The Fairphone 4 is an Android phone with mid-range specs that stands out for a few reasons. It comes from a company that attempts to source materials from ethically responsible sources, and which also focuses on longevity by offering spare parts, repair guides, and long-term software updates.

But if Android isn’t your thing, now there’s another option: you can install Ubuntu Touch on the Fairphone 4.

Ubuntu Touch is an open source operating maintained by the folks at UBPorts, who picked up the project after it was abandoned by Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu). The team’s UBPorts Installer is an open source utility for loading the operating system onto supported devices, and the latest version of the installer adds support for the Fairphone 4.

The Fairphone 4 first launched in September, 2021 and the phone features a 6.3 inch, 2340 x 1080 pixel LCD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor, up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, a microSD card reader, USB Type-C port, fingerprint reader, IP54 water resistance, dual 48MP rear cameras, and a 25MP front camera.

It also features a modular, repairable design. Fairphone sells spare parts including cameras, fingerprint sensors, displays, USB ports, speakers, and batteries. Unfortunately the phone was designed for the European market and has limited support for North American wireless networks, so it’s not sold in the US or Canada.

The Fairphone 4 ships with Android 11, making it the first phone with that operating system to be officially supported by Ubuntu Touch.

Unlike some other mobile Linux distributions (which use a mainline Linux kernel), Ubuntu Touch uses Halium software, which allows the Linux-based operating system to interact with a device’s hardware by using the vendor kernel and Android services that shipped with the phone. Now that the first Android 11 device has been added to the UBPorts Installer, it’s likely that we could see more in the future.

via @UBports and the UBPorts forum

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  1. Even if the Fairphone 4 supported US wireless networks and even with the euro at near parity with the dollar, it’s about $588. I shouldn’t have to pay a premium in order to be able to have control over my own phone at all and even if more RAM and a better camera somehow compensated for not being able to connect, the premium appears to be well over 100%

    1. Unfortunately, that loss of control and the datamining that comes with it is valuable to whoever made the phone, so it allows them to subsidize the price of a device.
      Also, there’s an element of economies of scale here, coming from how few people understand the importance of it, largely due to not understanding computers at all.
      Besides, the premium on the fairphone was always meant to be sourcing components, materials, and labour with as little guilt as possible, even though it’s arguably not enough to be a net positive on its own.

    2. “I shouldn’t have to pay a premium in order to be able to have control over my own phone”

      Morally, you shouldn’t, but this is the reality we live in.

      Fairfone are scarcely making a profit on the back of that premium – they are a social purpose company after all. That is just how much it costs to have well-sourced minerals and for you to not “be the product” for them.

      Alas, for me the phone hardware was just not good enough overall. I got a Pixel instead. Hopefully Fairfone will have more competitive hardware the next time I need to buy a phone (hopefully in 5+ years’ time).

    3. You shouldn’t, but the fault isn’t on the makers of the Fairphone – phone makers sell cheap phones nearly at a loss and make up for it with terrible support, little to no repairability (when possible, the repair cost is likely higher than buying a new cheap phone), not to mention data collected and sold without giving you a choice.

      Fairphone is handicaped by the appearance of a higher, unjustified price tag when the reality is that cheap phones are definitely not as cheap as they appear.