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Here’s why the Phonebloks modular smartphone might not happen

Published Sep 17th, 2013 5:15PM EDT
Phonebloks Viability Questioned

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Last week’s most surprising phone announcement wasn’t anything from Apple, but rather a modular smartphone called Phonebloks. The idea of an upgradeable, customizable smartphone is an exciting one, but the revolutionary concept might not hold water. George Hahn at Generic Maker analyzed the phone over the weekend, and came to the conclusion that Phonebloks probably wouldn’t work.

The issues, as Hahn sees them are physics, communication, and interoperability. Because of the high speed that data travels in a modern smartphone, the parts all need to be extremely close together. By separating each individual component, it would not be possible to make sure the smartphone could run at the same speed as any given Android or iOS device. The assumption that parts could be placed anywhere on the base is also potentially misleading, as each component needs to be connected to its own specific processor pins.

The cost of making Phonebloks even close to viable is also far more than its creator likely anticipates.

“The amount of effort in testing and debugging that would be required to ensure the compatibility of each component would be absolutely enormous,” writes Hahn.

Hahn does praise the modular concept overall, however, and he agrees with the creator’s belief that there is far too much electronic waste. But he contends that the technology to make Phonebloks possible, especially for a reasonable price, just doesn’t exist yet.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.