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Fairphone 1 upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 coming soon

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

  1. Kerstin says:

    I find the fairphone support super bad. I send an email with questions 1 month ago and never got an answer. I think that the most important tool you could have when your phone does not work properly is a good and direct support. Unfortunatly there is zero support here.

    • Es Paulele says:

      Strange – my experiences were to the contrary (about a year ago, though). Did you just sent an E-mail? Then try to use the official helpdesk (https://fairphone.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new). If you already did: never mind. By the way: In the support section you can find many answers right away. Just search by keyword.
      I wish you good luck in order to solve your questions as fast as possible.

    • Dear Kerstin, our support team is working very hard to answer all emails and I’m sure you’ll get yours. Currently we’re getting more emails every day then we can answer and this causes big delays. For this we offer our apologies.

      Best, Douwe

      • Kerstin says:

        Hi Douwe, thanks for your apologies. Unfortunatly they do not help me with my phone’s problems. You need more staff to answer your emails!

  2. Mitar says:

    This is really amazing news! Fairphone is the best!

  3. Mitar says:

    One question. I have the first batch Fairphone. I have been using automatic updates only to update it. Do I have to do anything with storage layout or will this be handled automatically? I have not seen any information about that until now.

  4. erlend_sh says:

    HUGE kudos to the Fairphone team for making this happen. No doubt it required an unprecedented amount of tenacity and patience on your part to make this a reality. I’ll be assisting two family members with the unified storage partition so that they’re all set for the update.

    • Thank you for helping the people around you with updating! That’s the spirit! 😀

      • Silke says:

        I did the storage update today and almost had a heart attack because for quite a while the screen was only blue. I was already convinced that I had killed my Fairphone but then – when I had already given up hope – my Fairphone came back to life and now it’s working :-). Maybe you have to put a remark in your tutorials – for users with bad nerves like me: Don’t panic, the update takes some time, sit back, get yourself some tea and relax, all will be fine in the end ;-).

      • Charlotte Mack says:

        Hey:)
        How can I make the unified storage partition? Is this the reason why I could’t update the last time?
        Looking forward to an updated phone. Thank you

  5. Bernard says:

    Nice te hear. Android 7 (nougat) will be available in 3/2016. At that time, we will have Android 4.4.

    • Hey Bernard, If you are able to point out another Android phone that is just as old as the Fairphone 1 and will be able to run Android N, we’d be happy to hear and learn how they did it. Best, Douwe

      • Jerry says:

        My friend’s Samsung Galaxy S3 is running a Marshmallow build of cyanogenmod, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’ll run Android N as well in due time.

        However, having said that, I don’t believe that this should be an argument to saying FairPhone should be able to do the same for FP1. There’s so many factors involved that it’s hard to compare the two phones.

        Anyways, I’m super excited to see FP still being this dedicated to FP1 more than 2 years after the release of the phone. It’s one of the things that sets FairPhone apart from other manufacturers and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside 🙂

        • Stefan says:

          What are the chances of porting Lollipop?

          • Fons says:

            Pretty slim: “In the long term, is unlikely that we will be able to offer a full update beyond Android 4.4 for the Fairphone 1.”

          • Xyguma says:

            I own a FP1U and I’m really happy with it.
            “In the long term, is unlikely that we will be able to offer a full update beyond Android 4.4 for the Fairphone 1.” Does it means that FP1 would be no obsolete in the long term and I will have to change or would I be able to use it even if it’s an old android version ?

          • Joe says:

            I’m still using android 4.1. on my phone and I have been fine. The phone is getting slow, but that’s not the software’s fault. The main problem in the future might be that newer apps won’t support this version anymore. The only one I’ve noticed not supporting 4.1 has so far been Pokemon GO. Android 4.4 is about a year younger version, so it should have decent support for quite a while still.

          • Franz says:

            Unfortunately the chances are virtually non-existent due to lack of support by the chipset manufacturer.

          • Tanisha Angelia Strømsvik says:

            So I take it the Fairphone isn’t modular enough to allow for a chipset upgrade down the line for those who want to update their phone further? Would be nice if the camera and similar parts from older versions could be designed to be reusable in future Fairphone modules at least.

        • worldview says:

          Important to remember that cyanogenmod is not an “official” release. Fairphone cannot, and probably should not, do that.

          • Jerry says:

            Was just pointing out the “dangers” of challenging someone to come up with a 2 yo phone running recent Android versions without giving context. The danger is that someone *will* come with a valid answer (no scope was given, so unofficial cyanogenmod releases fit the bill) and in turn create the impression that FairPhone is seeking excuses.
            I know this is not the case because I know the issue is much more complex than this, but others may not.

  6. Pete Fotheringham says:

    Great that this update is happening – thanks to all involved.
    I am currently running chrmhoffmann’s latest unofficial.4.4.4 ROM. Will I need to switch back to the FP OS ROM before I can upgrade to this version? Will doing so wipe the installed apps and data?
    Thanks
    Pete

  7. Joe says:

    Great job! I can imagine this took a lot of work. It was pretty embarassing for a company focused on longevity not to provide a single software update (besides small fixes) for their product. At least in my opinion. Now your first product is much better.

  8. cg78 says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question but does this mean it will also be available for FP1U?

  9. worldview says:

    Fantastic news. Great work! So thrilled about this, and looking forward to continuing to use my Fairphone until the day it would not turn on due to age 🙂

    • Franz says:

      Hopefully that day is still a long way ahead. From the software side this update should push the date quite a bit further.

  10. Jan says:

    Will this update still be Google-free or do I end up with the Google apps like in Fairphone 2?

    • Franz says:

      The modus will be the same as with previous versions of Android for Fairphone 1: We ship the operating system without Google Apps and users have to install them themselves.

  11. Roman Spirgi says:

    Awesome commitment, thank you.

  12. Stefan says:

    Great Job! I didn’t miss it yet but this is good news.
    A word to you and the critics above: It was clear to me that purchasing a first batch production of a startup company focusing on sustainability, transparency and fairness is done for a good cause but also doesn’t mean my phone is best of breed and is a real competition to the big players on the market when it comes to power or support. The phone is a statement.
    That said I am still very excited with the phone and your support. It is definitely a great phone. Keep on with the great effort and quality. You made up for your bold approach of building a lasting phone over the (normal?) case of getting a new phone each two years. IMHO it should be the goal to improve the social and environmental values. Especially in the First World.
    best regards,
    Stefan

    • Franz says:

      Thank you for your kind words. We’re glad to hear that you are still happy with your Fairphone 1. With this update we hope to prolong this happiness for even longer.

  13. Roman Spirgi says:

    BTW, I do hope that full root access will not be restricted with this update …

  14. Michael says:

    Hi ver good opinion about Android 4.4

  15. milkman says:

    Those are great news! That’s why I bought it, that’s why I like you 😉

  16. Pelle says:

    = Pokémon GO compatibility!<3

  17. Hans says:

    Absolutely GREAT! Big compliments and thanx!
    The upgrade seems to be free, but I’d like to show that it actually pays (somewhat:-) to make this kind of updates. Can’t you make it ‘donationware’?

  18. Anil says:

    Great news! I see one of the changes will be the addition of Bluetooth LE. What version of Bluetooth will it be after the update? Will it be compatible with devices requiring Bluetooth V 4.0 ?

  19. Alex White says:

    Hey Douwe, I am a FP1 owner. Will I be able to get the source code and any binary modules for my device with this new update?

  20. MW says:

    Cool, sounds like my recently purchased Garmin watch will be compatible with my Fairphone1 after this update (http://www.garmin.com/nl-NL/ble)! Thanks guys!

    • MW says:

      As mentioned multiple times here, it is very unfortunate that you guys (i.e. Fairphone) have not communicated what’s up with the delay. I understand this is a hard process, but I was eagerly waiting for the update, and now there is nothing, not even news. Why not post a small update to this message saying “Unfortunately, due to unexpected setbacks, the deadline has shifted to YYYY.”

  21. Marty Glaubitz says:

    Nice to hear. My FP1 seems to be indestructable – but beeing stuck on Jelly Bean made me a fool in my office 😀 Looking forward to turn on ART on my device

  22. Benoit Devos says:

    Do we have a scheduled date already ? I am waiting KitKat for the smartwatch connectivity. Thanks.

  23. Louise Allen says:

    Any news on 4.4?

  24. KiLLy says:

    Really awesome 🙂 Love Fairphone Team for this way of thinking!

    Lets start the movement, and spread it 🙂

  25. Louise Allen says:

    Any news?

    • Lenni Dummbatz says:

      yeah right? I understand beginning of September is a very broad term and their only late by a few days at most by that measure, but boy am I waiting on that update!

  26. Harm-Jan ter Harmsel says:

    “Launch currently set for beginning of September” so, do you guys have any news yet? 🙂

  27. clocks2003 says:

    Any idea yet of the date? Not heard anything for a couple of months, at which time it was scheduled for “early” Sept.

  28. smartn says:

    I’m sorry to say that I’m very disappointed about Fairphone’s communication habits.
    As a crowd funder of the FP 1 I am already used to delays and the fact that they hardly meet any deadline which they announce.
    I understand that it’s hard to predict the effort they have to put on technical developments like the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 for FP1-users. This was announced for “beginning of September”.
    What I don’t understand though is the fact that they don’t seem to find any 3 minutes it would take to update their timeline when they recognize that they can’t keep their promise. This is just unprofessional.

    • smartn says:

      update:

      on Oct 10th I’d sent them my post, followed by my comment that I’m totally disenchanted.

      Here’s FP’s reply:

      “Dear …,
      unfortunately we have no detailed information when
      the update is coming. It is however not our intention to ignore our
      customers.
      The latest news are in this article
      (https://www.fairphone.com/en/2016/06/30/fairphone-1-upgrade-to-android-kitkat-4-4-coming-soon/)
      On the 13th october there is a live AMA with the responsible Engineer.
      See: https://forum.fairphone.com/t/live-ama-with-franz-xaver-geiger-13th-oct-17-00-to-19-00-cest-utc-02-00/22409
      With kind regards, …”

      What
      they did was basically that: I complained about their unprofessional PR
      right here on this website – and they answered that I should have a
      look right here at this website about latest information.

      Catch 22 satire.

      So here is my reply from Oct 13:

      “Hi …,
      thanks for your reply.
      But you didn’t get the point: The “latest news” which you refer to are
      absolutely outdated – last update from June 30 2016, announcing the 4.4
      update for “beginning of september”.
      I’m
      not the only one to expect an update – not on any hard to find forum
      discussion, but exactly there, on YOUR OWN CENTRAL WEBSITE. It would
      have cost you 3 minutes.You don’t want to ignore your customers? Well,
      but you do so by not performing, not communicating, intransparency.
      Regards, …”

      Didn’t hear from them since.My ass.

  29. Todd says:

    “Launch currently set for beginning of September”
    Which September? Sorry for this bad joke, but:

    Fairphone is never on their own timeline.
    With the experience from old announced updates we will get this if the 1st fairphone goes to school. And this is really old for a mobile phone. But the real problem: A very long time with out of date software.
    We get the last update one year ago I think.

    Every three months should be update-time !!!

  30. smartn says:

    I’m sorry to say that I’m very disappointed about Fairphone’s communication habits.
    As a crowd funder of the FP 1 I am already used to delays and the fact that they hardly meet any deadline which they announce.
    I understand that it’s hard to predict the effort they have to put on technical developments like the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 for FP1-users. This was announced for “beginning of September”.
    What I don’t understand though is the fact that they don’t seem to find any 3 minutes it would take to update their timeline when they recognize that they can’t keep their promise. This is just unprofessional.
    Furthermore, to me it slowly destroys the feeling of being an equal part of a community which is getting replaced by the feel that “they” can treat “us” in any way they like.

    • milkman says:

      Couldn’t have said it better… I am also one of the first five thousand – and the communication habits are far away from optimal. Nevertheless, I am looking forward for my kitkat.

    • freeman says:

      come on guys, our phones aren’t exactly top notch, anyway. It’s a small company. Someone underestimated the effort, then someone caught the flu and the prealpha testers come back with loads of problems. I had a flight that was scheduled to arrive on the “new” Berlin Airport in 2012, that’s all I’m saying

      • Lenni Dummbatz says:

        Its ok to not meet the deadline, all we’re asking for is more transparenty, maybe a new estimate.

      • prefec2 says:

        The point is to communicate that you will not make the deadline and that you will need more time to complete the task. Then you communicate why this is (e.g., too many bugs). And you conclude with a potential new deadline.

        • Mitar says:

          Why you people cannot accept the answer “we do not have an estimate or a deadline”? I think this is a pretty straightforward answer and a frank one as well. They made an estimate, the missed it, they learned that they are bad at estimating, so they decided not to repeat that. This shows that they are learning and I like that. Once they will be able to realize more of such projects, they will also learn how to estimate better.

          Give them some slack. They are answering well, they are just not answering what you want to hear, so you do not hear it. It is not that they are not communicating, it is that they are not communicating in the way you would want them to communicate.

          • prefec2 says:

            What they do is announce sonething and then not deliver in it. They also do not communicate in advance that They will not keep their own deadline. When they say something then deep down in the forum. From a communication point of view it would be more helpful to announce everything in their blog.

            BTW I am not such people. Whatever people you might mean. What I do is criticizing what they do. This way they can learn that their communication does not work good enough. I found somewhere else in the forum some info on the issue. But it took me a day googleing.

            The best thing they should do beside posting more often about the progress and issues, it would be a public readable bug tracker and access to other development resources.

    • smartn says:

      on Oct 10th I’d sent them my post, followed by my comment that I’m totally disenchanted.

      Here’s FP’s reply:

      “Dear …,
      unfortunately we have no detailed information when
      the update is coming. It is however not our intention to ignore our
      customers. The latest news are in this article (https://www.fairphone.com/en/2016/06/30/fairphone-1-upgrade-to-android-kitkat-4-4-coming-soon/)
      On the 13th october there is a live AMA with the responsible Engineer.
      See: https://forum.fairphone.com/t/live-ama-with-franz-xaver-geiger-13th-oct-17-00-to-19-00-cest-utc-02-00/22409
      With kind regards, …”

      What they did was basically that: I complained about their unprofessional PR right here on this website – and they answered that I should have a look right here at this website about latest information.

      Catch 22 satire.

      So here is my reply from Oct 13:

      “Hi …,
      thanks for your reply.
      But you didn’t get the point: The “latest news” which you refer to are
      absolutely outdated – last update from June 30 2016, announcing the 4.4
      update for “beginning of september”.
      I’m not the only one to expect an update – not on any hard to find forum discussion, but exactly there, on YOUR OWN CENTRAL WEBSITE. It would have cost you 3 minutes.You don’t want to ignore your customers? Well, but you do so by not performing, not communicating, intransparency.
      Regards, …”
      Didn’t hear from them since.
      My ass.

      • freeman says:

        Thanks for the link to the forum post. But to be honest I hadn’t replied to your second mail either. What did you expect in addition to the reply they sent?

        • smartn says:

          What did I expect? Well, exactly what I had written. To make it easier for you to find I will quote myself: “I’m not the only one to expect an update – not on any hard to find forum
          discussion, but exactly there, on YOUR OWN CENTRAL WEBSITE.”

          They published information here which turn out not to be the truth. That’s why I think they owe everybody here an update. Not necessarily a new promised deadline, but at least something like “sorry, we’re having unexpected troubles.”
          Anything but silence.
          And: no, this is not too much to expect.

  31. Rob Jones says:

    Any news Guys? Been waiting for this update for ages and even just a little note to say roughly when you expect to release would be really nice!

  32. Kai says:

    Great news. But… its the 23 september and we are still waiting… What’s up?

  33. JD says:

    In a week September is over… Are there any news? A short message about the update would be much appreciated!

  34. Livio says:

    please give us some news..

  35. Barth says:

    I was waiting eagerly for this update. There are already apps that do not work on my FP1 because of the OS being too old. Next week I go to the US and I will buy a new phone if there are no news. I can’t postpone any more because this is my professional phone and I have seen in the past how FairPhone can postpone for months and months. It is such a shame.

  36. JD says:

    On Facebook I found this snippet of an information in one of comment sections:
    “What’s about the OS-Update for FP1/FP1U?” Fairphone: “we’re working on it. Takes a little longer then expected. Sorry about that. Best, Douwe”
    (28.9.2016: https://www.facebook.com/Fairphone/photos/a.135396719848570.38710.106482829406626/1090772187644347/?type=3)
    I would really appreciate an official statement from Fairphone about the update delay. Why do I have to find this information by chance? I’m disappointment by Fairphones poor communication skills.

  37. Frederik says:

    The communication habits are really a shame.
    I guess I’ll be moving over to http://shiftphones.com

    • SHIFT … interesting products! I guess that’s what FP also was aiming for – “copycats” (meant in a good way). Not sure if the communication will be that much easier for them, though 😉

  38. Benoit Devos says:

    Hi Fairphone makers ! We are now in October. Don’t you think we (Fairphone owners) deserve some status update ? Even a “Sorry we are absolutely unable to set a date for this upgrade” would be better that the current loud silent.

  39. molemi says:

    Any news when the FP1U Update will be available? Eagerly waiting…

  40. JB says:

    Dear FairphoneTeam,
    do you know that at least most of us bought this phone because we took it serious what you said?

  41. worldview says:

    Hello Fairphone Team. Its been a long while since informing us of the upgrade to KitKat. I don’t mind the delay. But, providing an update on the status would be the most decent thing to do. Unless, some of the proclaimed values are slowly shedding off as more Fairphone 2 phones are being sold.

  42. JD says:

    Dear fellow FP1/FP1U owners who wait (im)patiently for the 4.4. update,
    FYI I found a new snippet of information on Facebook:
    “I am Franz-Xaver Geiger and I’m a developer at Fairphone. My main project is getting Android 4.4 to the Fairphone 1.
    Thursday 13 october you can Ask Me Anything
    Join us on the Fairphone Forum to ask your questions:
    https://forum.fairphone.com/t/live-ama-with-franz-xaver-geiger-13th-oct-17-00-to-19-00-cest-utc-02-00/22409
    (Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1674849332831913/ )

  43. Harald says:

    What does it mean, comming soon. September was gone and nothing happend! No informations. No updates.

  44. Harald says:

    I bought now the New fairphone for my wive, but I’m not shure that it was the right decision, because I habe the feeling that everything what they said about to habe a mobilephone for a long time is a lie.

  45. EliseV says:

    Any news? It is so sad to see how FP1 owners are put aside now that all your focus is on FP2. It is sad that we paid to support an idea and the first long-lasting phone, and that a lot of components are not and will never be available again for replacing damaged stuff, and that our phone is obsolete, because the software is not updated. When my phone will stop working, I will just buy second-hand ones, but never again invest in Fairphone.

  46. Martin says:

    A month has passed since the deadline and we are in October now. Please, dear Fairphone team, PLEASE give us an update on Android 4.4 for our FP1(U)…

  47. Schumacb says:

    I am eagerly awayting the update. Any news on the new release date would be superb.

  48. JD says:

    Yesterday there was “Ask my anything” with the developer of the 4.4. Update. You can find the Q&A here: https://forum.fairphone.com/t/live-ama-with-franz-xaver-geiger-13th-oct-17-00-to-19-00-cest-utc-02-00/22409

    The most anticipate Q&A is properly this:
    “I’m wondering whether there is yet a predicted date for the launch of a 4.4 update.”
    “the short answer is no. Last time we announced September. Obviously we
    failed to deliver on that and are very sorry about it. This time we do
    not want to give promises we might not be able to fulfill.”
    ( https://forum.fairphone.com/t/live-ama-with-franz-xaver-geiger-13th-oct-17-00-to-19-00-cest-utc-02-00/22409/10 )

    • Marty Glaubitz says:

      so that means essentially they’re not sure if they can deliver at all?

      • El Nico says:

        No, they just don’t want to state any kind of release date which they probably can’t comply with.
        Would be great, though, if this blog article could be updated with this information as well.

  49. nubera says:

    We are waiting!

  50. RafDC says:

    sorry fairphone but i gave up waiting. just ordered the oneplus 3T.
    In september i bought linka bike lock, http://linkalock.com, which needs at least kitkat for the app to work. In a few days I’ll finally be able to use it.
    Hope you learn from this poor communication about the kitkat upgrade. The not knowning when is what made me switch to another brand. FP2 was not an option because of the poor specs compared to the price…

    Cheers,
    Raf

  51. Jochen says:

    It’s almost a year since the update was announced and nothing has come of it for quite a while now. Could we please receive an update on where this is going, if this is indeed going anywhere at all? Or has Fairphone abandoned the users of FP1? Or did I miss something?

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