Remember Phonebloks and how we all had a good laugh about how unworkable and idealistic it was? It turns out Motorola has been working on a similar project for the last year, and it's called Project Ara. This is really happening.


Here's what Ara is, according to Motorola:

The design for Project Ara consists of what we call an endoskeleton (endo) and modules.  The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter--or something not yet thought of!

Motorola isn't just taking the Phonebloks vision and running with it. The company will be working with Phonebloks and its developer community to make a modular phone possible. Motorola will soon start seeking input from so-called Ara Scouts to help the Google subsidiary shape the future of Project Ara. In a few months, Motorola will begin inviting developers to design modules for the Ara platform – a Module Developer's Kit (MDK) could be ready as soon as this winter.


It almost goes without saying, but if Motorola (with Google's backing) can make this work, it's going to be an honest-to-goodness revolution in the smartphone industry. Want a better camera, but don't need much storage? You can spend big on the image sensor and cheap-out on the NAND. Speaker in your phone busted? Just disconnect it and add a new module. Rather than buy a whole new phone, you could simply upgrade the parts you want.


It's also worth noting the crowd-sourced "Thunderclap" campaign for Phonebloks is happening in about 9 hours. So, the timing here seems very convenient. This idea sounds insane, but maybe it has a real shot now.

[Motorola Blog, Ara Scouts]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • TSON1


    • Joshua Lowe


    • Jason

      So that's how they caught that LG G2 thief...

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    Holy *****

  • Joseph Cascio

    Actually, if anyone could pull this off, it would be Motorola.

    • Ark

      You mean google.

      • Joseph Cascio

        No. I meant Motorola. Even though they are owned by Google, they are still operating independently. Just as if nothing ever changed.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

          Not even remotely close to true. Google and Android are firewalled. However, Google cleaned house when it bought Motorola and installed a ton of new executive talent, including but not limited to a former Google VP as the new CEO of Motorola.

          Motorola is about as independent from Google as David's face is from key lime pie.

          • Freak4Dell

            So...pretty darn independent other than maybe 2 or 3 minutes that one time?

          • Joseph Cascio

            Trust me if Google had a part in this, their name would be all over this announcement. You would hear Google and not Motorola. Also, Nexus 5 is made by LG. If they were working together it would be by Motorola. Plus this has been in the works for over a year. Google hasn't own Motorola that long.

          • Freak4Dell

            Google has owned Motorola since May, 2012.

            But yeah, I agree. If Google was heavily involved (other than being an unlimited ATM), they likely would have had their name on this. Google has never been afraid to put their names on highly experimental, almost laughable technology before, so I don't see why they would start now.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            Okay, I implicitly trust you, internet person. No one on the internet who has ever said "trust me" has ever been wrong before, so I know this can only go well.

            Except, I mean, that you're completely, totally, and 100% wrong about when Google bought Motorola. The purchase was finalized in May of 2012. It is currently October 2013. Which means Google has owned Motorola for roughly one year and five months: https://investor.google.com/releases/2012/0522.html

            But yeah, anyway, totally trusting you because you said so. Thanks for the info, dude!

      • http://www.JWesCampbell.com/ Wes Campbell

        I think he meant google...

  • Chris Webster

    Crazy company say what?!?!?!

  • Fifth313ment

    Are we getting close to April... Oh sh!t we're not! THIS IS REALZ!?!? LOL

    • ins0mn1a

      i seriously looked at the date when i saw this. totally expected to see april 1st there.

  • cabbiebot


  • Jeremiah Rice

    I wrote the original Phonebloks post and called it ambitious and unrealistic. See this? This is me eating sweet, delicious crow.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'm expecting a video of you eating the Nexus 4 cut up into no less than 19 pieces.

      • Justin Swanson

        I'd watch that...

      • Bojan Gutic

        I'd be more impressed if he swallowed it whole, to be honest.

        • CA719

          You need better sex partners.

          • Bojan Gutic


          • Trent Callahan

            Or one that's best.

          • TheLoooooooooord

            Like Me ;)

      • valapsp

        That was a lost bet i guess!

    • cabbiebot

      I wouldn't feel bad. After long enough on this beat, you come to know 95% of it is vaporware. This concept beat the odds.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      That's a funny way of spelling "dick."

    • NinoBr0wn

      Any sauce in particular?

      • TheLoooooord

        your mums vagina sauce

    • http://about.me/jovanphilip Jovan Philip

      I love how you got called out on your seriously dickish post in the comments and now you are proven to be one.

    • stallman

      fuck you, you piece of faggy shit. Phonecocks sucks balls

    • gargamel

      Yeah, you have this tendency to insult. As I wrote to you a couple of times, better be more humble, and when you want to criticize, better explain or give facts why you think something is not good or might not work.
      Your opinions don't have much credibility as it stands, be more serious.

    • http://www.droid-den.com Rachid

      I think we all laughed at Phonebloks... And that's why we don't work at Google :P

    • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

      You were still right in that post though. With nothing but a dream and a social media campaign, the idea *was* ambitious and unrealistic. With Google backing it, well, that changes everything.

      • Chris

        What I find interesting is that they are using Motorola as it's front. Honestly, it's a very healthy approach to returning profits back to Motorola. Cheers to Google.

    • Eric Jones

      That's great that you can admit you were wrong, but I would wait until they actually make these, and people are actually interested in purchasing them. I'm not convinced they can make this work well, or that it's appealing to very many people at all.

    • Luis Alberto Caro Marchesi

      The problem is the selling point, the idea of letting you extend the life of your phone doesn't work because nobody wants that, but the idea of customizing it at the time you purchase it, that's the real winner. I put together a similar article explaining my point. check it out http://madlizzard.com/blog/motorolas-project-ara-great-project-wrong-approach/

      • Andrew Bargen

        The problem that could arise is that big name smartphone manufactures wouldn't necessarily be interested in switching from the big profit margins of a "whole phone" to the modular pieces. One other thing that could become frustrating is the likeliness of manufacturers forking the idea and making "bases" and "modular pieces" only supported by each other. ...opposed to a open standard used by all

        • Luis Alberto Caro Marchesi

          Yeah I can see apple doing that, anyways, the profit part wouldn't be a problem, they would probably be more expensive, just like car spares.

    • SickoPsycho

      I totally want to upvote this but 420 upvotes just seems like a good number? Do you really need one more?

  • Cielmerlion

    Yes please!

  • Mememe

    Google will try anything, can't wait to see how this comes out

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Holy. Shit. With Motorola leading the charge, the Phonebloks concept might actually become real. I never thought it would actually happen, and they said they'd been working on it for over a year now.

    Mind. Blown.

    It's so beautiful: http://d34mutrupcsqne.cloudfront.net/assets/ara/device-049458bbcff603e9316248aa02eaeedd.jpg

    • http://rootzwiki.com/news Max M.

      I like how Phonebloks is supposed to start their campaign in less than an hour and Moto comes in to steal the show.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Well, they did say they're working with Phonebloks. I don't even think Phonebloks is necessary anymore at this point. Just merge the two.

        • didibus

          I don't even understand phonebloks. Is it a company, or just a couple hardware amateurs who were going to try to come up with schematics and design docs for it? Or is it only a petition, trying to show hardware makers there is interests in such a modular phone so that they would maybe try and build one?

          • Nicklas

            I think it's basically just a couple of guys who thought of this really cool idea and wanted to push phone manufacurers to try and make it real.

    • Stranger Danger

      Do you think Andy Rubin left his Android post for this?

      • NF

        I think Rubin is supposed to be in the Google X division. You know, the part of Google that innovates. (You think this is innovation? I'm sure Google has even more impressive stuff in labs.)

    • br_hermon

      Artem, wouldn't you say this more or less confirms organized controlled leaks? I mean we've seen EVERYTHING about the Nexus 5 and are completely taken by surprise with Project Ara?? If Moto can keep a tight lid on that, then LG can keep one on the Nexus 5, right? Seems proof that leaks are a sure-fire, corporately used, publicity hype machine.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        No, absolutely not. Project Ara is internal to Motorola, and there are no devices hitting the market. The Nexus 5 has been in testing in multiple countries for months.

      • NF

        Well, there are photos of Nexus 5s in warehouses. I mean, there's only a certain level of secrecy that can be kept.

    • DaBlaSit

      I don't know, even if a huge company is making it, the thought of having multiple companies make the modules doesn't sound feasible. Read this article on why this idea is not as simple to make a profitable reality, there are some really good arguments economics and industry wise: http://www.popsci.com/article/gadgets/why-lego-style-phonebloks-concept-will-fall-apart

  • Dan

    I'll take 149304 extra battery modules please

    • Joseph Cascio

      But it's motorola. They have great batteries so you will only need about 100 or so.

      • http://www.lcpint.com/ Lorenzo Cascio Palmieri

        We have the same surname! :)

        Sorry for the OP

    • Shamu

      imagine 100 week long battery life haha

      • jon

        Apple would make an iPhone that couldn't be recharged.

  • Alexander Terry

    I think someone came up with the idea of a block based phone a while back, I think it was called block phone. Looking for a link.

    • Dimitri Kandalepas
      • Alexander Terry

        See edit.

    • Steve Freeman

      The 2nd word in the article mentions the name of the company that first came up with the idea. Good job though Sherlock.

      • Alexander Terry

        I skimmed the article!

  • Ruben Martinez Jr.

    OH MY GOD.

  • Euan Tan

    This is a beautiful concept. I would buy it in a heartbeat... if my heart is still beating after seeing this *-*

  • mance

    THIS is real innovation, not slapping a fingerprint scanner on a phone.

    • Joseph Cascio

      Damn...I think I'm gonna start selling Aloe Vera in front of the Apple store. brb

    • Mehmet Fatih

      Which is pretty useless

    • Guest


    • Gnex


      • ThirdDegreeiPhone

        As instructed:

        • Joshua Lowe

          Oh. .. MY god. I love you.

          • odo

            I think you have mistaken this for some sort of religious forum.

        • SkylaC90

          Remember kids, ios7 will not magically make you phone waterproof. but ios8 will.

          • Albert H

            BUT...BUT... iOS7 has AirDrop! That means I can throw my iPhone out of the window and it will survive!

            Thank you so much apple team. I was waiting this update. Its really great gravity friendly and smooth.

        • Gnex

          Impressive... Most impressive.

    • Joshua Barta

      Of course, if a fingerprint scanner is what you want it seems like it would be trivial to slap one in a Project Ara based phone...

  • Shamu

    Just imagine a moto x maker....but with all this!!!!

    • sciwizam

      More like Moto Mixer, amirite?

      • Shamu

        indeed my good sir

    • Taylor

      This does make the existence of the Moto X Maker more understandable. It seemed over the top to have a whole nicely designed webapp dedicated to colors and storage space. A Moto X Maker where you can choose your camera's resolution, battery size, or processor would be amazing.

    • Eric Jones

      *available only on ATT.

  • Mehmet Fatih

    Holy shit.

  • http://www.twitter.com/joshuaworth Joshua Worth

    What in the literal fuck!?! Innovation!

  • miri

    I'd like to see iFixit's reparability score for this :P

    • DJ SPY

      I think the point of this is to not repair but rather replace the parts

      • akshay7394

        Ii think he was jokingg

      • Nevi_me

        His point is that it'd be 10/10

  • DJ SPY

    I remember MKBHD making a video basically laughing at the idea. I want to see his face when he finds out about this.

    • Ark

      ...no. He basically says it's an utopian heaven, and says he'd absolutely love it if it came true.

    • Trent Callahan

      He made a response video, praising it. It was unconventional if they didn't get a good backing, but Motorola WITH Google is an extremely good backing! Nobody expected this, it's going to be amazing. Maybe now everyone will have similar phones... :D

      EDIT: I call the Lumia camera.

  • http://www.cmdann.ca/ CMDann

    Would be cool if this actually panned out.

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    Smartphones are the new desktop PCs.

  • Tuấn Ankh

    If it's gonna look that thin and beautiful, why not? :D

  • Eli Loewen

    If the phone runs Android, how will new/different drivers be loaded by the kernel when new modules are introduced?

    • dextersgenius

      If the kernel is already complied with the relevant drivers, then the modules would be picked up automatically. Otherwise, they might have to release updated kernels regularly. I imagine no one would enjoy recompiling a kernel on a phone..

      • h4rr4r

        The problem is ARM has no PCI or similar method to check what devices are installed. The driver themselves are also often not compatible with each other. This has been a big deal for mainline for the last few years.

        As to compiling the kernel you would cross compile on a computer, just as we do now.

    • Eric Jones

      Just insert the CD that came with your new module, and install the drivers.

  • DJ SPY

    Anyone notice the cat in one of the blocks? Lol sly, cool cat you are Motorola.

  • mystilleef

    Still skeptical.

  • stealthvoodoo

    Nuff said?

  • Bala

    A new era has begun

  • Guest
  • Guest

    And we said it wasn't possible...

  • going hard

    im getting my free ara.

  • Alex James Simon

    Looks I'm gonna have to get a smartphone again lol been using the Nexus 7 with a tracphone to save money, but this... Lol

  • Joshua Barta

    I hope they do this with tablets too... come to think of it, they should design components such that the same components could be used in either a phone or a tablet.

    • Alex James Simon

      Anybody hoping for a Motorola Nexus 7 now lol :D

      • Justin Foster

        I could imagine the advertisement: Meet the Nexus x, the first smartphone from Google that always has the latest version of Android AND the latest hardware

  • Vito Cassisi

    The Phonebloks concept deserved the flack. All general purpose computer devices in our homes are modular, it was only logical to expand that to phones. There was zero engineering or capital involved, and the 3D render they used had fundamentally broken ideas of what modules would have to exist, and the interface in which they'd connect (a grid of pin holes, really?). Motorola went out and put the real effort in to engineer a feasible prototype. Motorola deserve the credit here, not Phonebloks. The partnership reads much like a marketing strategy for Motorola.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Thank you. I still contend Phonebloks was impossible as presented. This is simultaneously more conservative and more plausible. Now I'm allowed to be excited.

    • didibus

      Well, Moto says they worked on it for more than a year, was phoneblok shown earlier or later than that?

    • Mike Harris

      The only thing about this project that concerns me is the possibility that we might be limited as to what can be used. What I mean is, there might be no way to "max out" the options if we're limited in space. For example, if I want to get the biggest, bestest battery, does that mean I might be stuck having to go with a sub-par camera? Or if I want the max amount of RAM, does that mean I won't have enough space leftover to add much storage?

      If those limitations do turn out to be real, I can see a lot of us carrying around extra modules (other than 100 extra batteries) so we can primarily use the slots for the things we need the most, but retain the ability to change it up when needed.

      I'm also curious to know exactly how much will be relegated to a module, compared to what will be embedded in the board. Could things like 3G/4G/Wi-fi radios be built into a module? And if so, does that also mean that we could finally have a universal phone that could work on any carrier, as long as we have their module?

  • Alvin Brinson

    Sacred Mackerel!

    If this happens .... and is affordable .... .... it may not revolutionize commodity phones as much, but would certainly revolutionize the enthusiast market.

  • yippiedad

    Maybe this was what Guy Kawasaki was referring to in March: http://goo.gl/P6fU4u

    • HARLAN P

      that came to mind too

  • Jose Marie Maquinay

    I always believed that Google will do something great with Motorola. And this one doesnt disappoint. I'm very happy on this project. I seriously hope it becomes a real product!

    Cant wait to become a MOTO owner again!

    • cabbiebot

      Agree. It was the hope of many that the expensive acquisition of Moto could be more than just intellectual property for patent defense.

  • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

    DAMN...... my jaw just dropped to the floor.......
    Is this Google's doing??

  • the head gahnoo

    install gentoo

    • h4rr4r

      And put a big wing on it.
      Gentoo: Linux for ricers!

  • Alex James Simon

    2 words TRUE innovation :-)

  • jake044

    Would there be modules on the front? Like, if my front facing camera broke or I want front facing speakers?

    • Chris Webster

      I imagine that those would be included in the screen module at the very least. I'm sure it will make some kind of grid system on the front to allow switching of the FFC and speakers

      • EH101

        The FFC and speakers could be on a backside module still but with cutouts in the screen to let them function. The speaker cutout would be covered by a grill and the FFC/sensors just need a clear window really. So the front side appearance would still be clean.

        The advantage would be not having to replace the entire screen when the speaker blows. The screen would most likely be among the most expensive components.

  • Unknown182

    You are about to get a lot of traffic from Imgur.

  • Jeremy Martin

    I bet Verizon does not sell this phone. They will cite something along the lines of "could potentially hinder our network performance" or some other BS.

  • gmaninvan

    First the X now this! Moto is quickly proving to be the most innovative company in mobile right now.

    • Freak4Dell

      Nah, man...Samsung just announced that you can scroll by raising your eyebrow. That's clearly the most innovative thing in the world.

      • gmaninvan

        Having a tough time trying to determine if you are being sarcastic lol. If you aren't, a phone that is always listening and contextually aware is far more innovative than an eyebrow scroll

  • ConCal

    What the what??? Soooooo cool...

  • Twilightlicous

    Android would need a MAJOR overhaul to support hardware swapping like this.

    • h4rr4r

      First ARM would.
      Right now there is no way to probe hardware on startup, so linux the kernel can't load the right modules, which means android would never even get started.

      • Freak4Dell

        What if they just set up like Moto Maker kiosks everywhere, and you go there to get your modules changed out? That way, a new kernel could be compiled for you so that you could boot. If the modules are only released by Motorola, I could see this working well. Of course, if knockoffs start showing up on eBay, we'll have problems.

        • h4rr4r

          Then I would immediately lose interest. That would be worse than me building my own kernel.
          The ideal solution would be to fix ARM or get INTEL onboard and get something like PCI worked out. Then get as much of the drivers as possible into the mainline kernel.

          • Freak4Dell

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but if they do this, it's not going to be for the nerd that wants to compile his own kernel. A place you can go to upgrade your phone brings this to the general public.

            Intel could be the solution (and I hope that's at least something they consider...I love Intel), but they'll still have to change the way Android is designed and make it more like Windows in order for that to work out. If Google is all-in with this, then that's possible, but if it's going to remain a Motorola thing, the Moto Maker stores is probably what will happen.

          • h4rr4r

            Any idiot can compile a kernel. Far more likely they offer software that does it for you. Going to a separate place adds a lot of cost for motorola and headache for the customer.

            More like windows? You have no idea what you are talking about clearly.
            Android is running on linux, it already handles hardware in a better way than windows. The drivers go in the kernel, not android. A simple init script could even create build.prop on boot.

          • Freak4Dell

            Hey look...a self-righteous technogeek that can't see 2mm past his own nose. Never seen one of those before. /s

            Just because you or I could compile a kernel doesn't mean Grandma could. You clearly have no idea of the technical ability of the general public. Your business knowledge is also lacking.

            It needs to be more like Windows in that universal drivers are included to allow basic boot up and then updated from there. Ditching ARM gets us halfway there but most builds still wouldn't work even with a system that supports hardware probing.

          • Ricardo Kummel

            Maybe ARM is already ahead of us??
            They could use the ISA standard instead of PCI (using IRQs instead of creating a new bus just for that).. Remember that you don't need all things to be installed to be able to use the phone and there's a finite number of changes you can make on the Ara meaning you couldn't change the Micro USB port for a camera module, but you could change it to a Micro USB3 port that's compatible. Same with the battery, same with the camera (just need a new camera software that would load the driver - if possible by the OS), etc..

            So, yes, I think it's feasible..

  • Stephen Fronda

    This really needs to be a thing. I had this idea years ago. Never had the drive, or knowhow to accomplish it. I knew it was a matter of time before someone did it. I'm so excited to see this idea come to fruition.

  • fonix232

    Holy shitsnacks. It is actually coming, and sooner than later!

  • slyte

    I made a quick mockup logo and promotional banner/thing if anyone wants.

  • Justin Foster

    Just gave me a reason not to get the nexus 5

    • WHO?

      lmao You cant be serious? This will be at least 2 yrs down the pipes. I have a Note 3, but we will be on Nexus 7 or 8 before you see this.

      • odo

        We have been on Nexus 7 since last year.

        • Steve Freeman

          I think he was referring to future Nexus phone devices, not the Nexus 7 tablet.

      • Justin Foster

        And you know this how?

        I could see this happening mid to late next year

        • Ricardo Kummel

          You have my like, just because I'm waiting to this to be true by late next year like you.. :)

          • Justin Foster

            Haha thanks dude... Sadly, after carefully reading the Motorola blog, 2 years seems more likely. =(

  • drake vader

    somebody just patent the idea and kill the buzz, its getting too loud here!

  • csgabor

    Fucks sake, this still sounds impossible

  • GigiAUT

    All I'm saying is it's about time we had the freedom to choose what hardware we want in our phones. Just like PC's have been doing for years. Why do I need to pay for 4 cores when all I really want are 2 that I can afford paired with a nice display. This is exciting news! :D

  • Ark

    ...how are they held together? Don't GPUs and CPUs need to be engineered together? Hell, in the Moto X even the CPU and Battery interacted directly...can this even work?

    • h4rr4r

      GPU and CPU are on the same SoC. So you can't swap those apart.
      CPU and battery do not interact. CPU and battery controller do. The battery is just a LiOn cell.

  • trumpet444

    If this phone ever sees production, $100 says Verizon comes up with a BS excuse as to why they won't allow this phone on their network.

  • disqus_gvHzXAf4OJ

    Well if you like a smartphone thats 20mm thick maybe.
    Did anyone look at the pictures??? Camera module that thin?.....right....!
    All modules are this thin? Right......!
    This would break so fast!
    I think motorola just wants your attention

    • h4rr4r

      I think you mean 2cm. Which is not exactly that thick. Some of those zero lemon battery packs are thicker.

  • Random!

    The tiles seem to have a defined size. Makes much more sense than blocks with variable size. The only real advantage is you could upgrade just the camera, processor or storage if that's what you want. But I still don't see how batteries with different sizes could be done, besides growing them thicker than the rest of the pieces. Also, as phones with different screen sizes have different back areas, tiles would need to have different sizes, which would be weird.

    • h4rr4r

      Either thickness or more likely simply better battery chemistry. LiOn and LiPo have come a long way in just the last couple years. You could each year get a battery module the same size and expect a 10% or so increase in capacity.

  • mark

    Motorola need to be concentrating on things that have legs rather than nonsense like this that will.never fly

  • DarkJohn

    I liked the phonebloks idea. This could be a hit but, unlike the phonebloks, these have specific 'areas' for modules to switch, while phonebloks concept gave you more "freedom". but it's cool nonetheless. could also help the overpriced phones problem and make fixing your phone a lot easier. just upgrading switching the modules you want.

    • Thomas’

      Yeah, but phonebloks were a vision from some guys with no clue about technical implementations. Their way was possibly too difficult to realize.

  • Γεώργιος Χατζόπουλος

    whoever says battery is too small comparing to other phones he did not thought that the actual skeleton could have a battery inside and a block can be used to extend the mAhs of that battery...

  • Adrian Herman

    so is motorola on the google model: sandbox. motorola gets to develope dream projects that would have gotten some engineer fired for thinking these things in moto's previous incarnation. this is great.
    also, i have to say, and im sure im a little naive, but isn't this a little late( and to be sure it is not even on market yet). i've always thought that google phones are the PC's of the phone world, so if you follow this than why has it taken so long to turn these into tinker phones? of course the average person doesn't want to muck about with components, and it is easier to make sure everything works if the manufacturer sells it as a whole cake and not a sampler, it also forces the next sell, right? the purchaser cannot limit their economic exposure thru only having to purchase components, instead if you don't like the phone or have physical tech issues you have to purchase a complete new phone. rubbish. so i am happy to see this. with that said, it better have a solid back, module exposure is silly.

  • Spoony IV

    Why does this feel like a really bad idea.... "here we go sir, your new phone..." if you want to be able to call, charge, use bluetooth or wifi... you will have to pay more for them.

    give over!!

  • Jaime

    I just wanna be a part of this.

  • jaybee

    There wont be a uniform wear and tear as some parts will look newer than others when you start changing the blocks.

    • Kurt

      Then you put a case on it

  • Gator352

    What's funny is that Apple will see this then make it to where you can remove/replace the battery on the iPhone 6. They will tout it's a hardware revolution that's magical and the only thing you'll ever need.

    • Scott

      Of course. Would you expect anything less?

  • creator78

    Even if this happens don't expect Verizon to allow them on their network.

  • http://www.virtuaniz.com/ Akshat Mittal

    No idea what that is doing there.

    • Frekko

      cat eye scanner?

      • Jason

        Cat Scan?

    • Trina S

      Printer? Or they know the internet loves cats.

  • Nevi_me

    Thank you so much Motorola team. I was waiting this phone. It is really great user friendly and smooth.

  • David Margolin

    This all sounds nice and sweet but they are gonna need some serious software for this. Switching processors pretty much means a new build of android. Adding a new camera requires you change the build.prop among other things...

    • https://www.facebook.com/MusicalWolf Todd Wolf

      Unless KitKat introduces the framework for becoming a modular OS. A single kernel that boots all, or at least multiple, processors and doesn't require hard coded values in the build.prop for the required functionalities. What if Android is to become responsive to its hardware?

      • kenjab

        I doubt it would be in KitKat, because all signs are to that being another incremental update. But maybe this will be the major update to Android that will come with Android 5.x, whenever that will be.

      • h4rr4r

        Android really can't. Linux is what touches hardware and that can't either since ARM lacks anything like PCI. This means you can't probe the hardware to find out what it is on each boot. You would need a bootloader to do that somehow for you and have it load a kernel with the correct modules.

    • h4rr4r

      Forget all that. Without something like PCI there is no way to probe the hardware. This means the kernel can't even load the right modules, so all the Android problems are not even a concern when you can't bring up hardware.

    • Poopyhead

      Do you honestly think they haven't already thought of this?

  • Jadephyre

    Just one thing Ryan, can you update the tag "phoneblocs" to say "phonebloks"?
    I think that would be the name most people know it as ;)

  • Angeline Joseph

    It's a good idea to customize smartphones


  • Mark Smith

    I too dismissed the phoneblocks thing but this seems that it might actually be feasible, very interesting, going to watch this one closely!

    • someone755

      I only dismissed them because all media said that it was impossible and we should laugh at. Well, who's laughing now? (I'm crying of happiness! :D)

  • igorescu04

    It will be awesome... sell the frame with different size's and sell the parts individually.. great ... hope to succeed ....

  • Bronislav Shtrom


  • someone755

    No. 1: Bring this to Europe or I'm starting WW3.
    No. 2: Make the bootloader unlockable. Or I'm starting WW4.
    Yes, over a phone.

  • Rob Johnson

    "It turns out Motorola has been working on a similar project for the last year"

    Ofcourse they have Ryan, ofcourse they have.

    Atleast theyre working with the phonebloks guy. And yeah I'd buy this phone for the right price, its a cool idea and I might finally get a blue phone that way.

  • Michael Pahl

    Quick, head over to CM and ask for ETAs on a stable release.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker


  • h4rr4r

    How about instead of a better anything you let me pick parts with drivers in the mainline kernel?
    Forget open I want FOSS.

  • Chad

    Always a great sign to see innovation alive and well. I was really hype after hearing about the Phonebloks idea knowing it could be a very long while before we see anything like it but this is great news to wake up to.

  • Steve Williamson

    I can see the good old days of dropping your nokia phone and it smashing into 100 bits before you pick them up and clip the back together without a problem .. apart from the screen would still be smashed

  • Guest

    Looking at the first pic - I noticed this'll come in two sizes.

  • IAP

    It's the next generation of in-app purchases :D

  • Eric Jones

    I still think it's a bad idea. Phones are already fragile enough as they are. Add in a bunch of different modules with various connections to get dirty and break, and it will be even worse. It will make the phone look funny, be bulkier, less energy efficient, and will give most people no advantage. Most people upgrading don't just want a new camera, they also want a new processor, more ram, more internal storage, a better screen, a bigger/better battery and they want it all in a sleek new package. Phones are already reaching a top end. How much higher resolution screen do you want? How many more cores, ram, internal storage, etc? What amazing new hardware feature can they add to phones? There are really only two big areas where high end phones (which will be next years budget phones) can improve, battery life and cameras.

    Plus, we all know how the carriers and manufacturers will handle this. Want that new Leica camera module? It's an ATT exclusive, purchasable only with a new two year agreement! If you want it somewhere else, you can do it, but you'll have to write your own drivers! Does anyone really think that hardware upgrades will work, when we can't even consistently get software updates? Three posts up from this one on Android Police is a post about Verizon not getting the 4.3 update on the HTC One, even though the hardware between all the versions is nearly identical.

    • arudei

      remember, anything is possible. if you BELIEVE in yourself and stop taking bullsh*t from other crappy hater's comments.

      • Eric Jones

        I'm not sure what you mean.

    • Eric Jones

      I forgot to mention, that the biggest issue with phones right now is the huge profit margins, and the carriers.

  • ern0

    My tip: it will be success until the number of N:M combinations grows up to 10^24 and only 10% of them will be valid because of part-to-part compatibility. Also, Samsung will ship complete phones at a price of a memory expansion block. Users will cry at Motorola to make 8 Megapixel camera, not only 3 and 5. It will be a logistics nightmare.

  • Gustavo Parrado

    Isn't precisely this, what guy kawasaki was talking about when he just got hired by Motorola?

  • Barry

    At last some real innovation and something that I hope we'll hear more of in time. I hope they get it right and don't release something have assed into the market (slight dig at samsung's galaxy gear there, couldn't resist). But if they manage to pull it off it will be interesting to see how Apple respond.

  • dropping in

    Android has everything but consistently finished products. I'm glad the Moto X is a sign of Android getting its sh*t together. Modular phones(rolls eyes)

  • didibus

    I'm not convinced modular designs is what consumers want. Laptops have progressively moved from modular to less and less modular. It seems consumers want work of arts, highly esthetic casing, with the lightest and thinnest and smallest footprint possible. Modularity comes with added bulk, I don't know if people are willing to go through this sacrifice. I'll have to wait and see.

    • dropping in

      How dare you use common sense, and show how out of touch some of these ideas are.

    • The_Chlero

      Consumers want what the industry dictates. Such as the fashion industry is guided by the top tier fashion designers not by what consumers wants.

      In this sense, if the industry see a focus on modular gadgets I bet this will be the next big thing.

      Some years ago, the trend was making the mobile phones more smallers, thinners and with smaller screens. Now the trend is to make bigger screens.

      Consumers adopt what industry dictates, not other way around.

      • didibus

        You'd have to make a better backed up claim than that to convince me. My argument is basically that people see smartphones as fashion, therefore, they want highly styled cases and good looking phones, not useful and long lasting functionality.

        • The_Chlero

          I get your point. But nobody said that those modular smartphone are going to be ugly. If you compare the first mobile phone those were practically a plastic brick.

          Now the tendency is to more styled, good-looking forms. In the very same way, those modular phone are not going to be ugly or bulky as you said. The tendency is dictated and the manufacturers must follow those guidelines in order to sell the product.

          Have a little faith because I have a lot of faith in this project. I dont want to buy a new phone just because my internal non-replaceable battery died or my radio module died

          • didibus

            I have faith they will make it happen, not sure about it catching on. I love the idea at first glance, and then I realize I get bored with my phone after 6 months and already start craving the announcements for newer more badass phones.

            I wonder, is what I'm craving a simple RAM upgrade? I don't think so, I think I crave a completely new phone. I want every component to be upgraded and the design to have changed and maybe the size also, and hopefully the OS itself. I might also want a crazy new innovative idea, like new sensors or a curved screen, or who knows what.

            I think the Ara will be more of a "customize your specs" kind of phone, than a "you won't need to ever buy a phone again, just upgrade components" one. This is how most PC building works today, you can pick your pieces and put them together, but once you did, you'll barely if ever upgrade them. You'll just build yourself a completely new PC a couple years later. In that way, I see Ara being awesome.

          • The_Chlero

            Well, in that case you have a very consumerist approach, changing phone every 6, 12 or 18 months is a privilege not many can have. many people, specially US, the geeky visiting these sites, know very well that a component is not necessarily "old" or "deprecated" just because a newer one is released.

            The best example come to my mind is the "camera upgrade" fever in modern smartphones, where most of the upgrade goes in the vain of adding more MPx to the camera, everything else is just barely improved and is just the "normal" upgrade year over year. Clear example is how the Galaxy series is managed: Galaxy S2 is barely improved in Galaxy S3 (just 2 more cores to the processor), as well as Galaxy S3 is just a minor improvement on S4 (octa core? Just 4 are used at a time.)

            Many of the features are software related and can be achieved easily in two years old phone. In fact firmly think that more than 2 cores are enough to have a fine user experience in modern mobile OS.

            The most important thing to have is RAM, which is used by the apps and as more newer and complex apps become, more RAM is needed, but processor power not so much, only if you care to open Facebook or Candy Crush in 0.0002 seconds faster than your old phone.

            All in all, lets see how this plays out and hope for this to be a great project with thousands of implications.

      • Robb Nunya

        The industry dictates? Hah! You've got that backwards. The people were hungry for a bigger screen, so when the EVO hit, it made HTC a ton of money. It sold, so everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. The use-case for smaller dumb phones is different than smartphones, and HTC was the first to capitalize on that.

  • Jose M Gonzalez

    http://tinyurl.com/mfn868z this is freaking amazing!

  • Cesar

    I signed up for the phonebloks thunerclap, but in my head I knew the idea was probably never going to fly. This is actually very, very exciting news!

  • beboo

    what about the Software ?

  • bobbutts

    GREAT MOTHERFUCKING HEADLINE!!! I fucking love god damn swearing. Only pussy cunts don't fucking swear in their articles.

    • Justin Howell

      If you actually knew how to swear correctly, you might have made a point there.

      • bobbutts

        The floor is yours, asshole. Let's see how it's done.

        • Justin Howell


          • AdalynLeigh

            Well played.

  • etche

    So now not only should we be scared that someone stole your phone... You leave it for 5 minutes on a table and when you look back someone stole your camera module and left his microusb port instead. Nice.

    • lycan codex

      Lol.....your comment made my day!

  • Chris Banks

    when you drop it...

  • DaBlaSit

    I don't know, even if a huge company is making it, the thought of having multiple companies make the modules doesn't sound feasible. Read this excellent article on why this idea is not as simple to make a profitable reality: http://www.popsci.com/article/gadgets/why-lego-style-phonebloks-concept-will-fall-apart

  • Daoyi Liu

    I never laughed at Phonebloks. I signed the petition thingy and shared it on Facebook. Does that mean i get cookies now?

  • Jei

    Although I like both concepts and always thought something like this
    will come eventually, I prefer phonebloks engineering idea better.

    Motorola probably can pull this off but its system as presented is only allow
    for "exchanging" parts, which is not a bad proposal per se.

    Furthermore from reading, motorola allows you to swap the "apps processor" not the
    main CPU it seems they will keep the core SoC as part of as the main
    integral part (endoskeleton), thus in order to replace that part you
    will need a whole new frame. which i think is a little difference from
    phonebloks (from what I understood back in the day). As such technically
    you could not replace your battery for a bigger battery (physical size) but hopefully a battery with same size and bigger capacity will be developed soon :)

    Phonebloks on the other hand allows for actual modularity, which seems more usable
    albeit a bigger engineering problem the SoC is one of the modules that
    can be swapped, then connection block is simply their bus. Clearly an
    advanced bus scheme is necessary for this to work proper and for proper
    recognition of devices and proper routing of signal, and other
    architectural issues will need to be considered.

    Like i said both present an interesting idea, but if it was up to me i will lean towards
    phoneblok design. Clearly none of us know exactly what is begin done. I
    think Motorola's system is far more easy to develop and bring to the

    • lycan codex

      Apps processor or the application processor is the actual SoC.

      • Jei

        although i would tend to agree, that is not necessarily true with multi-core and specialized cores, in some cases the SoC works as a task manager or load manager, clearly everything is dependent on architecture, but maybe you are correct, however just looking at the Motorola frame it seems they are keeping their main processing power within the endoskeleton and auxiliary processor being able to be swapped, i am not saying that is bad it could prove to be very clever.

        • lycan codex

          Yeah. These days these multicore or specialized processors are all built in in a single SoC as in the case of Qualcomn. Lets see. interesting days ahead!

    • Robb Nunya

      I agree... the locking cam design > than the slide-in module design. Dropping the latter could result in some comedic scrambling for all of your phone's parts.

  • wills96

    So they can do this but can't make their current phones with swappable batteries?

  • Bobby Wright

    I love the design of the concept phones! They look truly unique. If they can pull this design off, I will be in for one if/when they release. Motorola!

  • Franklin Ramsey

    Moto Nexus??!?!?

    • http://www.facebook.com/VEllisWade V. Ellis Wade

      Nexus X?

  • Brad Kalinoski

    I love the header. [ HOLY SHIT]...
    This is something I would of never expected to work or have anyone interested in since so much money is made of throwing out a new cell phone every one or two years. Im on board with this. No pun intended.

  • pk

    This is one phone i will definitely buy...

  • tony

    so the ripped it off phonebloks?

    • Robb Nunya

      No, they're working with Phonebloks.

  • NegLewis

    This is a 9+ months idea stolen from wmpoweruser/Engadget/TheVerge: http://wmpoweruser.com/nokias-3d-printed-lumia-820-case-design-adapted-for-the-makerbot-printed-out/
    THIS should NOT be patented. Just build it as an open project. Non Patent-able.

    NegLewis • 9 months ago −
    I HOPE this is the first step to a true modular phone.
    Take the Radio "black ceramic brick", then CPU/GPU, then motherboard, then Display ... and a Case (3D Printed) and you've got a phone. Put a SIM and a SD card and drivers + OS and you have a SmartPhone.

    Imagine what form factors this could have - with SmartGlasses Technologies around the corner.

  • Falconator

    Okay Moto...you have my attention!

  • Matt Mendoza

    I just don't understand why a phone company would want to make a phone that allows itself to be upgraded rather then replaced every few years. Seems a bit counter productive for them doesn't it?

    • Robb Nunya

      Not when they can make money selling "parts" for years. You really have your audience locked in if they keep upgrading their stuff instead of possibly moving over to another manufacturer.

  • Wiki-Truths

    Awesome - now address privacy.

  • Ara Jordan

    I am so incredibly uncomfortable that this is called Project Ara. Seriously, this is freaking me the fuck out.

    • Robb Nunya

      Well, the full name is "Project Ara Jordan", but they didn't want to REALLY freak you out... :D

  • riyazphatan

    Samsung galaxy s4

  • Tom Bryant

    Great!!! I would love to see faces of police officers when you take this phone to make a call on the airport。lenteen.de