If you're a long-time PhoneArena reader, you might recall the Fairphone 2 which was released five years ago. The company on Thursday revealed that the device is receiving an update to Android 9, which still includes Google support. The tech giant even noted in this month's Android security bulletin that it fixed several security issues found in Android 9. The update will be available from now through April 18th. If you can get past the fact that the phone is getting software that is two generations old, you might celebrate the fact that a five-year old handset is being updated at all.
Fairphone 2 from 2015 is now receiving an update to Android 9
Fairphone says that it is having a celebration for the Fairphone 2. "So in proper fashion, we are celebrating the 5th birthday of the Fairphone 2 by baking a cake, eating it, and then getting back to work ensuring fairness is present across the electronic, mining, and recycling industries. Not to mention the continued software support for our phones. It’s a big job but somebody has to do it, and we don’t mind being front-runners. As long as the rest of the electronic industry follows along." The company also added that, "We started Fairphone with a mission: to encourage smartphone longevity by disrupting the electronics industry from the inside. We know that fairness is possible, but it will take the broader industry jumping on the bandwagon, taking responsibility and driving as well as demanding change. At Fairphone, we strive to make the most of the materials used in our products. We’re moving closer to a circular economy by using materials from more responsible sources, emphasizing reuse and recycling, and designing our phones to last as long as possible. This birthday signifies our commitment to you and to our supply chain."
Apple, as a point of comparison, disseminated iOS 14 to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus last year. The pair, which have been rumored to lose support starting with this year's iOS 15, were released in 2015. Four years of security updates is what Samsung promises those purchasing its new Galaxy devices, and Pixel owners get three years of updates from Google. According to research firm Kantar Worldpanel, European smartphone users kept their phone for an average of two to three years in 2018. But Fairphone says, "Our ambition is to provide you phones that last a minimum of 5 years. The reason is simple: the longer you keep your phone, the lower its environmental footprint. This constant push for the latest device means that over one billion mobile phones are sold worldwide every year. That also means more discarded phones. While only 20% of these discarded phones are recycled, it’s no surprise that electronic waste (e-waste) has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream."
Fairphone did not have completely smooth sailing for the update since the Snapdragon 801 chipset (remember that component, folks?) used to power the device was no longer being supported by Qualcommn. The update did have to go through a large number of tests. "To get to where we are today, we had to go through approximately 477,000 Google tests and pass them all in order to get the certification," Fairphone said.
The Fairphone 2 sports a Gorilla Glass 3 protected 5-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1080 x 1920. 2GB of memory is included along with 32GB of storage. An 8MP single camera adorns the back of the unit while the phone carries a 2MP front-facing selfie camera. A removable 2420mAh battery keeps the lights on. The device was also the first modular phone according to the company. Fairphone notes, "The FP2 was the first modular phone. It was a revolutionary concept for the electronics sector that hadn’t been done before. However, producing the first modular phone presented new challenges in the supply chain. While the modular design enables users to easily repair their phones with spare parts, thus extending its lifespan, the availability of those parts becomes crucial. In fact, recently we ran out of stock of the bottom modules due to this very issue. Understanding this aspect was key and we had to continuously tweak our process, jumping over hurdles to make sure we had enough spare parts available, even once production of the phone ended."