We’ve seen concepts for modular smartphones come and go in the past few years, but a lot of information was left up in the air…such as why would you even need one and how much would it cost? Yesterday Google announced that they will be hosting the first Project Ara Developers’ Conference in April that aims to educate the first round of developers how to modify the modular phone system. The LEGO-like phone will ship with little more than an exoskeleton base featuring a screen and WiFi radio with the option of adding various add-ons per your desire…to some degree leaving the task of the industrial designer, mechanical engineer and software developer in the hands of the end user.

“Just Swap Out a Block”


“The question was basically, could we do for hardware what Android and other platforms have done for software?” says “Which means lower the barrier to entry to such a degree that you could have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of developers as opposed to just five or six big [manufacturers] that could participate in the hardware space.” -Paul Eremenko, Project ARA

If the Rasberry Pi and 3D Printing craze that is current in tomorrow’s crop of consumers is any indication, then the next generation of smartphone users won’t have any problem–and might even prefer–smartphones that they can customize. While it’s still unclear how far Google intends to push the project and if it will even be profitable, one thing is for certain: modular smartphones are on the horizon.


“Want to slide in a faster processor? Just swap out a block. Cracked screen? Off with the old, on with the new. Don’t need the camera? Or maybe you do everything online and don’t need local storage? The freed up space might let you drop in a bigger battery or detach non-essential components you don’t want leeching electricity.” -Matt Peckham, TIME Magazine

In this video released last year, we get a breakdown of how the system is intended to work from a similar company called Phonebloks that has teamed up on the project:

YouTube video

…and an update on the project released earlier this week:

YouTube video

Source: Time Techland


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.