motorola project ara modular smartphone (2)

Back in September, we first learned about the Phonebloks concept, a bold idea centered around creating a truly customizable handset with swappable parts. At the time, we dismissed the idea as ‘cool’ but unlikely to ever happen. And then Motorola announced Project Ara.

Like the Phonebloks concept, Project Ara is about creating a modular smartphone based on an open platform that makes it easy to customize and upgrade your handset. When it unveiled the project, Motorola revealed that Ara had been in the works for over a year and that they would be partnering up with Phonebloks to popularize the idea.

It’s been nearly a month since we first heard about Project Ara, but that doesn’t mean Motorola hasn’t been working hard on furthering the concept. In fact, today Motorola has now announced that they have signed a multi-year deal with 3D Systems that revolves around Project Ara.

Under the deal, 3D Systems will work to create a “continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system in support of Motorola’s Project Ara.” As part of the agreement, 3D Systems will also be expanding its multi-material printing capabilities. In other words, the upcoming 3D Systems manufacturing process will be as advanced and unique as Project Ara itself.

[quote qtext=”With Project Ara, we asked the question, ‘How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?’ That is our driving application. It requires technical advances in areas such as material strength and printing with conductive inks for antennas. And those advances must support production-level speeds and volumes, which is a natural partnership with 3D Systems.” qperson=”Regina Dugan” qsource=”Senior V.P. and head of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects group” qposition=”center”]

If all goes well, then 3D Systems will eventually end up as Motorola’s exclusive partner for fulfillment of smartphone enclosures and modules.

Although revealing one hardware partner doesn’t necessarily mean that Project Ara is guaranteed to become a commercial product in the near future, it does bring us one small step closer to such a reality. It also shows that Motorola is doing a whole lot more than just talking about Ara.

What do you think, do you like the idea of a modular handset? Conversely, do you feel such an idea will end up too expensive and impractical?

Andrew Grush
Andrew is one of the three Managing Editors of Android Authority, primarily responsible for the overseeing of US team of writers, in addition to several other projects such as VR Source and more. He loves tech, gaming, his family, and good conversations with like-minded folks.
  • MasterMuffin

    This could make a 4000mAh battery a possibility! Dat battery life

  • Patrick Eckert

    This also means cpu gpu to slow no worries snap a new pair in :-D

    • NeedName

      just get the screen size and ppi you want. . . then upgrade as you need. . . that would be pretty nice if they can do it.

  • Ryu

    I love it, and I can’t wait until it becomes something more.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Worthless and too complex to the average non-tech person.

    • Mr knowitall

      Only if everyone is as dumb as you

    • Brian Shieh

      It’s simplified. Pop it in and you’re good to go

    • iDaveG

      What O’ levels do you need to snap two parts together? #snapology

  • SeraZR™

    That cat again :3

  • jeddo45

    I am loving this idea. I could finally get my dream phone! 5.5 1080p super amoled screen, 64gb storage, with some stock android on the boat! That’s awesome right there!

  • iDaveG

    The Phonebloks concept is a great idea but why does it have to be just Android? If all the parts are modular and I can switch for a bigger battery or change my screen, then why can’t the O/S be the same so I can have a flavour of Windows phone O/S or even iOS running on my phone.

    • Adam Capes

      Because iOS/Windows Phone is closed source.
      Also, Google own Motorola and Android, so why wouldn’t they use their own OS on their own phone?

      • iDaveG

        You state something I already know and don’t really explain as to why this can’t be achieved.

        1) Apple/$MS could preload the blok with their O/S and licence to that device.

        2) Multi options for device, in this case the O/S would equal more sales and potentially more users moving to the Phonebloks device as they have several flavours of O/S installed.

        • T.J.

          You really think Apple will put their os on something that they didn’t make? You must be new.

          • iDaveG


            Firstly look at my DISQUS profile to see how new I am, i take it you know how to do that from here or are you new? Then wonder why I normally choose not to comment on these site? My answer would be users like you whom instead of saying something constructive would rather spend their time with childish comments on threads. Is it because I want another O/S instead of Android, did your open source brain get hacked and you couldn’t help yourself.

            Secondly I know Apple are a closed source and very unlikely to do this but we are talking about a product here that could revolutionise the smartphone industry and while Google are behind Project Ara then the phone will only see one O/S installed. But close your eyes and be creative if you can, and think of the bigger picture. A Smartphone for all.

          • T.J.

            We can imagine all kinds of things that will never happen but that wouldn’t be constructive. I can’t wait for the Apple Nexus phone.

    • Tiago Azevedo

      No, thank you. This is a Motorola (owned by Google) project and it is perfectly normal only Android (also owned by Google) is the choice as the OS for ARA. Motorola said they want ARA to be in the hardware world what Android is in the software’s, so even they can’t concept closed platforms to work on something they want totally open.

  • andrei

    Sweet. Please release it in 2014. I will buy this for all my family. Genius . Mix and match all specs based on the price you wanna spend . 1 shape from entry level to top notch . And upgradable year after year maintaing a chasis …. brilliant , genius , outstanding . Atention . This means no more consumism …. you can get a grip on something and upgrade . Nowadays hyc its tricking you with non removable battery . Change the phone what the hack …..