Motorola Project Ara: A Modular Smartphone

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A short while back we posted an article on the Phonebloks concept phone, which presented an idea whereby customers are able to build their own smartphones from choosing a variety of swappable parts/modules. This means that if you’re more into gaming, you would then choose a more powerful GPU, and if you prefer photography on the go, a more adept camera lens would be fitted. When any of the said components become outdated, instead of having to replace the entire phone, simply switch one or more of the modules you wish to achieve improved performances.

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At the time, the idea seemed more of wishful thinking, and the people involved were looking for public backing. Thanks to the overwhelming support and success of the awareness campaign, Motorola has now stepped in on the project by releasing some resources for the venture. Codenamed Project Ara, the technology and products team will support Phonebloks creator, Dave Hakkens, on “endoskeleton and modules.” Motorola has in fact already spent some time on the venture before going official a few days ago, having already “done deep and technical work.”

The project will be open to the community and volunteers to assist the designing of the hardware modules. Motorola wishes to provide a similar ecosystem to that which Android has brought into the mobile OS space. Suggestions in timelines point to a release of the Module Developer Kits available by the end of the year. The good news for prospective contributors is that they will receive exclusive discounts upon release, while the top 100 contributors will each receive a free devices once the project launches in the market.

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The venture hopes to build “A phone worth keeping,” which will be of great significance to the general public, whereas major OEMs will have to rethink the way in which they conduct business in regards to smartphones. I can only assume that companies will start shipping their own, separate modules instead of entire phones, so they do not lose out in the long run.

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