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What do you make of Google's modular phone project Ara?

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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What do you make of Google's modular phone project Ara?

Google's Project Ara might be inherited from Motorola, but the folks at Mountain View are noticing the huge potential in a modular phone concept, and are working hard to master the prototypes, wooing developers in the meantime. 

The premise is very simple, yet quite hard to execute right - you get a barebones chassis, and add components to your liking, until you get a customized handset, tailored to your specific needs. There will be screen sizes and resolutions to choose from, different processors, battery capacities, and even camera modules. That's one of the biggest ideas around Ara, too - Google plans to launch a hub where you can buy modules, much like the Play Store, but for hardware bits, and with an open model of enrolling. This should be a boon for manufacturers big and small, but also for developers who can squeeze innovative uses out of off-the-shelf Ara component combos. 

Who knows what the braniacs from Google might come up with until next year, when Project Ara is expected to land for retail presence. That's why we wanted to ask you if this modular phone concept is something you consider ready for take-off, or do you think it is too hard to master, and will remain one of Google's pet projects? Take your pick, and chime in the comments.

Phonearena polls
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What do you make of Google's modular phone project Ara?
51.55%
1047 votes
(1047 votes) It's the future, I can finally cook my own smartphone, and, coming from Google, I expect value for the money, too!
39.39%
800 votes
(800 votes) Sounds promising, so I'll wait and see what are the modules on offer, and then decide on Project Ara.
9.06%
184 votes
(184 votes) Modular electronics have been tried before with limited success, nothing beats a uniform handset, tested thoroughly by a major manufacturer.

2031 votes

57 Comments
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posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:31 15

1. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Myself, I'm all for it.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 10:51 3

18. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)


Diddy. Make your own phone without paying 600-700$ on a phone.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 11:22 10

20. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


It will save the trouble of buying a new phone every year. You can just buy the latest SoC every year. It also helps minimize waste. It makes repairing super easy. There are a lot of advantages and that's why I am excited.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 12:38 2

27. dbdrummer88 (Posts: 29; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)


Same here! I expect the initial investment of getting all the parts you want may be around $400-$500 depending on how many high end parts you get. Either way, this phone will allow you to have the best at any moment, and be cheaper than everything else. It's a win-win!

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:18 2

32. sgodsell (Posts: 3890; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


There is nothing stopping project Ara from making even larger endo-skeletons. Like a tablet size or two.

posted on 18 Apr 2014, 04:49 1

52. lallolu (Posts: 492; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)


And I am assuming it will be runnin stock android. Except if they make it possible to choose ROM to install.

This is going to be really interesting.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:21

33. ILikeBubbles (Posts: 525; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


although depending on module price i'll probably end up spending about that anyway :p

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 14:56

40. bbblader (Posts: 590; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)


Even if you buy it first by the price of a normal flagship,you'll need to buy it once no less than every 3 years,just with changing the parts you need once at a time.That is actually the same as buying a high end phone every 3 years,but doing that over time will be an advantage over anything else

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 23:37

47. Tommy1960i (Posts: 119; Member since: 11 Oct 2013)


This is good for customers but not for companies. I think in general this is not the best idea from an economic point.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 23:35

46. Tommy1960i (Posts: 119; Member since: 11 Oct 2013)


I am worried about sowftware integration and gaming performance for a smartphone like that. iOS apps are very nice and have a much bigger quality than Android ones because as we know at Apple software and hardware are very nice integrated.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 16:12 3

41. jroc74 (Posts: 6015; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Yup..

And I'm glad the last choice got the least votes. Just in the PC market....the last choice only applies to Apple. There are very, very few OEM's that build decent PC's.

PC's... its really good to go the custom route. Either you build it or have a company do it for you.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 17:46 2

44. vincelongman (Posts: 4575; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


Agreed,
There is TOTALLY NO OEM that makes good gaming PCs for good prices

posted on 18 Apr 2014, 15:46 1

53. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)


my fault i meant DIDDO stupid auto keyboard.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:32 1

2. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


The main disadvantage of this idea is that some components don't need as much space as one block and can waste space.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:50 2

8. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


The phone will be somewhat bulkier. However, this phone isn't going to be an popular phone like iPhone, S5, M8, or Z2. It'll be for selected group of people who loves the freedom of changing the spec to their needs. Look at some custom computer, the case is just huge!! Mine is 2.5 feet tall and that beast is just sexy sitting in my office :P

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 10:04 2

11. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


The idea is great. Everything depends on how they will do it. I just imagine getting good looking phone with onscreen buttons, amoled display and two front speakers :)

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:50 1

36. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


SEXY :D

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 23:56 1

48. azers07 (Posts: 27; Member since: 17 Aug 2013)


Blackbsung M8 =)

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 10:08 1

12. phljcnth (Posts: 485; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Of course blocks of the same use shall be created from a single mold regardless of its capacity or variant. The main issue must be about keeping the phone firmly together without having to put on a case or band and not compromising the ease of swapping. I am also interested about how the software is going to adjust to any abrupt user modification.

This is why I think Samsung is catering much more options than what a consumer can think of. Different sizes, specs, colors, you name it.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 10:16 1

15. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


Yes, but there is still no Samsung phone that I would really want :) And I think that many of people think that way. S5 is great phone, but I would change many things in it. I made my vision of how S5 should look like:https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1140x1075q90/836/903e.jpg
I don't need metal. I would prefer matte plastic finish on the back without this (in my opinion) ugly dots.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:17

30. sgodsell (Posts: 3890; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


The nice thing about Samsung phones is there are a ton of third party backs and cases for phones.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:56

37. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


Yes you can get even metal back cover :)

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 11:25 2

21. Stuntman (Posts: 836; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


I the disadvantage of phones available now is that they focus on slimness instead of the features that I really want.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 11:38

24. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


Agree. Also I would like to have bigger choice, not only 5+ inch screen flagships.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:22

34. Shatter (Posts: 2036; Member since: 29 May 2013)


What about multiple components in one block?

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 13:59 1

38. bodzio1809 (Posts: 356; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


I hope that it will be possible. I saw modules with only one block on front. So that probably mean that you can get block with screen, camera, speaker etc.

posted on 19 Apr 2014, 20:46

57. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


I'm guessing there will be group blocks.
A block for all your sensors for example.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:35 9

3. Anshulonweb (Posts: 430; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


it is the future of smartphones....

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:36

4. bigv6691 (Posts: 10; Member since: 08 Jan 2014)


I'm excited about this project, only thing I do hope happens is you can download any os available. Like Firefox, Ubuntu touch, and maybe even windows 8. That would be pretty awesome.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 09:48 7

5. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


With Google behind it, that'll never happen XD

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