Fairphone, the Dutch social enterprise building a market for ethical smartphones, has announced it has reached the milestone of five years of Fairphone 2 hardware and software support, as it confirms Google certification of Android 9 for Fairphone 2 and a multi-staged rollout of the software. Fairphone’s unique modular design makes it easy for customers to use their phones for longer – lowering their environmental footprint.
Fairphone 2, launched five years ago, was the world’s first modular smartphone. The phone’s concept and design were the first of its kind, making it revolutionary for the electronics industry. In total, around 115,000 Fairphone 2’s were sold. Producing the first modular phone presented new challenges for Fairphone in the supply chain, particularly around spare parts availability. The company had to learn to accurately forecast how many spare part components were actually needed in the long-term as well as how long the manufacturers of specific components would keep producing the required spare parts. Ensuring spare parts availability can be especially complicated when phone production ends. In fact, more recently Fairphone experienced challenges with the supply chain and had to permanently go out of stock of the Fairphone 2’s bottom module.
As well as hardware, software is also a key component of smartphone longevity, with chipset vendors such as Qualcomm playing an important role in software development. But without their support, building an operating system is a complicated process. For the Fairphone 2 software Fairphone has had to work without Qualcomm’s support, yet was able to overcome these challenges. Fairphone 2 was initially released with Android 5 and was subsequently upgraded to Android 6, Android 7.1 (rolled out with Google certification) and now, Android 9, which recently received Google certification – meaning Fairphone has made two Android upgrades without Qualcomm support.
Eva Gouwens, CEO at Fairphone, comments: “To get Google certification for Android 9 for Fairphone 2 just as we hit five years of support for the smartphone is a huge achievement for Fairphone and unprecedented in the electronics industry. In order to get certification, we had to pass approximately 477,000 Google tests. The project truly makes us a unique force for change in the mobile phone industry because this kind of engineering challenge isn’t undertaken by other players in the sector. We want to show the industry that this kind of thing is possible, that a smartphone doesn’t have to be discarded after 2-3 years, we can prolong it’s lifespan.”
Fairphone designs its phones to last as long as possible, as longer use lowers the environmental footprint of smartphones. Longevity is a key to Fairphone’s strategy and for the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+, the social enterprise has announced a longevity promise for hardware and software. For the latest generation of Fairphones, the company will:
- Provide a major upgrade to Android 11 in H2 2021
- Intends for at least one more major Android upgrade, which needs to be developed again without Qualcomm support that will end in July 2021
- Ensure spare parts and product specific accessory sales at least until August 2024
- Publish a full software roadmap, which will include software support until at least 2024
Gouwens states: “Our goal has always been to provide at least five years of support from launch for our phones. At Fairphone, we design phones to last as long as possible so that we can lower their environmental footprint and a big part of that is extended software and hardware support. With our longevity promise, we want to provide a clear vision of how we will ensure our users can enjoy our phones for as long as possible.”