Oct 29 AT 12:26 AM Dustin Earley 32 Comments

Motorola’s Project Ara is the modular phone of the future

Motorola Project Ara parts

Motorola has just announced what looks to be quite possibly their most ambitious undertaking since designing the first cellular phone. Project Ara will bring the concept of the modular phone to real life.

Some time ago now, a concept project called Phonebloks was making the rounds getting everyone all excited at what looked to be the best thing that would never happen to smartphones. Based on the idea that if you can customize the software on your phone, why not the hardware, Phonebloks’ wanted to put the power of building your own device in the palm of your hand. Phonebloks wanted to make modular smartphones, where every component of the phone was user changeable.

Everyone highly doubted Phonebloks would ever be able to put the idea into action, and now, they don’t need to. Motorola has just announced Project Ara, where they will be working with Phonebloks, to make the first completely customizable modular phone.

If it wasn’t published on Motorola’s official blog, we don’t know if we’d believe it. Motorola describes the project as, a “free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.”

We want to 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.MotorolaProject Ara announcement post

Project Ara will work like this: there will be a base endoskeleton that will function as a blank slate for connecting modules. Modules are essentially all the components of the phone, from the display, to the camera, and everything in between. It’s hard to imagine, but you would be able to easily remove the camera module from your phone, buy a new one, and presto – you just upgraded your phone for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

Want a keyboard? Buy a keyboard module. Want an extended battery? Buy an extended battery module. The possibilities are endless, because Motorola isn’t going to hog all the fun for themselves. Motorola plans to release a development kit to allow third-party manufacturers and developers to build their own modules. They plan on sending out alpha dev kits as soon as this winter. Yes, seriously.

For lots of us, Project Ara sounds like a dream come true. Only Motorola, backed by Google, would have not only the financial and mental resources to try something like this, but the gumption to make it work. We will definitely be following Project Ara very closely. For now, we want to know what you think. Pretty awesome, right?

Motorola Project Ara parts project ara complete

Source: Motorola

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Neeraj Sharma

    This Look pretty Nice to Work on this Project.
    Motorola make history by create first Mobile phone
    now if this project is Successful than Motorola make another history .

  • donger

    Looking forward to this.

  • DAngelo

    Looks like Handspring all over again, but better.

  • renyo

    This just made my week…

  • Sameer

    Its refreshing to read this news. But its not easy to make modular phone. Motorola certainly shows a new innovation. And i admit that i am impress with motorola.

  • Kilgore Trout

    This is a great idea…

    Just like building a gaming computer!!!

    Kudos Motorola!!!

  • Rising33

    Wow this reminds me of Barman’s utility belt lol. And this is why I love technology. Something exciting, lego blocks anyone? Dang I feel like a kid again lol.

  • Rising33

    I meant Batman’s utility belt. Darn auto correct.

    • Andrewoid

      Looks like you’ll need the new hardware keyboard module :-)

  • da9el

    that sounds like a dream indeed! i’m really excited!

  • Saif32

    cool…
    hope it’ll really open and make user can do what they want to their phone!!

  • marley fernandes

    Motorola has always being the “creator”.. yeah they had it’s own up’s and down’s but they always being there, for example “did you know” apple initially took ideas from Motorola?” also don’t forget the fingerprint scanner?… ~Nokia has also being there at the top unfortunately nothing stays up forever but companies like this will always survive.

  • redraider133

    This is awesome. I can’t wait to see what they unveil but I wonder how updates would work with all the different variations?

    • jabby boy

      Updates will work like how it has always worked for PC. Update will come for the base OS then updates on different components depending on what type and brand of components your phone currently has.

  • jamal adam

    Quite the ambitious project but one that I’m looking forward to. As a Google company I feel that Motorola can do it.

  • farizluqman

    This is indeed a dream come true. Upgradable / replacable hardware must be cool! Better than throwing off the whole shit when only screen is defected.

    MOTOROLA CAN DO IT!

  • Ahmed Hassanein

    Holy S##t, I just wet myself with excitement… and i’m not sure its urine. If this becomes a reality (and with Google’s backing i’m sure its only a matter of time) it will open up a slew of posbilities. No longer do i have to tinker with software to feel like an evil genius were talking lets gut our phones and pimp them up inspector gadget style.

  • joker

    We REALLY want to this happen, what a great project, only google like can dare and has the gut to do something like this :) kudos google-motorola !!

  • Seba

    This is not a Motorola idea, I agree that is a great one but didn´t came from Motorola.
    It came from Phonebloks.com and they need support to make it real.

  • ihatefanboys

    Motorolla please give this project fully into Google’s hands. You have proven decidedly over the years that you cannot make a quality phone. Great battery life, thin, thin phones and physical keyboards dont make up for the disappointment some of us have in the horrid Droid series. And dont even get me started on that Moto X crap, a phone that should have just been called the “X Phone”, but turned out to be a fitting moniker because the phone was as gay as the title. If not Google, then give it to HTC, they know how to make a phone.

    • Odie

      They have proven time and time again that they CAN make great phones, but I’ll concede that they don’t always hit it out of the park. I’d imagine that although Motorola is the figurehead here, Google is more than likely already deep into this with them. And the article clearly states that other OEM’s will have full access to the modules that can be added to the base endoskeleton, so we can definitely see HTC offering GPS and cell network modules with Carl Zeiss, Qualcomm and Samsung offering up camera sonsors, SoC’s, and display modules respectively.

      I don’t know what your personal problem with the Moto X is, but please don’t use “gay” as a descriptor, I instantly discredited anything you had to say after reading that. And your opinion on the phone is in the small minority; we’ve seen many reviews which state that, although they were disappointed by the phone based solely on the rumors leading up to actual announcement, the phone itself is good in terms of features, limited overlay on Android, and overall phone quality.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    Exciting, but we may be a couple years away from seeing a product that is comparable to today’s flagship smartphones — being modular, there will be sacrifices, and the first thing that comes into my mind is the size of the phone.

  • ibap

    You mean I could actually get a keyboard on a really good phone? Sign me up!

  • revs

    so this is why google bought motorola …….

  • Fiasko

    I can see awesome things happening with the combination of this and 3D printing.

  • Odie

    This will be amazing if it ever comes to the mass market. I love the idea of being able to build a phone based on the needs of the user. My favorite part is being able to replace what you need, instead of tossing out the entire phone just because of a damaged screen, casing, or even due to a single piece being outdated.

  • Tingu
  • Paul Chambers

    Bad idea for the same reasons the PC market moved away from it. It’ll result in large clunky, heavy, poorly built units. There aren’t enough user variants to make this worth while. Better for Motorola to put the effort into making quality standalone products. Who wants a clunky bitsa when you can get an intelligent designed and crafted handset. Waste of time.

  • Em Fernandez

    About time, somebody stood up! the hardware now catches up with software! was worried there will be an OS war on whose going to run this…since Google stood up to back this. ANdroid just got another leg up! seems that the proverbial fruit company is about to get second place again. h

  • magnum80

    From a technical point of view that is a very cool project. From a user’s point of view there is too much choice. Which module should I take today? Do I need a bigger battery today or a better camera?

  • yeehaw

    make all android phone upgradable, or maybe we can put linu or windows phone os maybe…..?