Smartphones, expensive and powerful as they are, seem to be designed not to last long, at least as far as manufacturer support goes. There have been many that call out such arbitrary practices but only a small few actually take action to provide an alternative. The Fairphone 2 is one such alternative, designed and built to be ethical, repairable, and long-lasting. Proof of the latter is now coming via a major Android update, even if it’s not the Android update many will presume it to be.
Fairphone put out the call for beta testers for an Android 9 Pie update that the phone will soon receive. Considering we’re a few months away from Android 11, the 2018 version of the mobile OS doesn’t sound particularly exciting. That is until you realize that it will be running on a five-year-old phone with parts that manufacturers have long stopped supporting.
When it launched in 2015, the Fairphone 2 did have high-end specs by that year’s standards. Those included a 5-inch Full HD screen, 2 GB of RAM, and, more importantly, a Snapdragon 801 processor. Qualcomm has stopped supporting Android updates for that chipset, making the Fairphone 2 perhaps the only device using that processor to even get this far. It was also the first of its kind to get updated to Android 7.0 Nougat in 2018.
That, of course, is part of the promise and appeal of this ethical and sustainable phone. While it’s definitely important that the phone’s parts can be easily repaired or replaced, keeping it usable also involves making sure the software is up-to-date to support apps and have the latest security fixes.
Of course, there’s the sad fact that some hardware may not be able to properly support more modern software. It definitely remains to be seen if this will be the end of the line for the Fairphone 2, especially with the Fairphone 3 and the Google-free /e/ phone already in the market.