Sustainable smartphone manufacturer Fairphone has been awarded Google certification for its Android 9 update to the Fairphone 2. Getting certification for a nearly three-year-old version of Android doesn’t sound that impressive until you realize it’s running on a phone that’s originally five years old released. ago when it ran Android 5. The software rollout begins today and will continue through April 18, Fairphone says.
It’s a length of support that’s basically unheard of among Android phone manufacturers. While Fairphone 2 owners will not be able to enjoy the latest Android 11 features, it is more important that they are running a version of Android that is still officially supported. Google’s latest Android security bulletin this month includes several fixes for security vulnerabilities in Android 9.
The Fairphone 2’s 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 supporting such an old phone, including the fact that Qualcomm no longer offers support for the processor in the device, a Snapdragon 801, which was originally announced in 2014.
“Achieving Google Android 9 certification for Fairphone 2 just as we reached five years of smartphone support is a tremendous achievement for Fairphone,” said Eva Gouwens, CEO of Fairphone. “To get certification, we had to pass about 477,000 Google tests.”
“We want to show the industry that things like this are possible, that a smartphone doesn’t have to be thrown away after 2-3 years, we can extend its lifespan,” added the CEO.
The only other smartphone manufacturer to offer comparable support durations for its devices is Apple, which last year released iOS 14, the latest phone operating system, for its 2015 iPhone 6S. Android manufacturers, while standing behind Apple, are improving . Samsung is now offering four years of security updates for its recent Galaxy devices, while Google is offering three years of updates for its Pixel phones, and OnePlus says it will plans to release Android 11 for the 2018 OnePlus 6 and 6T
The Fairphone 2’s update to Android 9 so long after its release bodes well for the company’s long-term support for its more recent 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 “another major Android upgrade” after that. Software support and spare parts availability will continue through 2024.