Fairphone, a small startup company headquartered in the Netherlands, is a social enterprise company whose goal is to reduce environmental impact by providing phones with long software support, environmentally-friendly build materials and fair labour conditions.
The Fairphone 2 is a modular phone tapped with LineageOS. Recently, the phone got another software update, certified by Google. It is now upgradable to Android 9. Yes, this Android version may be old, but apps still largely support it. This is a huge step forward considering this long software support is rarely seen on any Android phone.
In comparison, a flagship phone gets 2-3 years worth of Android updates, while iPhones and other iOS-powered products get at least seven years worth of support.
Fairphone has blamed Qualcomm for the lack of software support. The Fairphone 2 is equipped with a flagship Snapdragon 801 chipset, which the company no longer supports, and, without custom ROM, supports up to Android 6 “Marshmallow” only.
To achieve the Android 9 update, Fairphone had sideloaded LineageOS for its Fairphone 2, a custom ROM for Android.
“To get Google certification for Android 9 for Fairphone 2 just as we hit five years of support for the smartphone is a huge achievement for Fairphone,” says CEO Eva Gouwens, “In order to get certification, we had to pass approximately 477,000 Google tests.”
“We want to show the industry that this kind of thing is possible, that a smartphone doesn’t have to be discarded after 2-3 years, we can prolong it’s lifespan,” the CEO added.
Mainstream Android manufacturers still have a long way of catching up to Fairphone’s commitments. The most comparable phone to Fairphone 2 in terms of longevity is Apple’s iPhone 6S, a phone released within the same year and had its last update last year, to iOS 14. Apple stopped supporting the device recently, due to hardware issues. However, major Android manufacturers like Samsung, has announced that newer Galaxy devices will now get four years worth of updates.