Google's Project Ara devices reportedly will start at $50 and have a surprise processor maker

Google's Project Ara devices reportedly will start at $50 and have a surprise processor maker
Project Ara has been one of the more interesting ideas to come across the wire in a while. The plan began at Motorola's Advanced Technology Group, but has since shifted to Google because that team was not a part of the pending sale of Motorola to Lenovo. The idea is to create modular smartphones that can be easily upgraded and customized, and a new report has a surprising announcement about what manufacturer will be building processors for Ara devices.

According to Nikkei, it won't be any of the big names in processors like Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Samsung, Intel, or even MediaTek producing the processors for Project Ara devices. Instead, it will be Toshiba manufacturing semiconductors for the modular smartphones, and the company has been working with Google on the project since October. Toshiba will reportedly make "three types of processors for the phone, to be used both in modules and the phone itself". This seems to imply that not all Ara devices will have swappable processing modules, but that is unclear. 

Toshiba will have samples ready by this fall, and will begin mass production in early 2015. The odd part of the report is that it says Toshiba will be a "preferred" supplier at first, but will become "the sole chipmaker for the phone about a year after its rollout". Again, it is unclear exactly what this means. It seems to say that Toshiba will have competition at first, but will ultimately become the only processor manufacturer for Ara, but that doesn't make sense, because it would leave other manufacturers with no reason to compete in the first place. It could be that Toshiba will be the only manufacturer that works with an official Google Ara device, but other devices in the Ara line from other manufacturers could be open to a range of modules from various suppliers. 

However all of that shakes out, the report also gives a bit of information on the devices themselves. The report reiterates the news that Project Ara devices may sell for as little as $50 unlocked at first. Devices will range in size, and because of that size difference, they will be able to handle anywhere from five to ten separate modules. It sounds as though each will have the same basic functionality that you would expect, but the space for more modules would be used to swap in and out things like exercise trackers or extra batteries. 

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34 Comments

1. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

hmm, i wonder what toshiba can bring to the table

24. vincelongman

Posts: 5645; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I don't think Toshiba will be the only CPU maker for Ara The whole point of a modular phone is to give the consumer more choice and freedom, and allow him/her to get the phone they want without compromises I'm sure Intel & Nvidia will make CPUs for Ara, since they don't really have any OEMs using their CPUs for phones

2. wilsong17 unregistered

my ideal phone 5000mah battery dual speakers 4.4 kikat latest 32gb lte and at least 8mp camera and at least snapdragon 800

4. Mxyzptlk unregistered

There's a difference between idealistic and realistic.

5. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

If these phones are gonna be custom....I dont see the problem. Maybe dual speakers...but thats it.

8. wilsong17 unregistered

i be happy with dual speakers and at least a 3500mah battery i could care less about the rest

11. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

I believe your really so jealous that iFruit only gives BS 1Gb Ram and useless 1500mah battery

13. wilsong17 unregistered

hmm if you are talking to me i own the note 3 with a zero lemon 10000mah battery and 128gb memory card so yea

15. marbovo

Posts: 658; Member since: May 16, 2013

I think he was replying to mxy

17. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

I was talking to Mxzy

16. dontneedtoknow

Posts: 158; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

Yet it runs as smooth as any android device. It's funny how you start dissing even when he isn't dissing andorid; however, I do plan on owning android device unless apple includes sapphire on its display and bigger screen.

20. Mxyzptlk unregistered

+1 for the truth. +1 for putting ignorance in its place.

21. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

True Mxzy wasnt trolling just being neutral unbiased

19. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Why would I be jealous? The optimization is better so that 1GB ram is all that's needed.

22. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Come on the ip5s force closes sometime when you browse some apps sometimes lags I would love if it had 2Gb Ram 2000mah 720p 400ppi iP5s

6. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

So the Xperia Z2 with a larger battery.

9. wilsong17 unregistered

hmm no this isnt a brand phone

10. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Loading...

12. belovedson

Posts: 1060; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

and what would be the price

3. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Very cool idea...

7. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Still like to see a working prototype and how the phone will be build and shipped to the consumer.

14. wilsong17 unregistered

customer can pick and pay i guess

18. BattleBrat

Posts: 1476; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

I'd give my right arm for some Tegra Silicon and 5000mah battery

23. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

So without any Qualcomm chips, I'm guessing it won't be available on Verizon. I knew something was gonna screw this up. And I thought the whole point was to choose the components you want, and upgrade when you need to. So are there gonna be other "exclusive" component manufacturers? They should've left this with Motorola, maybe they wouldn't have screwed it up.

25. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I am worried about this too. When I saw the title before reading the article...I just knew it was going to be Texas Instruments...boy was I wrong...lol.

26. Scott93274

Posts: 6030; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

After my Galaxy Nexus, I understand your fear.

28. Suo.Eno

Posts: 556; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

Or maybe one of the primary objective is to negate carriers after all no? My ongoing suspicion with the whole Moto to Lenovo debacle centers around the probability that El Goog had either tried to make Moto go full Ara and leave only X, G and E as the only non-modulars OR figured out that they can't juggle Ara while running Moto as it is (the latter seems likely). So they flipped the coin and posited that since there's this driverless car and other futuristic projects "chic" going on, Ara should get the "Google commitment" tag and Moto became the worthy multi billion dollars sacrifice. From the get go, ALL of the SoC major stakeholders (including minnows MediaTek, Rockchip, Allwinner etc) are the biggest calculated risk for Ara...

29. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

So if they negate carriers, how will you use it? At this point, Verizon & Sprint require the phone to be approved for ANY kind of use. I believe with AT&T and T-Mobile you can just put one of their Sim cards in to get it to work. Either way, looks like no Ara in my future.

27. roozbeh101

Posts: 99; Member since: Mar 31, 2012

they made open source software! now they are trying to do the same with hardware!soon we can purchase AMOLED and DDR 4 rams from samsung and SD 805 from qualcomm and have a moded KERNEL from CM !!! everything open and easy to mod and customize!

30. tokuzumi

Posts: 1843; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I hope this project does well. I'd like to see a fair amount of dev support for this, too. If the phone is affordable, I could easily see this getting into a lot of hands. I wonder if only Toshiba is really interested in making chips for this project? Qualcomm puts their chips in practically everything else, so maybe they are just waiting on the sidelines, to see how this project does, before it decides to put any real effort into making components for this project?

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