Fairphone continues to push boundaries and lead the Android ecosystem when it comes to system updates. The company announced it is shipping Android 10 for the Fairphone 2, a six-year-old device that originally shipped with Android 5.
Six years of major updates is unheard of in the Android market. Most Android companies charge iPhone-level prices but don’t offer iPhone-level support, which is six years of major updates. The best you can get from more mainstream Android OEMs like Google and Samsung are three years of major OS updates. Fairphone is a dramatically smaller company than its competition, but it is wiping the floor with them when it comes to updates.
For Fairphone, shipping Android updates for this long has meant going outside the normal update support structure. The Fairphone 2 uses a Snapdragon 801 SoC, and Qualcomm only supported that chip up to Android 6. Without Qualcomm’s help, Fairphone had to enlist the help of the Lineage OS Android community to get the phone updated. The difference between Fairphone and an aftermarket ROM is that Fairphone is still passing all of Google’s CTS tests and officially licensing the Play Store, which is a huge undertaking.
As for timing, the company says the beta program of Android 10 for Fairphone 2 is up and running here, and it should hit a final release in “early 2022.” Fairphone is also starting Android 11 beta testing for the Fairphone 3 and 3+ this week. The one negative thing you could say is that releasing 2019’s Android 10 in 2022 is pretty slow, but it’s hard to criticize the company too much when every other Android OEM would have abandoned users by now.
Lots of companies give lip service to the idea of reducing e-waste but stop when it impacts their bottomline. Along with Apple, Fairphone is the only other smartphone company that puts its money where its mouth is and offers long-term smartphone support. While Apple is a multi-trillion-dollar company with all the resources in the world, Fairphone proves any OEM can offer long-term support if it wants to; they just don’t want to invest the time and money to make it happen.