Long-Lasting Design

Fairphone 1 upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 coming soon

Long-Lasting Design

We’ve got some happy news for Fairphone 1 owners: A full upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat is on its way! It’s been quite the journey to get this far, but thanks to the persistence of our software team, we’re almost there.

Read the latest news and updates in this dedicated thread on our forum.

Software updates (and upgrade) ensure a longer-lasting phone

At Fairphone, one of our primary goals is longevity – in other words, we want to keep your phone working for as long as possible, so you don’t need to replace it as often. And secure, up-to-date software is essential to achieving this goal. That’s why, despite the ongoing challenges, we’ve been working hard to try to offer software updates to Fairphone 1 owners.

Back in 2014, we gave you some insight into the difficulties in providing updates beyond Android 4.2, and how we were trying to address these issues. Many of the hurdles had to do with the fact that we were dependent on third parties. In the end, the only way to move forward was to secure access to the source code and take matters into our own hands. In September 2015 we finally secured the licenses that allowed us to modify and distribute the Fairphone 1 software.

A couple of months ago, we received an official port of KitKat for the platform on which the Fairphone 1 was built. Since then, we’ve been working on adapting the entire code base to work with the specific Fairphone 1 hardware, as well as integrating the custom elements of the original Fairphone 1 image back into the new version. And while eliminating our reliance on external partners has given us more control, it has also meant that we’re doing all the development in-house… so we’d like to thank you for your patience!

Launch currently set for beginning of September

The last software update for the Fairphone 1 was released in August 2015, which primarily included bug fixes and security fixes (including “Stagefright”) for Android 4.2.2. In contrast to the previous release, the upcoming launch will be a full update to Android 4.4 KitKat. This will be a huge achievement on our side, especially because we weren’t sure that it would ever be possible. Very few phones built on the same platform have been upgraded actually.

And we’re nearly ready to share it with you. Based on our current planning, we expect to release the new update at the beginning of September. Until then, we’ll be busy with a few more tweaks and fixes. And then testing, testing and more testing, of course! If you’d like to participate in community testing of the alpha version, please read the instructions on our forum.

What will come in this version?

You’ll be able to see all the details in the release notes once the update is live, but here are a few of the advantages of Android 4.4 that we think you’ll be most excited about:

  • Better security: Google is still supporting Android 4.4 with frequent updates (whereas 4.2 was no longer supported)
  • Better support for apps: 4.4 still makes up a major portion of the Android marketplace, so it will work with a wider range of apps than 4.2
  • Improved interface: All the functionality of Android 4.4 plus a few Fairphone extras
  • Bluetooth LE: Added Bluetooth Low-Energy support

AndroidGraphJune16

Most Android phones run Android 5 Lollipop (35%) closely followed by Android 4.4 Kitkat (31%) and 4.2 Jellybean (19%). Fairphone 1 now joins the second largest group.  (Data collected by Google during a 7-day period ending on June 6, 2016)
Source: Android Developers, Platform Versions
After we launch this version, we plan to support it with security updates for at least as long as Google keeps providing them, and hopefully much longer. In the long term, is unlikely that we will be able to offer a full update beyond Android 4.4 for the Fairphone 1.

Keep an eye on your phone (and inbox)

As I mentioned above, it will take us a few more weeks to iron out the remaining bugs and complete the final round of testing. As soon as the update goes live, you’ll get a notification from the updater app, and we’ll also send you an email just to be sure. It’s also worth noting that the new update is only designed for Fairphone 1 with the unified storage partition.

If you didn’t update your storage layout yet, here’s a friendly reminder to do it now before the upcoming software release. And remember to make a good backup first!

We’re really looking forward to getting Android 4.4 on your phones! Once it’s ready, you’ll be the first to know.

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21 responses to “Fairphone 1 upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 coming soon”

  1. Martin Kedaj says:

    Is there any progress on this plans? September has always passed and I see coming that Android 4.4 is soon also out of support.

  2. Daniel says:

    Dear Lovely Fairphoners! Iam waiting longing for the new Update!!! 🙁 Its November now.. any news? Kind regards, Daniel

  3. msel says:

    Hello Fairphone-Team,
    I´d like to stress the same question as my previous commenters:
    Will there be an Software-Update for FP1 as discussed in the article?

    Best regards
    Martin

  4. uwen says:

    Hello Fairphoners,
    There are any news for an update for fairphone 1 to a newer version of android os, e.g. version 4.4? You promised it for september, now is december. What about custom comunication?

  5. crunchy melon says:

    Jeah….not even google maps works anymore woth android 4.2.2….it should have been obvious to you that this software won’t work for a long time..

    • seaf says:

      Google maps works in my FP1U just fine. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate the upgrade, but 4.2.2 still has quite a significant market share

  6. Christian says:

    This update “strategy” has really nothing to do with fair products. After 2.5 years i’m forced to buy a new smartphone. I recommend all frustrated FP1/FP1U owners the new SONY Xperia X Compact.

  7. Harald Siebelist says:

    It looks like fairphone is nothing better than Samsung and equal companies. Strategy is: to sell every 2 years a new telephone. Fair means for them only a sales feature but not reality. We have to buy it all 2 years new so no resources are saved. The got the big Prices for the fairphone 2 but in two years we have to buy fairphone 3 because the OS isn´t compatible to the actual Apps. But be sure there is nobody in Company fairphone who reads the post, they are only interested in publicity for fairphone 2. THAT IS NOT FAIR!

  8. Susanne says:

    It is disappointing, no update and no communication. Is there anybody working on the update at all?

  9. linda says:

    Will there be an Software-Update for FP1 as discussed in the article?
    It is disappointing, no update and no communication.

  10. Jochen says:

    The communication strategy regarding this update is a desaster….not really understandable to treat the first generation like this!!!

  11. Patient FP1 Android 4.2 User says:

    Dear Fairphone team, you have the privilege and advantage of loyal customers that patiently support your quest for fairer electronics. We know very well, that you are a small team and appreciate your efforts for sustainability. However, we do feel very mislead, taken for granted and simply unimportant to you if you do not respond even once to the many customers here that have the right to ask what happened to the update you promised last June. You don’t do good to yourself treating us like this. And yes, we do understand it takes you longer. Yes, we can wait 5 months longer than what you promised initially. Yes, we understand you don’t even know after 5 months how long it will still take you. But SAY something! What stage are you on? Did you pull your developer off the project? What issues do you face? PLEASE do communicate with us, be fair to your customers also, not just the workers!

  12. nubera says:

    Make FP1 last! Pleeeeaase! How should I recommend fair electronics to my friends otherwise? “Hey, it’s fair (but you’ll need a new one in two years)!”

  13. Linda says:

    Any news on this? Still waiting and the patience is getting less!

  14. Dorie says:

    Hi guys, can you tell us FP1-owners something new about the Software-Update? Well, will there be an Software-Update at all..?

  15. Martin says:

    Could you just give us, the stupid FP1-Users, any form of communication?

  16. Alex says:

    Same question: please could you tell us when there will be an update!?! Otherwise I have to buy me a new phone – just after a few years: this is not what I expected and wanted to support 🙁

  17. El Nico says:

    Just for everyone who’s come here and is frustrated about no updates:
    There are updates in this thread: https://forum.fairphone.com/t/latest-news-11-01-2017-and-faq-fairphone-1-kitkat-4-4-4-update/23037
    The latest, as of today, is from a week ago. Stay tuned. 🙂

  18. Jürg Grunder says:

    Nothing new?

  19. Ba'ku says:

    Today it is 1 year. I wonder where in this galaxy this qualifies for soon, in terms of software updates. Please enlighten me.

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