Sustainable smartphone maker Fairphone got certified by Google for its Android 9 update to Fairphone 2. Getting certified for a nearly three-year-old version of Android doesn’t sound all that impressive until you realize you’re running on a The phone originally launched five years ago when it was running Android 5. The software rollout begins today and will continue through April 18, Fairphone says.
It is a duration of support that is basically unknown among Android phone manufacturers. Although Fairphone 2 owners will not be able to enjoy the latest Android 11 features, the most important thing is that they are running a version of Android that is still officially supported. The latest Android security bulletin from Google this month includes several fixes for security issues in Android 9.
The Fairphone 2 Android 9 update has been in the works for a while and was released in beta in June 2020. At the time, Fairphone outlined the challenges it had in trying to support such an old phone, including the fact that Qualcomm no longer provides support for the processor within the device, a Snapdragon 801, which was originally announced in 2014.
“Getting Google certified for Android 9 for Fairphone 2 just as we reached five years of smartphone support is a great achievement for Fairphone,” says Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens. “To get certified, we had to pass approximately 477,000 Google tests.”
“We want to show the industry that this kind of thing is possible, that a smartphone does not have to be thrown away after 2 or 3 years, we can extend its useful life,” added the CEO.
The only other smartphone maker to offer a similar duration of support for its devices is Apple, which last year released iOS 14, its latest phone operating system, for its 2015 iPhone 6S. Android makers, though behind Apple, they are getting better. Samsung now offers four years of security updates for its recent Galaxy devices, while Google offers three years of updates for its Pixel phones, and OnePlus says it plans to release Android 11 for its OnePlus 6 and 6T 2018.
Upgrading the Fairphone 2 to Android 9 long after launch bodes well for the company’s long-term support of its latest Fairphone 3 and 3 Plus phones. The company says the phones should be updated to Android 11 in the second half of this year, with “a major Android update” thereafter. Software support and spare parts availability is anticipated to continue through 2024.