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Modular Smartphones To Be Available By 2017

After the launch of LG G5 handset this spring and Google’s launch of final version of Project Ara , there has been much talk of modular smartphones. Modular smartphones differ from regular mobiles in many aspects, as they are made up of "building block" design i.e., made up of various interchangeable modules containing different hardware components. These can be switched quickly and easily to boost performance or replace faulty parts.

Concept of modular smartphones was given by a Dutch designer, Dave Hakkens, whose Phonebloks mobile is based on a set of small modules (processor, hard disk, camera, etc.) that can be easily changed and updated. Once assembled, they form a smartphone with varying levels of performance and functionality, a bit like a desktop PC. As well as making savings for users, a modular design can also help counter planned obsolescence in smartphones.

Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) get inspired from the idea and developed Project Ara. Initially presented as a similar project to Phonebloks, comprising almost as many modules as a smartphone has components, the handset evolved, little by little, into a slightly less ambitious prototype presented at the last Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

It now takes the form of a smartphone with just six interchangeable modules, including a second display, a camera, memory, a speaker, etc. The screen, processor and RAM are all grouped together in one core block that cannot be modified. A developers' kit is due to be released later this year, ahead of a planned consumer launch in 2017.
The only modular smartphone currently available in market is LG G5. It was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, back in February,2016. This handset has a slide-out bottom for changing the battery in just a few seconds. As well as its removable battery, additional interchangeable elements can be added to the phone, such as camera and audio modules. The LG G5 is out now priced at around US $650.

Bhakti Dua covers Technology and Automotive industry.

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