Fairphone's ethical smartphone gets Android 7

It's a bigger deal than you might think.

Nearly three years after ethical smartphone company Fairphone launched its Fairphone 2 handset, the Dutch social enterprise has announced it's now compatible with Android 7.1.2, aka Nougat. This might seem like old news, given that most smartphones are now munching on Android Pie, but the time and money spent upgrading the phone to even this level is indicative of the sustainability challenges still prevalent in the smartphone market.

According to Fairphone, this software upgrade has cost the company around €500,000 to implement. Considering Fairphone is a relatively small operation and around 100,000 phones have been sold to date, this is a significant investment. But, it puts the company on track to deliver updates faster in the future, as the time and cost involved comes from Fairphone's own development work -- its chipset is no longer being supported by the official chipset vendor.

The update brings a variety of new functions to Fairphone 2 users, including split screen mode, data transfer capabilities, simplified notifications and energy-saving features. But the company's main motivation for the development was that it'll result in longer-lasting phones. The new software will ensure the handsets can keep receiving security updates, so devices will keep going for longer – a major part of Fairphone's sustainability ethos. No, the Fairphone 2 doesn't have the bells and whistles of every other phone on the market, but it's a unique product that attempts to steer our voracious appetites for the latest technology in the right direction -- and this investment will help make that more appealing in the long run.