Flashback: Project Ara promised easy to upgrade modular phones but never delivered

28 July 2019
This project started under Motorola (back when Google owned it), all that's left of it today is a pale imitation - MotoMods.

Sort by:

  • Jonas

The last sentence is not really true:
"Without Ara, phone upgrades are an all-or-nothing proposition."
Well, if you own a Fairphone 3, you can in fact upgrade your front and back camera modules for a better one (12 MP -> 48 MP / 8 -> 16 MP). The new modules were released a year or so after the launch of the phone.
Also, the phone still features a replaceable battery.

So these two very common scenarios mentioned in the article are in fact possible today!
The only remaining question is, whether Fairphone will expand on these possibilities in the future or not. At least, the company seems open to it. :)

No, it would not be cheap even if they say in the concept it would. This always happens in the concept phase - but after they add materials, manufacturer expenses, packaging, global shipping to stores, taxes, support and legal in each country and what not, you quickly realize you cannot afford to sell it for ten dollars. I bet it would be more like 250 - 350 USD for each module. I am kind of glad that project failed.

  • Anonymous

" With Ara, such issues could be solved quickly and cheaply. Without Ara, phone upgrades are an all-or-nothing proposition. "
well there's your reason, lol

  • ??

thgun2, 31 Jul 2019Custom phones you say! Dell did custom computers did not se... morehere system was over £1000 and nothing to show for it he was robbed""

what does been robbed have anything to do with the PC

Anonymous, 28 Jul 2019Much better than the modular idea is simply everyone who ... moreCustom phones you say! Dell did custom computers did not sell in the shops. Look what happened to them they ended up selling in the shops. I know someone who bought a dell custom pc. There system was over £1000 and nothing to show for it he was robbed. So custom phones is not a good idea unless you know what your doing.

Anonymous, 28 Jul 2019Because recently many people stopped doing that, the phones... morePlanned obsolesance and you know who we have to thank for that.

  • Anonymous

What about Puzzlephone guys? Are they still alive? It seems they are working on some modular router... did they abandon the modular phone idea?

  • Lucas

Belive me you, this is the END GAME for phone companies

  • Anonymous

MHanz, 29 Jul 2019It never delivered because ti is bad for business, it can't... moreI have to agree 100%.It is really sad how greed kills the advancement of technology and its improvement.The project is completely is aiming to do completely the opposite of what all Comapanies want,they even sealed the batteries now so you cant replace them,you gotta buy a new phone or pay some crazy repair price.This isn't true just with phones tho,thats the scary part.I read about a very smart guy who made renewable electricity very cheaply in his garage,guess what,all articles are deleted,nobody has ever heard about him since and noone will admit it.Why? so people can pay tons of $$ every month,whats even worse is the negative impact on the planet too but thats a different topic.

It never delivered because ti is bad for business, it can't force people to buy whole new phones every so often now with 24 month carrier contracts fooling the gullible into thinking costly flagship phones have suddenly because "affordable" on a monthly basis. many just turn in their hardly 1.5 year old phone for the next flagship launched because their contract allows them to trade in for so called small (read 1/4th cost) upfront cost for the new phone. They are perpetually slaves to the telcos this way. Pure greed led to the demise of this concept.

  • Anonymous

PeterThePanda, 28 Jul 2019Project Ara died because smartphone manufacturers would rat... more100% agree with you.

Always been about profit maximisation. Nothing worth having in life comes free.

  • Anonymous

Motorola still leading iinovation but leno holding bsck, wish will bring its own brand. Apple should buy Motorola as planned, expensive but worth, leaving google no patent weapon against apple

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 28 Jul 2019They should try again. motorola did tryed very hard and it did not end very well for them

  • Anonymous

Moto Mods are friggin fantastic & convenient to use really. It's just sad the add on accessories haven't been upgraded and no new ones have been realeased lately.

Plus Moto phones are not competitive enough with their pricing to spec ratio

Its a very good idea which deserves further research & prototyping

Carol, 28 Jul 2019Wow, you don't say, because the devices this times are quit... moretrue, not that a 6.5" phone is so small, but beats a 10" tablet size....

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 28 Jul 2019Carol, I still run my Galaxy S6 from release date, had some... moreThe charging cycle for the s9 and s10 have been increased so the battery holds max capacity for longer I thing round 50 %
For a modular battery to have it water proof they need to sort some wireless out

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 28 Jul 2019I personally think that a huge conspiracy could be the forc... moreSecond theory way more possible.

Companies buy projects all the time so that to sunset them.

Main difference with IBM PCs is that they were striving to become popular and generally adopted at the time so they did anything to decrease the cost and thus become more friendly to the average consumers. Replaceable parts was only side effect of it.

Project Ara only happened late in the life of the smartphone industry so it could only serve to cut revenues from android/google partners. So google bought Motorola gutted her and then sold her for pennies. That was the plan to begin with.

As long as we have cartels and no true free markets we will be getting such behaviors. It's better than having a king ordering things to be manufactures, but not much removed from that system.

Hopefully, one day, in a thousand years perhaps, we will have truly free markets and such behaviors would be instantly punishable by the market forces...

  • Anonymous

Electrical circuit never have stable connection, just a light touch on usb or 3.5 audio jack, it will reset the connection.

  • Anonymous

It would never work because these endos will cost close to buying a new phone and the overall size and weight of the phone will be higher. Most people buy cheap chinese phones and dump them in a year or two. Not only cheaper but thinner and lighter.

  • Anonymous

Seems like a nightmare of a phone for the company making it. Too many places where things could go wrong and not nearly enough interest in the product to make it worth the effort.