Fairphone to upgrade six-year-old Fairphone 2 to Android 10

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Fairphone is in the news again in terms of sustainability. Following on from my editorial on life cycles and my Fairphone 4 review, comes more news of the company's support for their older phones. In this case the six year old Fairphone 2, which is getting the Android 10 update, along with its associated security fixes and underpinnings. Supporting something so old (as in old chipset) required external custom software work, of course, but well done to Fairphone for making it happen in a world of abandoned handsets after, typically 2-3 years.

From the Fairphone press release:

Fairphone, the Dutch social enterprise building a market for ethical smartphones, has announced the start of public testing of Android 10 for Fairphone 2, it’s six year old smartphone, rolling out the first beta version. Fairphone 2 was launched in 2015 and is one of the few Android smartphones sold in that year to still receive continued software support. This means Fairphone 2 will have been supported for a total of seven years - something truly unique in software support for Android smartphones. Initially released with Android 5, it has been upgraded to Android 6, Android 7.1 and Android 9. 

This time, the company collaborated with the Fairphone community to help build the operating system.  Fairphone took into account the challenges it experienced when upgrading to Android 9 and as a result, the upgrade to Android 10 has been a faster, more streamlined process. Fairphone worked with a software developer in India, Bharath Ravi Prakash, who worked as a volunteer open source developer for the project. With his help, Fairphone was able to complete the update in 10 months, compared to 18 months for Android 9. The company learned a lot from the Android 9 upgrade and although still complex, Android 10 was more predictable than Android 9.

Fairphone’s ambition is to keep phones in use for as long as possible, going against the grain in an industry where rapid cycles mean that smartphones have a short lifespan. This along with the difficulty of repair and limited software support for smartphones contributes to the growing electronic waste stream globally. 

Fairphone’s devices, including its latest, Fairphone 4, are designed to last. Thanks to the modular construction and spare parts, anyone can make repairs. The company’s introduction of the 5-year warranty ensures that its phones keep running smoothly (and securely with regular software and security updates) for years to come so that users can use and enjoy them for longer. And longer-lasting devices aren't just great for the user experience – they also help reduce the environmental footprint. 

Interestingly, the company also says that it will also start the beta testing for Android 11 for the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 3+ this week, so it seems like there's definite momentum and commitment here.

PS. We're going to try to get in a 3+, a model that evaded us in the past, to put together a Fairphone review comparison feature.