Most modern smartphone makers release several new models every year. Dutch company Fairphone takes a slower, more deliberate approach, releasing one new phone every few years… but offering long-term support for hardware as it ages.

So a little over a month after introducing the Fairphone 5, the company has announced an official Android 13 update is now available for the previous-gen Fairphone 4.

That’s not particularly surprising. The Fairphone 4 is just two years old at this point, and when the company launched the phone it promised to offer software updates at least until the end of 2025, but possibly for another year or two after that.

But it’s still kind of noteworthy because the small company has generally managed to keep its promises to offer long-term software and hardware support when bigger companies have a habit of abandoning phones after a year or two.

But the company’s commitment to long-term (if somewhat slow) software updates is becoming a little less surprising. Other Android phone makers have begun expanding the update time frame for their flagship phones – rumor has it that Google could promise as many as 7 years of software updates for the Pixel 8 series phones it’s set to launch on October 4th.

Fairphone’s smartphone may still stand out due to a few other features though. The company uses ethically-sourced materials to make its hardware, wherever possible. Fairphone hardware also typically features an unlockable bootloader, making it easy to install custom ROMs or even non-Android operating systems like Ubuntu Touch.

And while a growing number of phone makers are selling spare parts and offering repair guides to help folks keep using their phones even after one part breaks, Fairphone also emphasizes a modular, repairable design that makes repairs relatively simple.

The FairPhone 4 features with a 6.3 inch, 2340 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor and 6GB or 8GB of memory and 128GB or 256GB of storage. The phone originally shipped with Android 11, but received an Android 12 update earlier this year.

It has a user-replaceable 3,905 mAh battery and a back cover that’s easy to remove to access the phone’s insides. Fairphone sells replacement parts for just about every major component of the phone, allowing users to replace a cracked screen, broken port, or faulty speaker without visiting a hardware repair shop.

As for the Android 13 update, it brings support for themed app icons, an updated media controls, per-app language preferences, bug fixes, and privacy enhancements.

If you’re experiencing a bit of déjà vu over the announcement that Android 13 is available for the phone though, that may be because an unofficial build of Android 13 for the Fairphone 4 was released by xda-developers member tfbb in late 2022. It took Fairphone about 10 months to catch up (although, to be fair, officially supported updates have to live up to a higher bar than an unofficial, unsupported ROM when it comes to stability, security, and performance).

While the Fairphone 4 is primarily sold in Europe, customers in the US (or other countries) can pick up a Murena Fairphone 4 that ships with a de-Googled version of Android called /e/OS. Just keep in mind that it has limited hardware support for US wireless networks, and works best with T-Mobile.

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  1. How stable are these updates? I’m interested in the Fairphone because I like what I’ve read about what they’ve been doing. However, it’s been a while I had an Android phone. At that time, sometimes updates broke things or decreased general stability which may not be fixed if support ended soon after. Or maybe this isn’t much of an issue with today’s Android phones in general?

    1. If it’s still a problem in general, I guess it would depend a lot on the manufacturer, to the point that you shouldn’t think of all Android phones, versions, and vendors as if they’re a single entity.
      I can tell you that my Teracube went from 11 to 12 without issue recently, but that’s just one data point.
      You should probably ask about update stability on a fairphone specific forum or something.

  2. Is this a zero-glue phone? Wish more USA network providers would support them.

    1. Yes, Fairphone is zero-glue. You won’t find a single glue on any of their phones.