Motorola and Phoneblocks Kick Off Modular Phone Movement with Project Ara

Paul Lilly

Upgradeable smartphones might become a reality

Today's smartphones are essentially mini PCs that fit in the palm of your hand. The processing power and GPU capabilities of these devices, combined with the internal storage (and cloud storage) are nothing short of impressive when you stop and think about how compact these devices are. What really separates a smartphone from a PC, however, is that they're not upgradeable. Not yet, anyway. Motorola has plans to change that.

Motorola this week unveiled Project Ara , a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. The Google-owned company says it wants to do for hardware what Android has done for software -- create a third-party developer ecosystem and lower the barriers to entry.

A device inspired by Project Era would consist of an endoskeleton (the frame, if you will) and several modules. A module could be a processor, display, keyboard, extra battery, camera, or anything else. The idea is that you'd be able to swap out these modules for newer, faster ones as they come out, similar to popping in a new CPU in your desktop system.

Motorola's already been hard at work on Project Ara for over a year. More recently, the company was introduced to Dave Hakkens, creator of Phonebloks, and going forward they'll collaborate on a phone platform that is modular, open, and customizable.

We can't wait. In the meantime, check out the concept in more detail in this Phonebloks video:

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