Why Have Modular Smartphones Failed?

Why Have Modular Smartphones Failed?

What do Project ARA, LG G5, Moto Z and Fairphone have in common? None of them were very successful. Why? – The Story …


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About the Author: TechAltar


  1. The main original idea of #phoneblocks was to safe waste. There is no serious political will all over the world to support these aspects. It's left to a minority of caring users, that do not want to fuck up the planet.

  2. It did not fail.. lack of interest from people who only had not understanding of the smartphone revolution..

    Will return with solar tech becoming modular and more power effective!

  3. phones have gotten so good that companies wont be making much money on them into the future, my note9 died due to a screen crack so I'm using my friends S8 because they upgraded with a plan, everything I just said there is precisely why the phone market is dying. Modular, open source frameworks to build phones off of begins when a company decides to go open source and entirely focused on creating something similar to custom PC's, but in your hand. We mastered the PC race, we now have a clear idea of what a gaming PC is, we're now focused on durability and reliability of individual components, not entire all in one PC's like phones are.

  4. You need a standard framework, which in 2021, we're already at the peak of knowing what we want for a phone, the second part of framework is that everything, I mean, everything is modular and capable of swapping displays, where the framework is entirely open source. No company will begin with this because it kills the entire phone market and every company would go against their own profits.

  5. The problem is similar to when iPhone launched, people don't know they want modular phones until they have it, and that means nobody cares until a big company actually releases it, same thing with CD and Headphone Jack

  6. Because of shitty integration, build quality, and weight.

    Nobody cares about a upgradeable phone.

    People resale their phones so it’s hardly going to the landfill.

    Modular electronics is highly overrated

  7. it's 2021, modular laptops are making a stand. How about the modular phone? any news? i mean i'm tired of my iphone receiving kill code updates and becoming sluggish after 2 years

  8. It's great to be able to go back in history to watch what went wrong and why. Seems pretty obvious now but like with so much in tech innovation the shiniest new toy gets all the attention. For 5 minutes. Not much lasts.

  9. Because they did it wrong – opening your phone is expected if you want to replace stuff. You know, with a screwdriver. Because micro-LGA is HARD to design. Because developing a STANDARD for components along with VALIDATION TOOLS is HARD. Because people may LAUGH at your POORLY WRITTEN FIRMWARE when you opensource it. Much easier to lock everything down, hardcode SN in EEPROM, resin underfill every chip and hotglue the dumpster fire of a phone, out of sight and out of mind. Because why do the HARD problems when you can open a cold one early.

  10. A great modular idea: external camera hardware that attaches to use the phone's processing power that is never existing in standalone cameras. Then you get the smart new photo processing of phones with the amazing lens of a camera. The camera is less expensive since it has no onboard processor.

  11. I just want the things that are perfectly possible to exist. I want a replaceble batery, headphone jack. And I want to have full control of the software in it, being able to remove all of google's spyware.

  12. This is really racking my brain. Obviously, modular phones are bad for the company making them because releasing a “new” phone every year is SUBSTANTIALLY more lucrative than selling new modules. So reason number 1 modular phones failed is capitalism.

    Reason number 2 is that according to the companies, people don’t care about modular. People won’t even change their backgrounds, let alone components of their phone.

    However, Phonebloks allegedly received a substantial amount of crowdfunding. If people don’t care about modular smartphones, why would they give money to support them?

    Furthermore, I don’t understand how consumers don’t like the idea of modular phones. When the video mentioned what the Project Ara head engineer said about the users in their studies not caring about modularity, I had to pause the video because I was filled with disbelief. I couldn’t wrap my head around people NOT caring about modularity.

    There is a lot more to modularity than customizing your kit, or upgrading your camera, as mentioned in the video. To me, everything else makes sense. Repairing a broken component is much cheaper than replacing the whole phone. You are given the option to actually upgrade your phone not just replace it. And ,although most people probably don’t care, you can mix and match modules to create a phone that specifically meets your needs i.e. better camera, bigger battery, more storage, faster processor, etc.

    When I think about modular one in particular comes to mind: my old iPhone 7. It was, and still is, by far my favorite phone. Granted, it was getting a little slow, and the battery life was less than optimal, but I’l make that a point later.

    I was watching some videos on it one day when it just blacked out. I could still hear the video, i could pull up Siri, and initiate phone calls (again with Siri), but the screen was entirely unresponsive. I took it the Apple store, they ran diagnostics, and they refused to fix the phone or replace the screen. They said I needed a new phone. Not only did I not believe that I needed a new phone, I didn’t want one.

    Although I am grateful I was able to get an objectively better phone (iPhone XR), imagine if the phone were modular. Not only would I have just been able to replace the screen and once again utilize the display, I could have replaced the battery and recoup or better yet surpass my phone’s original battery life. Even more exciting, I could have replaced the CPU module with a newer, faster one and get my beloved phone back up to speed.

    To conclude this VERY long comment, I don’t understand the lack of public appeal for modular phones, as I see many reasons to think then superior, and I firmly believe we would overcome the engineering challenges that come with them.

    tl:dr: why don’t people like modular phones? I want my iPhone7 back

  13. I remember when i use my samsung s5 phone i would just take the battery out everytime school ask to check on student's phone. They cannot check the phone if it cannot be turned on

  14. The only reason I was really looking for Project Ara to succeed as a modular smartphone is for the future poroofing! I'm tired of needing to upgrade my whole phone just because of a single component that I priotize. But considering that core components like display, processor and ram cannot be upgraded I don't see any interest now. If that changes yes surely!

  15. I think the issue with crowd testing is that people don't know what they want. And people will never choose change. I see this all the time at Apple. There are many occasions where and iPhone is not the best option for them. Whether it's price, size or usability. And they get stuck with whatever apple had made that year. Yet if they used some of their own intelligence and took some time they would find so much freedom and better use cases with Android. But everything they will say 'this is what I know' when in reality most OS's are pretty similar nowadays. Consumers are far from always right and they don't know what I'd best for them. So havint a study show people wouldn't want or need modular phones proves very little until it's given a real change. Yes it's not been handled right yet but could you imagine the amount of waste that would be saved in just swapping a battery or camera or CPU when it gets old. We talk about saving the planet and these are real world possibilities to help with that

  16. So tldr, consumers are too stupid to want the best for them and capitalism only cares about profit so we've read a non-optimal valley where profits are maximised for the company owners.

  17. So, it seems that my newfound enterprise is doomed to start? I hope my Phoenix Phone rockets and modularity becomes mainstream in the states 😀

  18. They we not a fail. For sure. The idea came out from a kickstarter. Google bought It and changed int ara in order to make it disappear and avoid the idea to be a true alternative on the market. They want to sell you one model every 3 months, they do not want your smartphone last over time.

  19. I didn't know this idea was done years ago. And apparently it's a failure!? Wtf I thought this was cool idea and more user-friendly. I want the future phones to be swappable but knowing it's already a failure, I doubt any big company would make something like this again. Since making fixed phones made more profits. Ever since we can't remove the back battery I already hate where we heading to…

  20. Benefits:
    cost saving

    so, why have they failed?
    "you can already do what with accessoiries"
    yeah, no shit but they are so flipping huge and I don't wanna carry huh-duh-600's, a powerbank (plus cables) and an external
    camera case with me
    "smartphones have to be more compact and even modulars don't let you change GPU's or CPU's"
    oh nice I love my phone that's just 3 components. god dangit there are other things you can swap, not just these.
    "customizing isn't the most important thing"
    I agree, but that doesn't take any space at all, neither is it a reason to not sell modular phones…
    (HE SKIPPED "cost saving" -.-)
    "few people will pay more for repairability"
    bro you skipped "cost saving" because there is nothing to say against it. And a repair at your manufactorer will cost more than
    the 20 bucks you pay for repairability


  21. the truth is that Modular smartphones mean off from big tech off from big corporate off from control … But soon they will come back for safe us

  22. Magsafe could be Apples approach to Modularity, because Data could be broadcasted through this spule of wire too.

  23. Not all the users are just okay with whatever it is already there in the phone, it is just a gentleman excuse instead of pointing finger towards the greedy mobile phone manufacturers as the only reason for the failure of an amazing concept.
    May be Elon Musk needs to do something about this!

  24. The only way small modular devices will be mainstream is if smartphones and PC will just be connecting a phone to a connector with modular parts.

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