There is only one other phone from the last five years (that isn't also a Fairphone) that has a score better than an 8/10 on ifixit's 'repairability score'. Well done!
It is not only well supported in LineageOS, but also most alternative phone OSes such as UBports (Ubuntu Touch), Sailfish and postmarketOS have or have had people actively using the hardware.
It's quite a good track record considering the Fairphone 2 is already twice the age the minimum software update guarantee from Google for their own hardware.
There's nothing wrong with LineageOS and I'm not criticizing their work. They do a great job keeping phones supported past the time when manufacturers have dropped support. But the Android community is far too willing to trust ROMs downloaded from forums that include who-knows-what and calling it "solid software support".
Solid software support is updates from the manufacturer, the company I originally trusted to provide updates when I bought the phone. If I have to rely on the work of people who once called themselves "Team Douche"  because the company who released the original software has stopped support, I'm not considering that "solid software support".
Comparing LineageOS with the custom ROMs on XDA really misrepresents their professionalism. LineageOS development does not take place on XDA. It takes place on their own infrastructure like any other high-quality open source operating system. Builds are made from public sources and signed by their build server (they definitely don't just include "who-knows-what.") They ship security patches faster than any manufacturer (except Google,) and I don't see any reason not to trust them as much as or more than your manufacturer. LOS-supported phones are well supported.
True, but that's a minor difference. The normal way to get Android OS updates is through your device manufacturer, like the normal way to get Windows updates is from Microsoft. The normal way to get Windows updates is not from a torrent found on some random forum, and that's not the normal way to get Android updates either.
>Comparing LineageOS with the custom ROMs on XDA really misrepresents their professionalism
I agree and that's why I said I'm not calling them out... but again they're not the normal way to get OS updates. It's out-of-band and while LineageOS may be professional, it's not professional to have to abandon the normal update mechanism just to continue to receive OS updates.
LineageOS is still community support, and community support is not "solid software support". It's community support.
> I agree and that's why I said I'm not calling them out
You kind of are. You've mentioned that you don't want to download OS updates from forums a number of times in response to people mentioning LineageOS, but official LOS ports are not distributed through forums (or torrents for that matter.) You also brought up an old, somewhat embarrassing name that their development team apparently used to call themselves. It seems a lot like you're trying to discredit them.
I'm not trying to discredit Lineage. I'm trying to discredit the Android software update process. Lineage makes it better but it is not strong software support if you have to rely on the community to deliver out-of-band security updates.
Lineage is better than nothing, but only because the current Android update process is so broken. If Android was any other OS, getting updates from the hardware manufacturer or the community would both be laughed at. This process only seems normal on Android because the Android update process is so hopelessly broken because the original software vendor refuses to distribute their own updates.
My guess is maybe you'd be happier with an iThing.
Nonsense. CyanogenMod started off as a forum-sourced ROM on XDA just like anything else . It may have grown beyond that, but only because people blindly trusted it and installed it on their phones 10 years ago, and XDA is still distributing hacked ROMs in the exact same fashion today.
> A build guide is available for developers that would like to make private builds, or even restart official support.
Edit: I should add that although I've already ordered my Fairphone 3 I've not had a chance to actually test it out yet. If anyone is interested I can post a 25 EUR discount referral link?
I'm not sure they are supported in the US but it looks like you are well aware of that.
We really need to stop giving a fuck about manufacturer images and demand that the industry ceases to lock bootloaders so we don't have to wait on them to update anything.
Demand from the Linux kernel developers that the internal APIs for drivers are kept stable for a much longer time.
I want updates from a company who can be held accountable. Not some random ROM from XDA.
It kind of broke the promise of repairable, sustainable hardware if the chipset provider obsoleted the device through lack of updates in less than a year of ownership.
While 4.4 wasn't brilliant, I could have continued on with it - but I was uncomfortable using such an increasingly insecure OS.
I'm going to pay attention to this brand; it's very promising. But they still have a lot of work to do before its sustainable.
>If you hope to upgrade your Fairphone 2 with these modules, we have bad news. Modules and their inner parts are not compatible. But their housings are said to be produced from 50% recycled polycarbonate, so there's at least some reuse!
I have no idea, I was just speculating that in theory it should be possible to create a base phone that can be upgraded continuously.
Yes, that is exactly what we need to have happen.
So why not with phones too? All it would require is to standardize dimensions and power connectors for system boards etc. It doesn't even require absolute uniformity. You can have the equivalent of mATX, ATX, E-ATX, etc. for different size devices, as long as the board dimensions and connectors for a ~6" phone are the same as for another ~6" phone.
It's not just the case and monitor. Drive bays have standard sizes and mounting (2.5", 3.5", 5.25"), the SATA connector has been the same since its introduction even though modern systems support higher speeds using it (and is also electrically compatible with the SAS connector and SAS HBAs typically support both), expansion cards have standard dimensions and use standard PCIe slots, etc.
They'll make breaking changes from time to time (e.g. PATA to SATA, PCI to PCIe), but it's typically a decade or more between them and then many systems will support both for years after that. PCIe was introduced in 2003 but you can still find new systems with 32-bit PCI slots, and SATA to PATA adapters are available.
If you want to you can build a PC with the latest CPU, install a SCSI HBA into it and connect that to a hard drive from the 1980s that will fit into the same drive bay as a modern 3.5" hard drive.
Granted there are more space constraints in a phone, but that doesn't mean you can't do it at all. And an iMac or Mac Mini is not ATX. There is no law requiring every device to follow every part of the standard if it's necessary to satisfy some other constraint. But a G5 iMac is basically slag; the contemporaneous ATX PC has half a dozen components that could plausibly be reused in a modern PC.
DLT one (Damn Linux Tablet) is a project I recently discovered on Hackaday that’s taking this approach. One of the two SoMs being considered uses a SoC very similar to the one chosen for the Purism Librem 5. The other SoM is a Jetson Nano.
As far as the physical side, how upgradeable is a typical laptop relative to a desktop? Some laptops let you upgrade the RAM, maybe the disk. But none offer processor, camera, speaker, keyboard, trackpad, internal wifi/bluetooth, or screen upgrades. PCMCIA is dead. There are hardly any removable batteries any more— and those that are do not have a standard interface or form factor.
So take all of those issues and shrink everything down by a further order of magnitude. It's not hard to see that making a phone with upgradeable internal components is a very tall order.
A phone is a more limited device that isn't bound by the same constraints as a laptop. I don't think the case is as hopeless as you imply. Something like Ara: https://www.extremetech.com/computing/193256-googles-project...
At which point is it better to just build 12 non-repairable phones instead of 10 repairable ones + some spare parts?
Take, for example, the user-serviceable battery with its thick casing. Given that you'd expect to swap it 1-2 times during the useful lifetime of a phone platform, does it need to be that easy to swap, or would it be OK to require some level of disassembly?
Not "melt the glue, pull with suction cup, pry open, disconnect 15 connectors, loosen two sets of 8 screws (all different), remove all innards, replace some single-use parts" level of disassembly, something like "losen two screws, pry off the back, loosen two more screws, swap battery" like with the Nexus 4: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Nexus+4+Battery+Replacement/130...
We don't complain when we take a wristwatch to a watch shop at the corner to swap the battery every few years, waiting a few minutes and paying $5-10 for the service and another $5 for the battery. I would be perfectly OK with a phone that works like that: Repairable (especially commonly swapped parts), but not average-user-servicable.
Edit: Looking at the Fairphone 3, it doesn't look as bad. I remember looking at the Fairphone 2, which looked like a brick made of cheap plastic all around.
>How many of those phones will need repairs? How much more resources have to be spent, and what other trade-offs have to be made, to enable that repairability?
Judging by the large amount of phone repair shops in existence, we already have the answer.
>(One of the trade-offs being less economy-of-scale because not as many people are willing to buy a bulky yet expensive phone.)
Why do you assume that the phone has to be bulky? That's simply a lack of imagination on the part of designers..
This is based on an assumption that making the device serviceable is actually going to help with this. I'm pretty sure that's just an assumption, mostly based on a hope that we can keep consuming like we do and somehow not wreck the planet if we just pick a phone with "fair" in its name.
> That's essentially whats happening with iphones, because Apple refuses to give customers the option to take their phones to reputable repair shops by prohibiting suppliers to sell to repair-shops, or in some cases using DRM to prevent repair.
Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
> Why do you assume that the phone has to be bulky? That's simply a lack of imagination on the part of designers..
I can imagine a phone that's also a horse and a vacuum cleaner, but it's not imagination that helps. Extra demands restrict options.
Why wound reparability not help with this? Especially since you note that we can't keep living like we do: Reparability is an active attempt to reduce the harmful effects of consuming by reducing waste.
> Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
Bringing it to Apple for repair might take weeks to process, a repair shop might not always be available and I might lose my local data. That's definitely a lot more friction than ordering a new battery (or hypothetically even buying it at the store) and taking a few minutes to put it in, all in the comfort of my home.
Why would it?
> Especially since you note that we can't keep living like we do: Reparability is an active attempt to reduce the harmful effects of consuming by reducing waste.
Or is it an active attempt to soothe our consciences without sacrificing very much?
> Bringing it to Apple for repair might take weeks to process, a repair shop might not always be available and I might lose my local data. That's definitely a lot more friction than ordering a new battery (or hypothetically even buying it at the store) and taking a few minutes to put it in, all in the comfort of my home.
Do you know _why_ most phones are filled with glue? Vibration resistance. You're going to mess with far more than replacing the battery, meanwhile the expected lifetime of an unrepairable phone is limited by software updates and carrier support anyway.
We are choosing between repairing phones versus tossing them in the garbage. I can see which one is better for the planet, given that phones are purchased in the millions..
>Apple actually takes the old phones and is fairly good at recycling and/or refurbishing them. If you're going to toss your phone with that being the case, I somehow doubt you'd repair them either.
The "you" here is reputable repair shops. I don't have the skills to repair my phone, nor do I want to. There are forums littered with people taking their phone to the Apple store and being told that they need to buy a new one, when all they had to do was replace a capacitor that costs 5 cents, or given the standard lie about water damage, or being told to replace the entire motherboard for a component failure, etc, etc.
Okay, you can say that Apples policy on repair is such and such due to the cost of labor involved, and that would have been fine if the consumer had another option to go to. But Apple fights tooth and nail to restrict legitimate repair businesses from purchasing spare parts from suppliers, and providing repairs that Apple refuses to, which makes it worse.
>I can imagine a phone that's also a horse and a vacuum cleaner, but it's not imagination that helps. Extra demands restrict options.
That's ridiculous. i'm talking about a reasonable design compromise. In any case, I'll believe your statement when talented phone designers apply their creativity to this problem, and fail to make a sleek and repairable phone. Due to the commercial aspect, most phone makers are unfortunately focused on getting you to buy a new phone every 2 years, and so the focus is not on making it repairable.
The fair towards users regarding repairability is just an additional positive.
Remember FORD? Easy to repair, but you might have to Fix Or Repair Daily. Don't be that company.
Also, as a user of a more recent phone with good battery life and wireless charging, the battery never dies so I've never felt the need to swap it.
On a side note, I feel that the rampant accusations of shilling lower the quality of discourse here and are indicative of a failure of empathy or theory of mind.
To compare, 5 years ago the Nexus 6 was released, and had its EOL 3 years ago. The iPhone 6 did slightly better, with the last software release being 12.x which was released last year (and only just got superseded yesterday).
Expecting more than 5 years of support is pretty ridiculous, given industry trends and just the evolution of phones and technology in general in the span of 5 years.
Why not have a phone for 10 or 20 years, especially if the tech plateaus? I think a fair and good revenue model would be a modest software subscription fee - something like $20-50/year feels right.
I'll be interested to see what options there will be at the five-year mark: I'd guess that there would be options for non-official firmware.
Technically achievable with open source, but even OSS projects come to an end.
Depends on the project. With necessary projects to operate still-used technology, I don't know that OSS projects actually end (without drop-in replacements) very often.
Apple is pretty good about supporting older hardware, but I feel like we reached a point in the last few years where phones are powerful enough that upgrades cycles could be five years for an average consumer. So it should be expected that security fixes would be available for longer.
A solution to this is having an upstream kernel (like mainline Linux) work on the phone, and having fairly standard hardware in the phone with in-kernel drivers and free / standard libraries instead of these shitty blobs we need on current phones, and crappy unmaintainable Linux forks.
Android 9 works on my nine year old airis kira slimpad x86 tablet sold with Windows 7. It runs a standard Xubuntu though. And yes, the latest Ubuntu with latest security patches.
I don't rely on the manufacturer. It just works with standard software. Have the OS builders and hardware device makers maintain each part for you.
This is not the world we live in though. In our world, Qualcomm and Samsung make their messy Linux forks and don't seem to maintain their Shit on a Chip.
The Librem 5 is promising on this matter though.
Android 4.4 still gets the latest version of Chrome (6 years later), and the Play Services is updated too.
In comparison when an Apple device stops getting updates, you are stuck with an insecure Safari version, so the device becomes unsafe to use for browsing.
Edit: Nokia phones are providing 2 years of version update (from release), followed by 3 years of security updates (and presumably browser updates for many years after that). Not bad for say the more expensive Nokia 7.2 at USD350. Disclaimer: I'm a Nokia 7+ owner (very happy with it too).
You probably can’t take a 10 or 15 year old cell phone and expect it to work on any carrier out there today.
There is an upper bound to how long a phone will even worn on a network...
I believe that the Nokia 3310, released 19 years ago, is still compatible with many networks nowadays (with somewhat degraded coverage). GSM turndowns: https://1ot.mobi/blog/2g-and-3g-networks-are-shutting-down-g...
I never got to the point where I replaced a hardware component because the software problems, especially software update problems, and perhaps some mild hardware problems, meant I eventually gave up and used another phone. I hope FF3 is a vast improvement.
Edit: I see lineage has a ROM for FF2 giving it Android 8.1. That wasn't there when I used my FF. It may have given me a good experience.
The LineageOS 16 OS is based on AOSP / Android 9.x Pi; not 8.x Oreo. That was LineageOS 15.
(We also don't use the acronym "FF"; we use the acronym "FP".)
> I had a fairphone about three years ago (I'm guessing fairphone 2). [...] There were no custom ROMs for it either - hopefully there are now.
I have a Fairphone 2 (FP2) for 4 years, and what you say is untrue. There have been alternative OSes for Fairphone for ages. Fairphone delivered a version of FPOS called Fairphone Open. It is Android without OpenGapps.
The OSes which have been around the past 4 years on FP2:
* SailfishOS (community edition)
* FirefoxOS [now defunct]
* Ubuntu Touch
* LineageOS (for approx 2-3 years?)
* /e/ (more recent, but also a newcomer)
* PostmarketOS (more recent)
Especially the SailfishOS port has been around for ages, by community member mal (who now works for Jolla). Ubuntu Touch I'm not sure about when that was released, but it was the main development device for UT.
Assuming good faith on your behalf, are you sure this was 3 years ago? From the information you post, it was likely 5 years ago or so, and a Fairphone 1.
If FP could supply an uptodate stock Android version with painless update procedure I'd be happy to try again.
This looks like Android 8? https://lineageosroms.com/fp2/
Fairphone delivers an uptodate version of Android on FP2 insofar that it has all the latest security patches despite efforts from Qualcomm to not support the SD 801 anymore. Android 7 officially does not support SD 801 either (via Google) but Fairphone delivered. The community even managed to run an Android 9 fork on it (LineageOS 16).
What you linked looks like a second hand, not updated source.
I am running LineageOS on the FP2 as my daily driver (with microG). Many in the community run it both with and without microG. LOS 16 works. See also this source 
If an easily repairable phone breaks, it's not a big deal.
It was most expensive model at the time. I know people who have dirt cheap laptop 10 years, this macbook pro crap is like 3 years. Unbelivable. My macbook pro from 2014 is starting to get bloated battery I think as well.
I don't understand the distinction. The MBP is hard to fix because most repairs require a 2-week ground shipment both ways.
I've had my Pixel XL for about 2.5 years. I'm planning to replace it in the next six months only because the battery is getting worn out—the performance of the device is still very good.
Awful. Who came up with the idea of going through the front? Took me like 10 minutes with my last two Xiaomi phones.
With enough maturity there could be a new market to sell modules for very different purposes than phone manufactures intended (ie: you can use the drive bays in PC case for a variety of components, not just “drives”, and it will work as long as it interface with the motherboard)
People throw away phones that work perfectly well except for one simple component. E.g. the body and all the electronics are sent to the landfill even if it's just the screen that's broken.
That is to say, a mainstream phone’s production is so optimized and streamlined, that the weighted average environmental impact of making 10 more (e.g. iPhones) is significantly less than the weighted average environmental cost of making 1 Fairphone.
Maybe if you factor in the value of performance art and political proselytizing then you can justify it!
In the end the core module also started becoming unstable (I have to emphasize though that the phone had endured a lot of physical abuse, as well as certain apps that probably overheated the CPU more than a few times) and I had to replace it two months ago. If the FP3 had been announced earlier I would have bought it instead of the phone I ended up replacing the FP2 with.
Economically, sure—manufacturers optimize to be as cost-effective as possible.
I agree that the lack of repairability requirements and the sheer volume of production make it plausible such optimisations could have happened. But we know neither whether they happened, nor the scale of the benefits. Unless you're Tim Cook I guess, in which case bring back iPhone 5S form factor.
(Would be interested in any links to studies or economic models in this area though.)
It’s sort of a backwards way of thinking about the “Marginal Abatement Cost Function” (MAC) which is non-linear at the point you decide to go from producing 1 unit of output to shuttering the factory entirely.
At the point where you are producing 36 million phones, the marginal economic cost is at its lowest. The marginal economic cost of your first unit, by comparison, is a massive step function.
Which is why I started by saying it’s a morose way of looking at things, because you get stuck in a local minimum that way.
For myself, I would have no problem popping it open to replace parts. It would be great to get 5-6 (planned) years of use out of a single device. For family, that I regularly provide "tech support" for, it would be great to repair their phones instead of being beholden to some "bar", on the other side of town, requiring in-person visits/appointments for $100+ repairs.
We could just get it done at the kitchen table.
Readily available and easily installable replacement parts are certainly useful for anyone planning on keeping a phone for more than a few years, just like with cars.
Addionally it seems it's backwards compatible - you can use an USB charger, but at slower rate?
I also wonder if the repairability will really impact repair costs. Swapping a battery is one thing, but if the phone isn't mass produced in sufficient qualities then getting replacement screens might not be much cheaper. Other repairs seem much less likely to be needed-- battery and screen probably account for a huge majority of repair issues.
Just that something broke and fixing it was almost as much as getting a new one. Or the software was full of security holes or incompatibilities, and no way of upgrading.
Honestly phones are pretty much where PCs are now, upgrading every year is pointless except for certain specific use cases, and something that can last 4-5 years with minor repairs and regular software updates is enough for the vast majority of users.
My only concern with the Fairphone is the high initial price.