Why a Modular Phone Isn’t Great – Project Ara

So we know that Google has essentially axed their long awaited project Ara a couple months ago. I know many are disappointed in it’s downfall, but I wanted to share a little of why I personally don’t think it would ever be something to do.

First, I would like to preface this by explaining how much something like this would be amazing to me. I’m a huge nerd. I’ve enjoyed building my own computers for years now. I spend countless hours looking through parts before I find what’s right for me; and I love every minute of it. The issue that I see with truly modular phones (not like the Moto Z) is one thing:

Wear

Unlike personal computers, smartphones are handled constantly. We take them in and out of our pockets, move them around, drop them, push on them as we touch the screen and the list goes on. Personal computers typically stay in one place for the life of the PC. Sure, you’ll be swapping out new modules sometimes, but the core system that everything attaches to doesn’t.

Currently, phones manufacturers are on a one year cycle on new releases. Many people end up keeping their devices for one to two years. The issue at the end of that cycle isn’t typically speed, but wear. For those where speed is an issue, they may upgrade the CPU module, but the others will need to be replaced shortly after due to wear anyway. This means even some of the most ardent of power users will essentially be getting a whole new phone in roughly the same time they do now. Sure, they can upgrade along the way, but even if they upgrade once a year, the other modules will require an upgrade shortly due to wear instead of age. We’re talking maybe a few more months before all the modules need to be replaced (basically a new phone).

Of course, there are some scenarios where such a device could be beneficial, but I believe the average consumer would find this much more of a hassle than a benefit. What do you think though? Let me know in the comments below.

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