back to article 5-year-old Fairphone 2 is about to receive a major update to Android 9

If it's not the battery, it's the software. Phones can have a brief shelf-life and the road from cutting edge to obsolete is short. Bucking that trend is Fairphone, which is about to start rolling out Android 9 to its Fairphone 2 model, first released more than five years ago. Earlier this week Google signed off on the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

    Full thumbs up to Fairphone for this.

    My Planetcom Gemini, released in early 2018, got its final update to Android 8.1 at the end of 2018. Even Android 9 would be welcome here.

    Unbelievably, they're still selling it today.

    1. Shadow Systems

      Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

      Which is why "Right To Repair" should require by law that any maker still offering a device for sale, either directly or via third party resellers, should be required to continue support it else release all the device details, drivers, & documentation into the public domain so that third parties can do it instead. If the maker stops supporting the device then said data needs to be made public domain immediately to facilitate repairs, upgrades, modding, etc.

      Just because the software is too old to use is no reflection on the hardware that may still be viable.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

          But the proposal was to change the law ...

      2. oiseau

        Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

        Just because the software is too old to use ...

        My phone is a Blackberry Curve 9320 which cost me, NIB w/2.0GB storage, all of US$50 a bit over three years ago.

        Works perfectly well and if it wasn't for the crap Blackberrry proprietary software it runs on, I'd also be able to use if for sending/receiving email with proper encription.

        I have a half dozen unused batteries and plastic replacement parts just in case.


    2. James 51

      Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

      I have a fairphone 3 and a Gemini. They are both good phones in their way. Both have replaceable batteries but my Gemini is three years old now. Contacted Planet Computers about a replacement as you can't buy official batteries anywhere and was quoted £100 to replace the battery and I would have to send it back to them. I need it for work so can't be without it for even a day. Think that's the old builder's trick of not wanting to say no to work so giving quotes that will never be accepted. Could risk Chinese knockoffs that say they are compatible, hell they might even come from the same factory but not that desperate just yet. I would like it to get an upgrade to Android 9 but it seems like the software side of the operation is pretty weak compared to the hardware. If sailfish had android app support for the Gemini I'd happily jump ship but there are apps that I need to be on it.

      There are quite a few e-readers based on Android 8 so hoping Google keep supporting it for a while yet.

      1. mickaroo

        Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

        My phone battery is a Chinese knock-off, my wife's phone battery is a Chinese knock-off, her Sony CyberShot and my Pentax WG-1 are both powered by Chinese knock-offs, as is my Black&Decker cordless drill and one of two UPS's that keep us up and running during blackouts.

        Nothing's caught fire yet...

      2. abs

        Re: "an upgrade to Android 9 feels marginal at best and outdated at worst"

        It's odd that Planet Computers did not sell you just the battery. If memory serves me correctly (it is a little hazy) I was charged around £40 for a replacement after I dropped mine and the battery tore off.

  2. Norman Nescio Silver badge


    Jolla ended software upgrades for the Jolla 1 phone in November last year. It won't run SailfishOS 4, so the last version for the Jolla 1 was 3.4.0 (Pallas-Yllästunturi). It was supported for 7 years.

    Jolla Blog,November 26, 2020: The Original Jolla Phone turns 7 today.

    Which is not a bad run.

    It's still a shame that 7 years is regarded as an exceptional maximum. I understand the reasons: stuck on an old kernel because of binary device drivers that are not upgraded by the manufacturers. Designing and building consumer electronics for long lifespans is hard.

  3. Captain Hogwash

    "difficulties in porting Android 9 to the use of the obsolete Snapdragon 801 chipset"

    LineageOS managed this ages ago. I've been running it and subsequently /e/ on a Galaxy S5 for a long time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      /e/ is what I'm running on my Fairphone 2. Fairphone have been ignoring a wi-fi bug that's been registered for more than 2 years now. That's why I ditched Fairphone's own version of Android and went for /e/ instead. It runs perfectly.

    2. Cuddles

      This is actually mentioned in other articles about this. LineageOS is a free project run by volunteers and you install it on your phone at your own risk. That's a very different proposition from a company providing updates as part of a paid contract. All the tests, signing off by Google, and so on that the article mentions are things LineageOS doesn't need to deal with. If installing Lineage bricks your phone, that's your problem. If an official update from the manufacturer bricks your phone, it's their problem.

  4. petefoth

    /e/ OS for FP2 is now on Android 10 / Q

    There is now an officially supported Android 10 / Q build of /e/ for Fairphone 2 see

  5. Robert2coffee

    Honestly, smartphones have become boring. Give me a RHEL type 12 year support with same icons/settings. all good.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I have a 2007 Dell computer that original came with Visa that has been repurposed to run Linux and is now used a media centre, and Its fairly stock as it was in 2007 other than having the RAM upped to 4GB from the original 2GB. But yet phones that are less than 5 years old are often now classed as obsolete which seems a pity as I am sure the hardware would be more than capable if the software updates where available.

  7. Phil Kingston

    I'm still perplexed at people's expectations that their devices will receive updates.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      I’m not sure what the ‘big dogs’ means in the article.

      Current IOS14 is still good on the venerable iPhone 6S from Sep 2015.

      Apple’s support for older devices is really pretty good and always has been.

      Shame their in-warranty support is bullshit/weasel-like around IPX68 certification and water-resistance though.

  8. CJatCTi

    Who still uses a 5 year old "smartphone"

    Phones are getting better but how many 5 year old phones are actualy out their still working?

    In the days of the Nokia Communicator and when smartphones had a physical keyboard, very few of mine reached their 2nd birthday. Now with no moving parts they last longer but with battery life / broken screens / higher hardware requiremants to be usable. Who actualy uses a 5 year old phone as their main everyday phone?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Who still uses a 5 year old "smartphone"

      Well, me for one. My main phone is from 2016. Why? Because the newer phones provide only a few benefits. They're larger. That's a downside for me. They have more cameras. Given that I use the camera maybe four times a year to demonstrate something, that's not very important. They have 5G. If I was using my data connection outside WiFi range a lot, this would... probably not make a difference because 5G coverage is still limited. As it is, I don't use the data connection very often and 4G has been just fine for it. They have faster CPUs, which I wouldn't mind, but I don't do heavy lifting with my phone's CPU so its speed is relatively unimportant to me. I have nothing that I want from a new phone, and by not spending money on a new phone, I can have the ability to buy something else which will be more useful.

    2. jtaylor

      Re: Who still uses a 5 year old "smartphone"

      Phones are getting better but how many 5 year old phones are actualy out their still working?

      My iPhone SE works perfectly and I just installed the latest IOS update. It was released March 2016, exactly 5 years ago.

  9. doublelayer Silver badge

    Who's heard this before?

    "In December, Qualcomm and Google teamed up to re-architect how Android versions are made, aiming to increase the number of OS versions a device will receive. These changes, which apply to devices released with Android 11 and the Snapdragon 888 or newer, will conceivably allow vendors to provide three major software upgrades."

    How many times has Google re-architected Android in order to make it easier to update? Or easier to install the newest version on something? I've heard this over and over and over. Android 2.2 was supposed to help with this. It was one of the selling points of Android 4.1. It was announced with fanfair sometime around the release of Android 7. And it was announced with triumph that Android 8.1 would finally achieve it. They're just lying, aren't they? Either the manufacturer tries or they don't, and the architecture means it's trivially easy for chipset designers not to hand the solution over to a manufacturer which in turn decides not to do the work themselves. Google clearly doesn't care.

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