After over seven years and 43 software updates, Fairphone’s second-generation Android smartphone is finally reaching the end of its software support period. The company says today’s software update for Android 10 will be the phone’s last, capping off a remarkably long support period for a phone that originally ran Android 5 when it started shipping in 2015. Not bad considering Fairphone says it had originally hoped to support the phone with “three to five years” of updates.
These kinds of lengthy support periods are important for Fairphone, given the company’s emphasis on the sustainability of its devices. As well as attempting to ethically source the materials that go into each of its phones, the company also designs them to be easily repairable (with spare parts available for years after release), and it also promises lengthy software support periods. It’s all about keeping the devices usable for longer, and out of landfill.
“We recommend that you avoid using apps that access sensitive data after May 2023”
Seven years is a longer support period than any other Android manufacturer promises. Google, Samsung, and most recently OnePlus now offer up to five years of security updates for their phones, while 2022’s iOS 16 is available for devices going back to 2017’s iPhone 8. That equates to five years of major version updates, though it’s worth noting that Apple continues to provide security patches for older iOS 15-compatible devices.
Fairphone outlined what the end of this support period means for the approximately 15,000 Fairphone 2 phones still in use in a blog post earlier this year. In short, the end of software support doesn’t mean that remaining phones will immediately break, but any bugs or security issues that are discovered won’t be fixed going forward.
“We recommend that you avoid using apps that access sensitive data after May 2023; if there is a severe vulnerability that the Fairphone 2 is susceptible to, we won’t be able to fix it,” Fairphone’s head of software longevity Agnes Crepet wrote. “Some security-critical apps – like banking apps – will, over time, view the device as out of date and stop running entirely.”
If you need a more immediate incentive to stop using the phone, then Fairphone is offering a €50 voucher for its online store to anyone that sends the phone into its “Reuse and Recycling Program” before the end of the month. That’s money you could theoretically put towards the Fairphone 4, a more up-to-date device released in 2021 that the company is aiming to provide six years of software support for.
The Fairphone 2’s last major Android release was version 10, which got a stable release on the handset last year. Spare parts for the handset will continue to be available while stocks last.
“The end of life for Fairphone 2 is bittersweet because in the ideal world, we’d support our devices indefinitely, but due to industry and financial constraints, that is simply not feasible,” said Crepet in a statement. “But we are happy we can say we supported Fairphone 2 for an unprecedented seven years.”