Just as the complete smartphone package involves both the hardware and the software experience, keeping a phone around for as long as possible also requires both parts to also keep on working. Fairphone’s promise of a sustainable and almost immortal smartphone would fall a bit short if it stopped pushing out updates while still keeping the phone’s components supported. In line with that mission, the Dutch-based company is making the grand announcement that its six-year-old Fairphone 2 will be receiving Android 10 soon, something that no other smartphone maker has been able to pull off.
2015 almost feels ancient by smartphone standards, even if it was only six years ago. That becomes even more apparent when you read the Fairphone 2’s spec sheet, which lists a Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM, and a 12MP main camera. It also launched with Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is definitely prehistoric in Android history by now.
But that is exactly the kind of phone that would test Fairphone’s promise of a sustainable and long-lasting smartphone. The company continues to sell replacement parts for the phone, including the display, the camera modules, and the battery. Now it is proudly revealing that it is continuing that same support for the Fairphone 2’s software, despite the difficulties it experienced with the Android 9 update earlier this year.
According to Fairphone, it has learned its lessons back then and has also enlisted the help of its fans to improve its process. Instead of the 18-month journey it went through from Android 7.1 Nougat to Android 9 Pie, it only took it ten months this time around. That’s thanks to the help of its community as well as volunteer developers working on the open source parts of Android during that period.
This is definitely an achievement that Fairphone can be proud of and something that OEMs should aspire to emulate. Granted, the company only has a comparatively smaller number of phones to support, but the modular nature of these phones also complicates the software support process. Fairphone is also a significantly smaller company with fewer resources to throw at software updates, so it’s still no small feat that it will be able to offer Android 10 to Fairphone 2 owners.
The beta testing for this update is starting this week, and Fairphone expects that the stable version will be available by early 2022. Also starting this week is the Android 11 beta test for the Fairphone 3. Although it’s still a bit late, it’s still encouraging that Fairphone is able to provide software support this long, and it might get even faster as its racks up the experience, knowledge, and tools to roll out Android updates faster.