How many times have you wanted to add a feature to your phone or remove something you never use? Well, it might not be long before you are able to do just that. There are at least three different teams working on what could be called a build-your-own phone concept.
A BYO phone is essentially a modular device in which you can add and remove features or modules as you go. In an ideal scenario, when a great new processor comes along, you should be able to change just the chip and not the entire phone.
Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group has a simple mission: “Do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”
Project Ara is at least a couple of years old and consists of endoskeleton and modules. “The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter–or something not yet thought of,” says a Motorola blogpost.
If latest reports are right, Google wants a phone coming out of Project Ara to cost as low as $50. That will be a game changer for sure.
Led by Dave Hakkens, Phonebloks.com is a community that, like Motorola, believes in developing “a phone platform that is modular, open, customisable, and made for the entire world”. The community now has nearly a million supporters, all of whom plan to collaborate towards the common goal of creating a prototype for the modular phone. Obviously, one of their largest partners is Motorola.
At CES, ZTE showed off its modular phone and tablet concepts, stunning design to say the least. This concept phone will let users change everything from cameras to GPU, with the components snapped together inside a case. But the Eco-Mobius is nothing more than a prototype.
But all these are definite indicators that customisable phones are not all that far away. In fact, with the Moto X, Motorola is already giving users a bunch of customisations, at least with design. What it could do for the world of smartphones is bring prices down like never before. After all, you will pay only for the features you need in the phone.