Despite the Best efforts of the right to repair movement, most popular smartphones are still notoriously difficult to repair by DIY means. In 2013, an ethical telephone company Fairphone set out to change that, starting with his eponymous handset free of conflict materials, later adding a modular design to its successor and more recycled plastics for subsequent devices.
In accordance with its philosophy of sustainable development, Fairphone is now deploying a Android 9 update for his five-year-old Fairphone 2. This effectively means that the handset, the company’s first modular device, can continue to operate by receiving security updates. Owners can also take advantage of Android 9 features such as adaptive battery, predictive app actions, and gesture navigation. Yes, the update is over two years late, but it’s still a rare feat for a niche device.
Moreover, getting here was not easy for the Dutch “social enterprise” company. Although it sold 115,000 Fairphone 2 handsets, it also faced challenges in sourcing spare parts. Its biggest challenge was estimating how many components to store long-term once phone production ceased. In fact, Fairphone claims that convoluted supply chain logistics have resulted in a permanent shortage of the Fairphone 2’s lower module.
In addition, the company claims that it had to overcome the unique task of developing the phone’s software without the help of a chipset vendor. To get the Android 9 update, it had to pass around 477,000 Google tests to get its seal of approval, marking the second time it has achieved certification without Qualcomm’s support. Overall, the issues are symptomatic of the issues facing tech startups, especially those looking to reverse mainstream business models.
As for the longevity of its latest devices, the company promises a Android 11 update for the FairPhone 3 and 3+ in the second half of this year. A full software roadmap will be released detailing all of its support through 2024 and also commits to securing sales of spare parts and accessories until at least August of this year.