for the hardware are not properly updated to Android 7 (due to the manufacturer not providing any updates)
And that's better than even Google's own devices. Old Nexus models don't get patches any more.
In one way, but the comparably aged Nexus 5X at least got updated to Android 8.1 while the Fairphone 2 is still on 7.1
The Fairphone 2 can run Android 9 via LineageOS. The official versions (the one with and the one without OpenGapps) still get security updates. Can you say the same about Nexus 5X with Android 8.1?
I bought one of the second batches of the first Fairphone - I love the idea and the phone was great for a proof of concept, but it was disappointing to find it was never going to be upgraded beyond Android 4.4.
It kind of broke the promise of repairable, sustainable hardware if the chipset provider obsoleted the device through lack of updates in less than a year of ownership.
While 4.4 wasn't brilliant, I could have continued on with it - but I was uncomfortable using such an increasingly insecure OS.
This is great, especially since modern cell phones are not that revolutionary anymore and should be fairly static in terms of parts. In theory you should be able to upgrade your fairphone in a few years with new parts, like you can with a PC.
This is the 3rd version; their website doesn't list the previous two. Are parts still available? Can you fit the guts of the 3rd version into the shell of the 2nd?
I'm going to pay attention to this brand; it's very promising. But they still have a lot of work to do before its sustainable.
Yes, parts are still available at https://shop.fairphone.com/en/spare-parts
From the iFixit article:
>If you hope to upgrade your Fairphone 2 with these modules, we have bad news. Modules and their inner parts are not compatible. But their housings are said to be produced from 50% recycled polycarbonate, so there's at least some reuse!
> This is the 3rd version; their website doesn't list the previous two. Are parts still available? Can you fit the guts of the 3rd version into the shell of the 2nd?
I have no idea, I was just speculating that in theory it should be possible to create a base phone that can be upgraded continuously.
A problem that often isn't considered is firmware/drivers. In the smartphone world you often can't simply install a driver for your new 5G module, for example. I haven't seen a solution for this, yet.
The Librem 5 seems to potentially solve this. If it is an m.2 card and there are Linux drivers, then it can be upgraded.
This is the goal of the EOMA68 project, but for laptops.
> it should be possible to create a base phone that can be upgraded continuously.
Yes, that is exactly what we need to have happen.
It’s a nice theory, but the real world has the problem of component obsolescence. Basically the company must start redesigning parts with new components for old product while developing a new product. It’s ok in industrial settings, but I doubt anybody will do this in consumer space. DDR2 memory is already gone. Plus cellphone market cycles are extremely short.
That's not really the problem. I can take the ATX case that I used for a DDR2 Core 2 Duo and put a DDR4 Ryzen in there. I can use the same PC screen for as long as I'm satisfied with it even if it lasts through four generations of CPU and memory technology. And because they're fungible, there are scads of parts available for the old hardware even if nobody really makes it anymore, because a stick of DDR2 from an old HP Athlon II works fine in an old Dell Core 2 Duo, much less between two models from the same OEM.
So why not with phones too? All it would require is to standardize dimensions and power connectors for system boards etc. It doesn't even require absolute uniformity. You can have the equivalent of mATX, ATX, E-ATX, etc. for different size devices, as long as the board dimensions and connectors for a ~6" phone are the same as for another ~6" phone.
Cellphone is extremely space constrained device, ATX main board case isn’t really valid argument. I build last computer very long time ago, but I think, that motherboard for Core 2 Duo also requires different power supply connector than Ryzen. Basically only the case and monitor are common components for both. I don’t think, major players want to standardize components. This might cost more and add limitations.
It has been ATX12V/EPS12V since around the Pentium 4, which itself only added more 12V rails to the original ATX connector to supply more power. Moreover, ATX and ATX12V power supplies have the same dimensions, use the same mounting, and the original 20-pin ATX connector is still the same. The newer power supplies can generally be used on older system boards going back to the mid 1990s and many of them separate the 24-pin connector into 20+4 for exactly that reason.
It's not just the case and monitor. Drive bays have standard sizes and mounting (2.5", 3.5", 5.25"), the SATA connector has been the same since its introduction even though modern systems support higher speeds using it (and is also electrically compatible with the SAS connector and SAS HBAs typically support both), expansion cards have standard dimensions and use standard PCIe slots, etc.
They'll make breaking changes from time to time (e.g. PATA to SATA, PCI to PCIe), but it's typically a decade or more between them and then many systems will support both for years after that. PCIe was introduced in 2003 but you can still find new systems with 32-bit PCI slots, and SATA to PATA adapters are available.
If you want to you can build a PC with the latest CPU, install a SCSI HBA into it and connect that to a hard drive from the 1980s that will fit into the same drive bay as a modern 3.5" hard drive.
Granted there are more space constraints in a phone, but that doesn't mean you can't do it at all. And an iMac or Mac Mini is not ATX. There is no law requiring every device to follow every part of the standard if it's necessary to satisfy some other constraint. But a G5 iMac is basically slag; the contemporaneous ATX PC has half a dozen components that could plausibly be reused in a modern PC.
Hopefully we start to see some system-on-module (SoM) standards established soon.
DLT one (Damn Linux Tablet) is a project I recently discovered on Hackaday that’s taking this approach. One of the two SoMs being considered uses a SoC very similar to the one chosen for the Purism Librem 5. The other SoM is a Jetson Nano.
USB3 has enough bandwidth to support everything a phone can do, and then some. A CPU+memory shell with a USB3 component bus for everything else could work in principle. Then you can reuse your components if you upgrade the CPU shell, or upgrade individual components as needed.
I would love for that to work, but connectors take up space, and interop issues take up a lot of dev time. Just look at the enormous effort that goes into Lineage ports for hundreds of random devices— and those devices are all static, fixed configurations. How much worse would this be for thousands of permutations of off the shelf components?
As far as the physical side, how upgradeable is a typical laptop relative to a desktop? Some laptops let you upgrade the RAM, maybe the disk. But none offer processor, camera, speaker, keyboard, trackpad, internal wifi/bluetooth, or screen upgrades. PCMCIA is dead. There are hardly any removable batteries any more— and those that are do not have a standard interface or form factor.
So take all of those issues and shrink everything down by a further order of magnitude. It's not hard to see that making a phone with upgradeable internal components is a very tall order.
The lineage case is problematic because the devices are often different requiring different drivers. If the individual devices that make up your phone had to compete in an open market instead of getting bundled I'm a complete system, there would be more consolidation based on economies of scale, and thus fewer drivers to worry about. How many GPU brands for your PC do you have these days?
A phone is a more limited device that isn't bound by the same constraints as a laptop. I don't think the case is as hopeless as you imply. Something like Ara: https://www.extremetech.com/computing/193256-googles-project...
Modern SoCs use PCIe. The Raspberry Pi 4 B+'s USB 3 chip is connected to it's SoC via PCIe bus.
Given the trend regarding consumer devices towards laptops and 2-1 devices and decreasing desktop sales, it is more like "you used to do with a PC".
The article mentions that tha parts of the Fairphone 2 are not compatible with this version, unfortunately. Maybe future versions will be compatible to the Fairphone 3, though.
Congratulations to the Fairphone team for achieving a 10/10 score!
The more I look at this sort of project, the more I wonder if the "hyper-repairable" approach is worth it. How many of those phones will need repairs? How much more resources have to be spent, and what other trade-offs have to be made, to enable that repairability? (One of the trade-offs being less economy-of-scale because not as many people are willing to buy a bulky yet expensive phone.)
At which point is it better to just build 12 non-repairable phones instead of 10 repairable ones + some spare parts?
Take, for example, the user-serviceable battery with its thick casing. Given that you'd expect to swap it 1-2 times during the useful lifetime of a phone platform, does it need to be that easy to swap, or would it be OK to require some level of disassembly?
Not "melt the glue, pull with suction cup, pry open, disconnect 15 connectors, loosen two sets of 8 screws (all different), remove all innards, replace some single-use parts" level of disassembly, something like "losen two screws, pry off the back, loosen two more screws, swap battery" like with the Nexus 4: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Nexus+4+Battery+Replacement/130...
We don't complain when we take a wristwatch to a watch shop at the corner to swap the battery every few years, waiting a few minutes and paying $5-10 for the service and another $5 for the battery. I would be perfectly OK with a phone that works like that: Repairable (especially commonly swapped parts), but not average-user-servicable.
Edit: Looking at the Fairphone 3, it doesn't look as bad. I remember looking at the Fairphone 2, which looked like a brick made of cheap plastic all around.
The more you look at the e-waste that is being generated and dumped (often in developing countries, or.. out of sight of most westerners) the more you realize that increasing repairability/re-use/longetivity of devices is important for the planet. Can you imagine dumping your laptop in the garbage if one of the keys stopped working? Or if your CPU fan clogged up with dust? That's essentially whats happening with iphones, because Apple refuses to give customers the option to take their phones to reputable repair shops by prohibiting suppliers to sell to repair-shops, or in some cases using DRM to prevent repair.
>How many of those phones will need repairs? How much more resources have to be spent, and what other trade-offs have to be made, to enable that repairability?
Judging by the large amount of phone repair shops in existence, we already have the answer.
>(One of the trade-offs being less economy-of-scale because not as many people are willing to buy a bulky yet expensive phone.)
Why do you assume that the phone has to be bulky? That's simply a lack of imagination on the part of designers..
> The more you look at the e-waste that is being generated and dumped (often in developing countries, or.. out of sight of most westerners) the more you realize that increasing repairability/re-use/longetivity of devices is important for the planet.
This is based on an assumption that making the device serviceable is actually going to help with this. I'm pretty sure that's just an assumption, mostly based on a hope that we can keep consuming like we do and somehow not wreck the planet if we just pick a phone with "fair" in its name.
> That's essentially whats happening with iphones, because Apple refuses to give customers the option to take their phones to reputable repair shops by prohibiting suppliers to sell to repair-shops, or in some cases using DRM to prevent repair.
Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
> Why do you assume that the phone has to be bulky? That's simply a lack of imagination on the part of designers..
I can imagine a phone that's also a horse and a vacuum cleaner, but it's not imagination that helps. Extra demands restrict options.
> This is based on an assumption that making the device serviceable is actually going to help with this. I'm pretty sure that's just an assumption, mostly based on a hope that we can keep consuming like we do and somehow not wreck the planet if we just pick a phone with "fair" in its name.
Why wound reparability not help with this? Especially since you note that we can't keep living like we do: Reparability is an active attempt to reduce the harmful effects of consuming by reducing waste.
> Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
Bringing it to Apple for repair might take weeks to process, a repair shop might not always be available and I might lose my local data. That's definitely a lot more friction than ordering a new battery (or hypothetically even buying it at the store) and taking a few minutes to put it in, all in the comfort of my home.
> Why wound reparability not help with this?
Why would it?
> Especially since you note that we can't keep living like we do: Reparability is an active attempt to reduce the harmful effects of consuming by reducing waste.
Or is it an active attempt to soothe our consciences without sacrificing very much?
> Bringing it to Apple for repair might take weeks to process, a repair shop might not always be available and I might lose my local data. That's definitely a lot more friction than ordering a new battery (or hypothetically even buying it at the store) and taking a few minutes to put it in, all in the comfort of my home.
Do you know _why_ most phones are filled with glue? Vibration resistance. You're going to mess with far more than replacing the battery, meanwhile the expected lifetime of an unrepairable phone is limited by software updates and carrier support anyway.
>This is based on an assumption that making the device serviceable is actually going to help with this.
We are choosing between repairing phones versus tossing them in the garbage. I can see which one is better for the planet, given that phones are purchased in the millions..
>Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
The "you" here is reputable repair shops. I don't have the skills to repair my phone, nor do I want to. There are forums littered with people taking their phone to the Apple store and being told that they need to buy a new one, when all they had to do was replace a capacitor that costs 5 cents, or given the standard lie about water damage, or being told to replace the entire motherboard for a component failure, etc, etc.
Okay, you can say that Apples policy on repair is such and such due to the cost of labor involved, and that would have been fine if the consumer had another option to go to. But Apple fights tooth and nail to restrict legitimate repair businesses from purchasing spare parts from suppliers, and providing repairs that Apple refuses to, which makes it worse.
>I can imagine a phone that's also a horse and a vacuum cleaner, but it's not imagination that helps. Extra demands restrict options.
That's ridiculous. i'm talking about a reasonable design compromise. In any case, I'll believe your statement when talented phone designers apply their creativity to this problem, and fail to make a sleek and repairable phone. Due to the commercial aspect, most phone makers are unfortunately focused on getting you to buy a new phone every 2 years, and so the focus is not on making it repairable.
The repairability of the fairphone seems to be more a side project - the real aim of the company is to ensure a 'fair' smartphone in the sense of 'fair'trade: fair labour practices in the production, traceable raw materials that don't support slavery/war/etc. They set up whole certification processes in industries where those didn't exist yet.
The fair towards users regarding repairability is just an additional positive.
The more I read comments like this, the more I question the real possibility of shilling here. Yes repairability is important, but only if the likelihood of needing repair is not increased.
Remember FORD? Easy to repair, but you might have to Fix Or Repair Daily. Don't be that company.
As a user of a phone with a swappable battery, I keep an extra battery in my bag and swap whenever the battery gets low. The dead battery goes in a charger when I'm home. The swapping functionally is getting used frequently.
Also, as a user of a more recent phone with good battery life and wireless charging, the battery never dies so I've never felt the need to swap it.
On a side note, I feel that the rampant accusations of shilling lower the quality of discourse here and are indicative of a failure of empathy or theory of mind.
I think the repairability of the Fairphone 3 is a huge step forward, but in the long run I want a phone that allows me to run an up-to-date OS for as long as I want. The Fairphone 3 will get updates for 5 years, that's not enough if you ask me.
Most people replace their phones within 3 years. That's why phone contracts (and now HUPs and EIPs) generally are for 2-3 years. 5 years already is a long time in the cell phone space.
To compare, 5 years ago the Nexus 6 was released, and had its EOL 3 years ago. The iPhone 6 did slightly better, with the last software release being 12.x which was released last year (and only just got superseded yesterday).
Expecting more than 5 years of support is pretty ridiculous, given industry trends and just the evolution of phones and technology in general in the span of 5 years.
The whole raison d'etre of the Fairphone is to buck industry trends and the evolution of phones. So I don't think it makes sense to hold them to a standard they are explicitly rejecting.
Why not have a phone for 10 or 20 years, especially if the tech plateaus? I think a fair and good revenue model would be a modest software subscription fee - something like $20-50/year feels right.
Five years seems reasonable to me. The further out they get, the harder it gets for them to provide support—they're dependent on chipset vendors for up-to-date drivers.
I'll be interested to see what options there will be at the five-year mark: I'd guess that there would be options for non-official firmware.
If all I want from the phone is five years, any of the flagship phones will do fine. Certainly I know several people still rocking iPhone 6's from 2014. Still running the latest OS (though that stops this year with iOS 13).
So you want indefinite software support?
Technically achievable with open source, but even OSS projects come to an end.
> OSS projects come to an end.
Depends on the project. With necessary projects to operate still-used technology, I don't know that OSS projects actually end (without drop-in replacements) very often.
Five years seems great, for getting a new up-to-date OS, but I would start to expect security updates to be available for longer. That not only Fairphone, but all phone manufactures.
Apple is pretty good about supporting older hardware, but I feel like we reached a point in the last few years where phones are powerful enough that upgrades cycles could be five years for an average consumer. So it should be expected that security fixes would be available for longer.
Would it be reasonable to you to get something like 2 years of monthly security/software updates included in your purchase of a phone and then pay a nominal (like $25) yearly fee to continue getting only security updates beyond the first 2 years? If not, then how would you suggest funding the people who perform the software/security update process for your phone?
Making people pay for security would be bad.
A solution to this is having an upstream kernel (like mainline Linux) work on the phone, and having fairly standard hardware in the phone with in-kernel drivers and free / standard libraries instead of these shitty blobs we need on current phones, and crappy unmaintainable Linux forks.
Android 9 works on my nine year old airis kira slimpad x86 tablet sold with Windows 7. It runs a standard Xubuntu though. And yes, the latest Ubuntu with latest security patches. I don't rely on the manufacturer. It just works with standard software. Have the OS builders and hardware device makers maintain each part for you.
This is not the world we live in though. In our world, Qualcomm and Samsung make their messy Linux forks and don't seem to maintain their Shit on a Chip.
The Librem 5 is promising on this matter though.
Making people pay for security isn't unusual. Windows XP is still supported by Microsoft... provided you're willing to pay extra for it.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I can see a corporation / organization pay for Windows XP security updates. Regular people, not so much.
Old Android versions do get some security updates.
Android 4.4 still gets the latest version of Chrome (6 years later), and the Play Services is updated too.
In comparison when an Apple device stops getting updates, you are stuck with an insecure Safari version, so the device becomes unsafe to use for browsing.
Edit: Nokia phones are providing 2 years of version update (from release), followed by 3 years of security updates (and presumably browser updates for many years after that). Not bad for say the more expensive Nokia 7.2 at USD350. Disclaimer: I'm a Nokia 7+ owner (very happy with it too).
5 years is enough time for the underlying cell technology to have shifted somehow and carriers will eventually stop supporting devices that don’t work on their new networks.
You probably can’t take a 10 or 15 year old cell phone and expect it to work on any carrier out there today.
There is an upper bound to how long a phone will even worn on a network...
> You probably can’t take a 10 or 15 year old cell phone and expect it to work on any carrier out there today.
I believe that the Nokia 3310, released 19 years ago, is still compatible with many networks nowadays (with somewhat degraded coverage). GSM turndowns: https://1ot.mobi/blog/2g-and-3g-networks-are-shutting-down-g...
Isn't that the point of modularity?
Agreed, I think there should be an option for paying for long term service/support. The 5years thing is purely due to lack of funding.
I'm surprised LineageOS gives their software away for free. I'm sure there's a lot of people who would be willing to pay to continue using their old phones.
I had a fairphone about three years ago (I'm guessing fairphone 2). The software was for a very old version of Android and the update was very slow coming. I tried to update but had huge problems. There were no custom ROMs for it either - hopefully there are now.
I never got to the point where I replaced a hardware component because the software problems, especially software update problems, and perhaps some mild hardware problems, meant I eventually gave up and used another phone. I hope FF3 is a vast improvement.
Edit: I see lineage has a ROM for FF2 giving it Android 8.1. That wasn't there when I used my FF. It may have given me a good experience.
> Edit: I see lineage has a ROM for FF2 giving it Android 8.1. That wasn't there when I used my FF. It may have given me a good experience.
The LineageOS 16 OS is based on AOSP / Android 9.x Pi; not 8.x Oreo. That was LineageOS 15.
(We also don't use the acronym "FF"; we use the acronym "FP".)
> I had a fairphone about three years ago (I'm guessing fairphone 2). [...] There were no custom ROMs for it either - hopefully there are now.
I have a Fairphone 2 (FP2) for 4 years, and what you say is untrue. There have been alternative OSes for Fairphone for ages. Fairphone delivered a version of FPOS called Fairphone Open. It is Android without OpenGapps.
The OSes which have been around the past 4 years on FP2:
* SailfishOS (community edition)
* FirefoxOS [now defunct]
* Ubuntu Touch
* LineageOS (for approx 2-3 years?)
* /e/ (more recent, but also a newcomer)
* PostmarketOS (more recent)
Especially the SailfishOS port has been around for ages, by community member mal (who now works for Jolla). Ubuntu Touch I'm not sure about when that was released, but it was the main development device for UT.
Assuming good faith on your behalf, are you sure this was 3 years ago? From the information you post, it was likely 5 years ago or so, and a Fairphone 1.
It was 2016. A FP2? There were definitely other OSes available but I wanted an uptodate Android phone.
If FP could supply an uptodate stock Android version with painless update procedure I'd be happy to try again.
This looks like Android 8? https://lineageosroms.com/fp2/
Sorry but if you cannot remember the version of the device and the date it is pointless to discuss that further.
Fairphone delivers an uptodate version of Android on FP2 insofar that it has all the latest security patches despite efforts from Qualcomm to not support the SD 801 anymore. Android 7 officially does not support SD 801 either (via Google) but Fairphone delivered. The community even managed to run an Android 9 fork on it (LineageOS 16).
What you linked looks like a second hand, not updated source.
I am running LineageOS on the FP2 as my daily driver (with microG). Many in the community run it both with and without microG. LOS 16 works. See also this source 
Does anyone know if the Fairphone 3 will support Android Pay? I've asked their support a few times now, but I've never gotten a clear answer.
Their website says it has NFC for card payments. So I would assume it would.
Wow, that's neat. This might just be my next phone. It's a little more expensive than I'd like, but not bad, really.
What would be the use cases for such a easy repairable phone? Compared to other phones not so easily repairable (i.e. 6/10).
Everytime my macbook pro break, it becomes a session in anger management, because it's hard to fix or required lot of money to fix.
If an easily repairable phone breaks, it's not a big deal.
I just got bloated battery in my macbook pro 2016 with touchbar. Double presses on keyboard are now not an issue, it got really slower, bluetooth module seems to work a lot worse. Only last week I noticed it to be that bloated so I stopped using it and I am waiting for battery replacement.
It was most expensive model at the time. I know people who have dirt cheap laptop 10 years, this macbook pro crap is like 3 years. Unbelivable. My macbook pro from 2014 is starting to get bloated battery I think as well.
I don't have a problem with the MBP being hard to fix, but I have a problem with most repairs require a 2-week ground shipment (both ways) to get the apple store to send it for repair. This is with apple care. Right now I have a bulging battery and a ruined screen glaze that has to go in and I have to find a computer to live with for a few weeks while it's gone.
> I don't have a problem with the MBP being hard to fix, but I have a problem with most repairs require a 2-week ground shipment (both ways) to get the apple store to send it for repair.
I don't understand the distinction. The MBP is hard to fix because most repairs require a 2-week ground shipment both ways.
I meant I wouldn't have a problem if I had to have authorized repairs because it's not meant to be user fixed like they were just a few years ago. I just don't want to have to ship them to Texas for pretty much everything. They should be able to do battery, keyboard and screen replacements locally.
You can do almost everything you can do with any other high end phone. I think the smartphone market will soon settle at a much slower pace like the PC/notebook market. I haven't replaced my personal notebook since 2012.
I finally replaced my personal laptop from 2010 (a ThinkPad T410) last year. It lasted that long because it was upgrade-able and—crucially—repairable. It still has some life in it, but I decided a newer machine would give me enough performance benefits to be worth it.
I've had my Pixel XL for about 2.5 years. I'm planning to replace it in the next six months only because the battery is getting worn out—the performance of the device is still very good.
I was about to tell you to just replace the battery, but it turns out this is quite the ordeal with a Pixel XL: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Google+Pixel+XL+Battery+Replace...
Awful. Who came up with the idea of going through the front? Took me like 10 minutes with my last two Xiaomi phones.
My t410 from 2010 is still working happily :)
Being able to swap modules out of your phone like you can swap components out of a PC is very enticing to DIYers.
With enough maturity there could be a new market to sell modules for very different purposes than phone manufactures intended (ie: you can use the drive bays in PC case for a variety of components, not just “drives”, and it will work as long as it interface with the motherboard)
Why should we accept less?
People throw away phones that work perfectly well except for one simple component. E.g. the body and all the electronics are sent to the landfill even if it's just the screen that's broken.
Longevity. Use less resources by repairing.
It’s somewhat morose to consider that the resources expended to bring this device into the world likely far exceed the positive environmental impact of the relatively few number of repairs that users of this device will ultimately perform.
That is to say, a mainstream phone’s production is so optimized and streamlined, that the weighted average environmental impact of making 10 more (e.g. iPhones) is significantly less than the weighted average environmental cost of making 1 Fairphone.
Maybe if you factor in the value of performance art and political proselytizing then you can justify it!
So I used to have a Fairphone 2 until recently, and have put that phone through a lot of abuse. As a result I did have to replace various modules at times (most often the bottom module, which is responsible for the charger and the microphone). Relative to the entire phone however replacing these small modules represent only a few percentages in terms of embodied energy and resources. The bulk of energy goes into the core module, IIRC.
In the end the core module also started becoming unstable (I have to emphasize though that the phone had endured a lot of physical abuse, as well as certain apps that probably overheated the CPU more than a few times) and I had to replace it two months ago. If the FP3 had been announced earlier I would have bought it instead of the phone I ended up replacing the FP2 with.
You should also factor in the 'setting an example for other vendors' value. They're showing it's quite easily possible, and are shaming other vendors a bit in the process.
> a mainstream phone’s production is so optimized and streamlined
Economically, sure—manufacturers optimize to be as cost-effective as possible.
> That is to say, a mainstream phone’s production is so optimized and streamlined, that the weighted average environmental impact of making 10 more (e.g. iPhones) is significantly less than the weighted average environmental cost of making 1 Fairphone.
I agree that the lack of repairability requirements and the sheer volume of production make it plausible such optimisations could have happened. But we know neither whether they happened, nor the scale of the benefits. Unless you're Tim Cook I guess, in which case bring back iPhone 5S form factor.
And 80% of statistics are made up on the spot.
(Would be interested in any links to studies or economic models in this area though.)
Well, there is obvious bias but Fairphone itself has lots of articles about their research into their environmental impact:
It was slightly tongue in cheek, but the point relates to fixed versus marginal environmental costs of production.
It’s sort of a backwards way of thinking about the “Marginal Abatement Cost Function” (MAC) which is non-linear at the point you decide to go from producing 1 unit of output to shuttering the factory entirely.
At the point where you are producing 36 million phones, the marginal economic cost is at its lowest. The marginal economic cost of your first unit, by comparison, is a massive step function.
Which is why I started by saying it’s a morose way of looking at things, because you get stuck in a local minimum that way.
Too late to edit, but that should read marginal environmental impact, not marginal economic cost. (Both are true)
Every single microchip uses a lot of resources. You can't just handwave that away by talking about streamlining and optimizing building an entire phone. You are making wildl inaccurate guesses.
I see how that can be true, but won't you agree that specific numbers would help you make that case?
But needs repairing more often due to no waterproving and a soft shell.
I could fix my phone more than once, unlike my Nexus 5, which survived one attempt at repair (new screen and battery) and is now inscrutably beyond fixing, no matter what combination of replacement parts I try.
Big cost savings.
For myself, I would have no problem popping it open to replace parts. It would be great to get 5-6 (planned) years of use out of a single device. For family, that I regularly provide "tech support" for, it would be great to repair their phones instead of being beholden to some "bar", on the other side of town, requiring in-person visits/appointments for $100+ repairs.
We could just get it done at the kitchen table.
I think you're setting the bar pretty low. You can get 5 years from an iPhone. Probably from some of the Android flagships as well.
You won't get 5 years without at minimum replacing the battery, and a large fraction of people will probably end up with a broken screen in that timeframe as well. Of course it's not impossible to replace these parts on a normal phone, but it is significantly easier/cheaper to do on something like the Fairphone.
Readily available and easily installable replacement parts are certainly useful for anyone planning on keeping a phone for more than a few years, just like with cars.
My daughter's iPhone 5s is 6 years old, still gets well over 24 hours battery life and the screen is perfect and never been replaced.
Replacing a battery on a 5S wasn't a problem — literally a trip downstairs and paying €20, if my memory serves me well. Done within 15 minutes. It would be neat if I could do it on my own, but that was good enough for me. And it means I'm on year 6 on this phone, and the lifetime is limited by software upgrades — and not just the OS, but also drivers and firmware.
It doesn't support USB-PD only QC3.0 . I won't buy anything that uses a proprietary charging.
You make it sound like a super rare and quirky standard - but as far as I can tell it's quite wildly supported?
Addionally it seems it's backwards compatible - you can use an USB charger, but at slower rate?
The SoC, baseband, WiFi, etc. chips are okay, but the charging isn't?
What's unreasonable about that? The charging standard is a lot more likely to affect day to day use. Being unable to charge quickly using a standard USB-C PD charger is much likely to affect me than some ethical argument about the proprietary baseband and SoC, especially when there are literally no alternatives to proprietary basebands.
If this is about practical use instead of ethical arguments: I think QC chargers are more widely available right now than USB PD chargers. Basically every Chinese charger or powerbank nowadays does QC. I've rarely seen one with USB PD.
You are right if we only looking at the phone chargers. Actually that's my problem. I don't want to QC be the de facto standard for phone charging. First, with USB PD we have the opportunity to use the same charger for every device we carry with us (Phone, Laptop, Camera, etc.). If my phone doesn't support it then I still have to carry another just for my phone. Second, the USB-C standard prohibits any charging solution other than USB PD. Any proprietary adds another level of confusion using USB-C. Is it supports USB PD, Qualcomm Quick Charge, OnePlus Dash Charge, Oppo Super Vooc, Huawei SuperCharge, Motorola TurboPower or MediaTek Pump Express? In the end, something will fry my laptop if I just plug in a random charger and I will be angry. That's why I hate proprietary charging solutions.
On specs this seems to be a mid-low level phone. I'm not sure I see the point of having a phone built to be repairable and last for the long haul if it's not got the specs to see that lifetime through, and as others have noted the lack up updates in prior iterations is troubling.
I also wonder if the repairability will really impact repair costs. Swapping a battery is one thing, but if the phone isn't mass produced in sufficient qualities then getting replacement screens might not be much cheaper. Other repairs seem much less likely to be needed-- battery and screen probably account for a huge majority of repair issues.
I've replaced my last 4 phones not because I wanted something faster or thinner or any hardware improvements at all in fact.
Just that something broke and fixing it was almost as much as getting a new one. Or the software was full of security holes or incompatibilities, and no way of upgrading.
Honestly phones are pretty much where PCs are now, upgrading every year is pointless except for certain specific use cases, and something that can last 4-5 years with minor repairs and regular software updates is enough for the vast majority of users.
My only concern with the Fairphone is the high initial price.
On security holes, that's exactly my point when I mentioned updates. It seems from other comments that fairphone was very lax on that front. As for repairs, which ones were almost as much as a new phone? New flagships run $1000. Battery or screen replacement are $200-300. How much will a new fairphone screen cost? Even at half that, it doesn't seem worth a low spec phone when I can get a much higher spec phone at roughly half the $500 fairphone price. (A pixel 2xl costs about $250 with a bit of smart shopping) I just don't see the savings here or the reason to sacrifice performance and software updates.
I keep to sub 300€ or even sub 200€ since I don't game and prefer my DSLR for photography. So a screen replacement on a phone that's not getting software updates is not really interesting to me.