Motorola’s Project Ara aims to become open standard for modular smartphones

by XB on 29th October 2013

in News

wpid-modules-283e329ee51bbee11f4765c3501e7d1b-640x320.jpgThe dream of the modular smartphone has taken a step closer to reality with Motorola’s announcement of a new initiative called Project Ara. Motorola has been working on Project Ara for a year, aiming to become a free,  open hardware platform to create “highly modular” smartphones.

The idea behind Project Ara is to “create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines“. Essentially you would be able to swap certain parts of the phone, like the camera module, chipset or battery.


It’s a powerful idea that could revolutionise the mobile landscape, by making expensive upgrades a thing of the past. People could upgrade parts of their phone as they see fit. As well as the cost benefits, a phone’s useful life would be extended well beyond the two years of most current phone contracts.

The design is based on a structural frame called the endoskeleton that allows you to place and swap various modules. This could, in theory, include Sony parts for the camera or dedicated audio chips.

Whilst it is likely to be a long time before any of this is commercially available,  it could indicate where the smartphone industry may be headed. It is all also difficult to ignore with the might of Google behind it. It could do for the open mobile hardware ecosystem what it already has done on the open software side with Android.

Is this a future you would like to see? Does the idea of swapping components on your mobile excite you? Where do think this would leave Sony as a mobile manufacturer? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.


Via Motorola Blog.

  • xperiaz1yo

    I think this is a good idea. It makes our whole smartphone truly our own.

  • Micro

    I have seen this idea like 2 years ago on some private projects (Motorola is not the first one), the idea was good from the beginning..
    but IMO only the idea, nothing more, because it has one, huge disadvantage for me…
    IT IS UGLY, this idea simply ruins any creative design for such a device
    like we cannot have xenon in 8mm body, we cannot make it work with any design other than ugly “lego”
    I am not complaining, just.. this idea is something great enough to make me happy to see the concept growing somewhere around me, but not enough to make my buy anything like that.

  • Shanky Mantri

    I think even there’s something like this concept was hit 2 months ago on fb viz… PHONEBLOCKS….so i am just waiting 4 some reality showdown….

  • dacha

    This idea was presented by indipendent “developer” sony fan for xperia, year ago as I remember.
    My two cents are that mobiles are gona become same as PCs. Firstly there was Sinclare and Commodore. One couldn’t change anything except to add peripherals. Later on came PCs, on which one could change hdd, graphic cards, processors, etc. After that with better pc one could upgrade to new software.
    Same will be with phones. Modular changes initially, after that we will be able to switch between android, iOS, etc.

  • Micro

    That’s interesting point of view, however, I think that mobiles are not going to became same as PCs. Pretty much for the same reason Laptops didn’t. Sure you can attach some peripherals, replace a battery or DVD drive, but main parts are not replaceable. Laptop is mobile, standard PC is not. Phone is a mobile device too, so it have some limits if it is going to stay mobile. I think unless we want to see PC-like, relatively big stationary phones made from bricks, this is not gonna happen. We already can replace batteries or screens in our phones, I don’t believe it will end the same way like with PC.

  • pongnamu

    Very creative idea…
    If someone likes heavy games, they can put better processor in there…
    If someone love photos, they can put lower processor and put 20MP camera…
    The definition of “phone” will change! Everyone in the street will have their own phones!

  • goldmike

    sony should do it

  • The Rock

    Motorola is still alive????

  • Imran Khan

    I like New walkman update its very easy to search and play any song quickly.

  • Micz

    How about Sony xtrud??

  • Mac

    but you can easily change hdd, network adapter and stuf like that in a laptop as well. RAM memory, processor and so on.

  • Kaostheory

    Size is the key. Desktop lots of extra space, laptops are a little tighter. Everyone wants there phone/tab to have the most in the least amount of space. Modular would always need more space.

  • Guest

    I think maybe if it was all the same colour it would look better, like all white or maybe a black and silver combo, I think its just these colours which make it seem ugly…

  • saif

    though the idea behind is good but seems that the looks will be compromised. Design is the one of the key elements for sony and I don’t wanna loose it.

    worth noting that the economy of the companies may dilute so the acceptance chance is low.

  • Richard

    Since when xperiablog became motorola blog?

  • Jesús López Sotelo

    Are you serious?

  • Raj Singh

    Why are you mentioning the Walkman app update in a post about modular phones?

  • Pikachu

    Here comes the “free-to-play” model adapted to the smarphones world.

  • Ethan ‘blaze’ Parker

    Laptop processors are soldered to motherboard. -_- You can’t change them.

  • DoDaDum

    Not really, it all depends on the model. I have two laptop at home that are socket based. If I choose to upgrade the processor, I can.

  • DoDaDum

    Maybe interchangeable back plate?

  • Mac

    Aight u might be right on that, I was a bit insecure, but still your able to change some parts at least. or change the whole motherboard?

  • Micro

    the thing is, nothing you actually replace/change in the laptop don’t have any impact on it’s design, even laptop never change it’s shape no matter what you replace :)

  • Iraklion Tabagarius

    its time to begin!!!

  • P9

    awesome, not so bad

  • Cemnotar

    I would definitely want one :)

  • Mohammed Khired

    “Does the idea of swapping components on your mobile excite you? ”


  • Babylonbwoy

    Yes but you have to send your PC to a repair center or or having good knowledge to make it yourself , it is more related to repairing. What they want to do, in my opinion, is allowing everyone, even without technical knowledge to replace, change, upgrade or customize smartphones with everything being removable easily I presume.

    A good step against planned obsolescence if the project will see the light of day.

  • Roy

    Assuming something can be done regarding the look on the back side and that multiple manufacturers can design parts for the same skeleton instead of each having its own, yeah.

  • HardyHarHar

    Wow! Is this a dream or what? I mean did it came from Motorola? A “Google” owned company? Who makes those infamous “Nexus” brands where replaceable battery and external/replaceable storage memory does not exist? @.@

  • mode893

    Might make smartphones unstable as certain hardware parts would not have been tested to work efficiently with the other.

  • josesl16

    Wouldn’t this breed a lot of compatibility and driver problems? Smartphones are not desktops, after all, at least not yet.

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