A Modular smartphone is a concept in which devices are made up o a different component which combined together to form a single entity, these components can be independently upgraded or replaced by the users.
Such a concept was introduced by a company called “Phoneblok” which came up with the idea of different blocks combined together to form as a single device, it got a widespread attention. Later Google along with Motorola announced a modular phone concept.
Google named its modular smartphones concept as “Project Ara”. The developer kit for this project is expected to launch in fall of 2016, however the consumer version kit will be available by 2017.
As the Google is working on this project so there is no doubt that these devices will be working on Android OS. Out of this every other coponents could be a customized by the users accroding to their needs.
Features of Project Ara:
• In these “Ara Smartphones” frame will be the only component provided by the deveoper(Google).
• Now in the front, frame will have component for the screen and few other modules like speakers, front camera etc.
• On the back there will be slots for additional modules.
• Similar to that of the Play Store there will the be marketplace for modules with an open APIs so that any developer can create a new one to be sold in the marketplace, after approval by Google.
• Google is developing kits which will contain the modules.
• Three different frame size are going to be available; hence modules will be developed according to that.
• Each module will have the swappable components each of different size for different frames.
• Each of those swappable component must remain different from the other parts.
• Integrating different components together is tested and a costly method with size reduction. That’s why it’s always been more expensive to manufacture.
• Every swappable component must be tested with all the possible combinations for ensuring that they’ll work together perfectly. Hence, making that testing and certification much more onerous meaningfully increasing development costs.
• Also there are issues that blocks that will be inserted into those modules will make tradeoff with the volumetric efficiency.
• Weight and size will be an issue in these modular phones also users might have to compensate with the looks and style of their device.
• Also if different modules are used, then performance issue may occur due to the difference in the developer.
• This concept by Google has got mixed reviews from the experts.
• Some experts believe that this project promotes customizable devices which is something most demanded by the users.
• Experts believe that issues of functionality due to the different modules that will be available in the market will result in lack an of a working prototype.
In short, Project ARA by Google simply provides a skeleton equipped with basic components like CPU, antennas etc. with blocky modules in which user can just do the add-ons like better camera’s, speakers, scanners etc. hence customizing, phone according to the requirements.
So now all we can do is wait until the fall for the Barcelona Mobile convention where it’s expected that Google will drop the first developer kit for this modular smartphone.