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If Fairphone can update its 6-year-old phone to Android 10, so can other OEMs

News
By
November 23, 2021
The FairPhone 2.
TL;DR
  • The Fairphone 2 — launched in 2015 — will soon receive Android 10.
  • The company originally launched the phone with Android 5 Lollipop.
  • If this tiny company can support its phones that long, why can’t other OEMs?

The company known as Fairphone has an idealistic ethos: it wants to make smartphones fair and ethical. It offers modular devices produced using recycled and sustainable materials and ensures the procurement of those materials is ethical. For folks who are really concerned about how exploitative tech production can be, this company could be just what the doctor ordered.

See also: Hands-on with the Fairphone 3

Of course, a huge aspect of sustainability is long-term support. It wouldn’t be ethical if people bought a phone and then got rid of it a year later. That’s why Fairphone provides a very long update promise to its devices, with proof of that being today’s announcement that it will send Android 10 to the Fairphone 2.

If you own a Fairphone 2, you can start beta testing Android 10 now. The company expects to push the stable release in early 2022.

If Fairphone can do it, anyone can

The second generation of Fairphone dropped in 2015 with Android 5 Lollipop on board. Since then, it’s been updated through to Android 9 Pie. Once it receives Android 10, the FP2 will have seen four different versions of Android (it skipped Android 8 Oreo). This stands in stark contrast to the bulk of other Android OEMs that struggle to offer even two Android versions — despite being larger companies with deeper pockets.

Yes, Android 10 is two generations old at this point, so this might not seem that impressive. But, when you consider how small Fairphone’s resources are — and how it’s updating phones without any help from Qualcomm or other hardware companies — it’s actually pretty jaw-dropping. A big part of that success is the volunteers who donate their time to help develop and test these new software updates.

Thankfully, some companies are raising the bar. Samsung now supports almost all of its phones with three Android upgrades and four years of security patches. Google now offers a slightly better program of three upgrades and five years of patches (albeit only for the Pixel 6 series right now). Things are getting better, yes, but there are still way too many companies that treat after-market software support as unimportant.