Build Your Own smartphone: Google Project Ara


Project Ara is the codename for a Google initiative that aims to create modular smartphones by developing an open hardware platform. This would mean that users will be able to swap modules for newer , more advanced ones or replace malfunctioning modules easily,while potentially reducing electronic waste.

The modules can be for display,camera or an extra battery. According to Google, the phone is designed to be used by six billion people, including the one billion smartphone users and the five billion feature phone users. It aims to sell a starter pack which costs $50 and includes a frame, display,battery,low end CPU and WiFi. Project Ara also aims to lower the entry barrier for phone hardware manufacturers so that more people would come forward with their own modules , just like the Google Play store system.

The notion behind building a modular smartphone with swappable components is that users are looking for cheap smartphones that last for a long time. Project Ara provides just that. You can easily add modules to the phone based on your choices. If you expect heavy usage of your phone for a particular day, you can add an extra battery module. If you want a better camera to capture precious moments, you can add it. Maybe you prefer lots of storage over everything else.
Ara will run on a modified version of Android L,the successor of the current Android Kitkat.

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Google mostly worked with its former subsidiary, Motorola Mobility on this project, but it currently lists several others as partners on it Web page, including manufacturer Foxconn, chipmaker Rockchip,and hardware companies Toshiba and Quanta.

Project Ara has higher stake than Google’s other moonshot projects like self driving cars or internet blasting balloons. In a few months time,the Advanced Technology And Projects  (ATAP) group has to actually prove that Ara can work. It has to have a critical mass of module developers and potential consumers. In fact, they are targeting the 5 billion people who don’t yet have a smartphone. If they can pull it off, it could be a huge deal. Hardware manufacturers won’t have to try to convince giant phone makers to include their parts in big name phones. They can just sell them directly to consumers. Consumers won’t have to throw away their old phones when they want to upgrade.

We can expect more news on Project Ara as its release date is getting closer.

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  1. I see this being a very effective way of upgrading phones in today’s society. It’s a brilliant idea and I am looking forward to the release of Project Ara.

  2. this products presents a paradox of choice. im left with so many options and financial decisions that i am not willing to face, personally. it provides me with a barrier to entry of getting a heavily customizable and changing smart phone personally. It appears to really aiming at lowering the cost of entry to financially burdened customers who cant fork over the hundreds of dollars in a lump sum purchase for a premium smartphone (understandable), and then add onto it upgrades like a better camera, battery pack, better speakers, etc. when they are financially able. it reminds me of kind of like a souping up a cheap car with rims, exhaust, interior, engine upgrades and other accessories. For that reason, I dont seeing it catching on with the users of premium smartphones, that will not be their market, but the lower cost fringe smartphone users would likely be their market, which could prove to be effective because that is a fairly large part of the smartphone market. It will be very interesting to see how this project develops, but I don’t see it being as major of a project or threat to smartphones as it has been hyped up to be, it will be yet again another fringe smartphone that has the cool social factor, but doesnt serve enough of a premium functionality factor for me, I’d rather go with their nexus or another premium smartphone.

    • Because selecting grade A components and being able to change them at every whim is so much worse than buying a run of the mill “premium” phone of which you will never use 50% of it’s features at double the cost.

    • You should look at that link. It states in the video on there that they never intended to be a phone manufacturer, only to inspire the current technology titans to adapt their approach to meet consumers real needs. They are in fact working with Google on the Ara project.

    • Dat ignorance tho. I’ve been tracking this from the start and basically, PhoneBloks was a concept that went viral. After it did, Motorola invited them over to show the Project Ara which they were working on, and the phoneblocks guys actually helped in early stage designing.

      Google search would’ve helped you out.

  3. Modular phones, like modular computers, will finally allow user to tailor phones precisely to their needs.

    This is such a huge step, to finally be free from always having to compromise with the lowest common denominator of what a manufacturer thinks a good phone (with a high margin) is and instead we’ll be able to weigh the priorities on our devices ourselves.

    A properly build device is like a tailormade suit, most people that always “off the shelf” will never understand, but once you experienced it you won’t go back.

  4. Do a Google search for Regina Dugan.

    She was the 19th director at DARPA, left in March 2012, to go… guess where? ATAP at Google, directly managing and overseeing Project Ara, a phone they say is “designed for six billion people” aka, the entire population of earth. Coincidence?


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