Not just Project Ara, but the modular smartphone idea, is what will revolutionize the way in which we approach gadgets. Google’s Project Ara is the most popular among modular smartphone designs, but there are others out there working to give us, consumers, smartphones that we don’t have to throw away after a year, because we can upgrade the hardware. Fairphone or Fairphone 2 are already on the market, and while they’re not exactly the same type of modular, they’re still modular.
The fact that the Fairphone is already on the market and there’s interest in it shows that modular gadgets are something that we, the consumers want. Which is true, because more and more people are concerned about eco-friendly tech, environmentalism, creating less waste, spending less money and so on. A modular phone like Project Ara can change the way in which we use technology (and put a bit of a thorn into big companies’ sides, for a long time). The Fairphone 2 can do just as well, as the phone is comprised of the same modules that make up its hardware, but it can only be swapped out with identical parts. The idea behind Fairphone is different, because the company promotes welfare policies, strict ethics and uses conflict-free sources in its manufacturing process.
Both Project Ara and Fairphone are promoting eco-friendliness, and while there is less transparency involved with Fairphone, the idea is taking hold. Project Ara, although almost two years behind Fairphone, is progressing and new modules are being revealed. Toshiba has recently unveiled its own Project Ara camera modules and fans are already enjoying the options that people will have once Project Ara goes official.
Toshiba revealed one 5 MP module and one 13 MP module that will be made available to Project Ara users, and the sensors will definitely appeal to those who want to be able to customize their phones. Those who want professional-grade photos might not be content with 13 MP, but the sensor will be rather good for the usual tasks that a smartphone camera is used for (leisurely ones, mostly). The 5 MP could be for those who don’t really use their smartphones to take artistic photos, rather just snapping bus signs and schedules because they’re lazy to write.
Project Ara is rounding out with new modules and the excitement around the actual launch is building up. People have been waiting for a way to revolutionize smartphones, and Project Ara could be that. Phonebloks (who started it off) and Project Ara have a lot of potential in reducing waste, promote eco-friendly solutions and support independent manufacturers. What this might be called is supporting the alternative, which is extremely catchy. Most people are convinced that Project Ara can’t be anything but a successful business. But you never know. Android 5.0 Lollipop didn’t turn out as magnificent as anticipated, and that can happen to any product anybody makes.
Nonetheless, Project Ara is progressing and the list of modules that will be available to future owners is growing. The endoskeleton of the phone, which is what will hold all the modules, including the display, processor, camera, speaker, RAM and memory modules. Besides Toshiba, there are many other hardware manufacturers already working on modules for Project Ara, but there’s no official, definitive list of all the modules that are going to be available. So take this with a grain of salt, because while some of these (like Toshiba) are confirmed, some are not, at least not officially.
The Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU will be one of the processor modules for Project Ara that people will be able to buy, and while that chipset is pretty neat, there must be something even better lined up. A 4G LTE Marvell PXA1928 communications processor is also on the list, as is a Rockchip CPU for the budget-friendly module list of Project Ara. Yezz is also working on a variety of modules, including a game controller, NFC chip, camera module and battery module.
There are Project Ara modules in development that can fulfill the purpose of both a screen-protector and an extra e-ink display on the back of the phone. New speaker modules, camera modules, waterproofing modules, projector modules and others are in development and word is thousands (if not millions) of developers are wirking with the Project Ara MDK to make their own modules. The true phone of the future is Project Ara, because it’s not Google who’s making it entirely: it’s anyone who wants to buy it. Supporting a partnership between tech companies, all the while protecting the environment is a good combination that will definitely add to the popularity of Project Ara.
But there’s still a long time to wait until the Project Ara release date arrives. Google has only said that it would begin sending out prototypes to test markets this Summer. There’s no info about an actual release date available, and the same goes for pricing and availability. We’re sure that once a list of module manufacturers is published, we’ll know more about the waiting time we have left.