If you like the idea of a modular phone whereby you can upgrade individual components of a smartphone, Project Ara may not be your only choice. Finland’s Circular Device is working on a similar device called Puzzlephone, a simpler take on modular phones, and it will be launched next year.
Puzzlephone consists of three elements – the Spine (LCD, speakers and basic structure), the Heart (the battery and secondary electronics), and the Brain (processor and camera modules). Like how Project Ara works, users will be able to change and upgrade individual components as and when they need to, reducing wastage and extending the lifespan of a mobile phone. Why change the entire phone when it’s only the processor and battery that are ageing? Just swap them out.
Circular Devices have been working on the device since 2013, and it is scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2015, with a “mid-range” price. For the start, Puzzlephone will run on an Android OS fork ready-to-deploy OS, and will work on supporting others, while defining a consistent hardware and software for third-party developers.
We’ve seen different modular phone concept from other players as well, back in CES 2014, ZTE showed off its Eco-Mobius modular phone that is a lot more similar to Project Ara. Last year, Lei Jun, the CEO and founder of Xiaomi, teased something called a Magic Cube on his Weibo account. Magic Cube also looks very similar to Project Ara, which has a more complex build compared to Puzzlephone, and the ability to change individual components instead of just relying on three major parts. Of course, the one from ZTE was just a teaser, and the one from Xiaomi has been removed from Lei Jun’s Weibo shortly after it was posted – Puzzlephone is much more closer to reality and if all things goes well, the launch date is scheduled for September 2015.
Will modular phone be a thing for 2015/2016?