The LG G5 has them. Google’s first consumer phone will have them. The iPhone has some, thanks to this butt-ugly case. And now, it would appear that Motorola’s upcoming smartphone will have modules. But don’t let the trends deceive you: modular smartphones are not here to stay.

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According to ever-reliable mobile leaker Evan Blass, Motorola’s next handset will come with three “MotoMods,” which is brand-speak for cases that do things. The cases will reportedly feature a projector, speakers, and a fancy Hasselblad camera.

On the surface, these kinds of “modules” seem to make sense — people sometimes want a better camera (or, apparently the ability to put a crappy projection on a wall), and these cases give them that functionality when they need it.

https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/735862741127155713

But I don’t buy into the module idea, and I suspect the vast majority of people don’t either. Pricing hasn’t been revealed for the Hasselblad-branded camera module, but you can expect it to be a couple hundred dollars. Smartphones are already heinously expensive to buy every two years, and I can’t see consumers sinking hundreds of dollars into mods, which are going to become outdated and useless in two years’ time when they upgrade to a different smartphone.

It’s not just the cost, either. People who want a really good camera will just get a phone with a kick-ass camera to begin with. If that’s not enough camera — and remember, smartphone cameras are already insanely good these days — then chances are you need a mirrorless camera or a DSLR, not an overpriced branded add-on.

It’s the same story with pretty much everything else. Why buy a chunky speaker module, when you could spend $50 on a Bluetooth speaker that will absolutely be better? Modules provide a marginal bump in performance, but they’re expensive, only work with one device, and are normally outclassed by buying a standalone camera, speaker, or projector.

On the surface, Google’s Project Ara looks like it could be the difference. With Ara, you’re not sticking on attachments if you feel like it — modules are a fairly critical part of the phone’s construction, so you’re not adding extra bulk by trading out a big speaker for an extra battery.

But even there, things aren’t perfect. In order for the phone to be modular, it has to be thick and unattractive. We’ve spent a decade getting accustomed to smartphones as sleek devices crafted from steel and glass, and most people don’t want to go back to something the size of a deck of cards, made from plastic.

Modules aren’t being driven by consumers wanting more features from their phones. It’s Motorola, LG and Google trying to differentiate their devices from a sea of black rectangles. That’s a good goal — smartphones have been standing still for the last few years — but modules aren’t going to be the way to do it. Now, if I could just have my interchangeable batteries back, all will be well in the world.

Chris Mills has loved tinkering with technology ever since he worked out how to defeat the parental controls on his parents' internet. He's blogged his way through Apple events and SpaceX launches ever since, and still keeps a bizarre fondness for the Palm Pre.