The Fairphone 2 will reach the end of its life after 7 years of updates

Fairphone

It can be done. Android manufacturers can actually support a phone for a significant amount of time. Fairphone has announced the end of life of the Fairphone 2, which will be March 2023. This phone was released in October 2015, so that’s almost seven and a half years of updates.

Fairphone is a very small Dutch company with nowhere near as many resources as Google, Samsung, BBK and the other big tech juggernauts, but it has managed to outlast them with its support program. The company’s overall goal is sustainability with easily repairable phones, available spare parts and long update promises. The Fairphone 4 comes with a five-year hardware warranty and six years of updates, and the company’s reputation says it can offer this. Unfortunately, the phones will only ship in the UK and Europe. The Fairphone 2 only promised “three to five years” of updates, and it blew that out of the water.

Updating the Fairphone 2 was a huge undertaking for Fairphone as it was largely done without Qualcomm’s help. Usually the Android update process has a chain of control where Google updates the Android source code, your chip vendor takes that code and adds drivers and other binary blobs, then the phone maker takes the chip vendor’s code and lets it keep working specific device. For Qualcomm, a short support cycle means it sells more chips, so it pulled out of the process fairly quickly, making updates much more difficult for Fairphone.

Fairphone details the production Android update process it had to perform for this mid without Qualcomm's help
Enlarge / Fairphone describes the production Android update process it had to perform for this middle step of “chipset software” without Qualcomm’s help.

Fairphone

The Fairphone 2 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, a chip that Qualcomm no longer supports with Android 6.0. In what is likely to be a first Android ecosystem, that lack of chipset support hasn’t stopped Fairphone, which has teamed up with LineageOS and is shipping Android 10 on the 7-year-old device today. It’s not the newest operating system in the world, but it passes all of Google’s Android compatibility tests. I’m sure there are newer amateur releases in the Android ROM community, but Fairphone’s Android 10 build is up to the standard of an official release, as opposed to the “tell me what’s not working” standard of many amateurs -ROM versions.

Fairphone doesn’t say why support will end in March, but if it stays on Android 10 it should end support sometime this year. Google only supports security patches for the last four versions of Android, so even Google will drop support for Android 10 soon.

If you want to keep rolling with the Fairphone 2, Fairphone says you do so at your own risk as it will soon be unsafe. Fairphone says it still has a “limited” stock of parts in its web shop, and if you send in your retired phone before the end of March, you’ll receive a €50 credit towards a new phone.

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