Google's Project Ara modular phone could cost just £30

Google has spilled the beans on its modular mobile project, including how much it'll cost, how thick the device will be, and when it'll be out.

If you're wondering what has happened to Google's Project Ara modular mobile project, seeing as Google is selling Motorola to Lenovo, there's no need to worry. Google has held onto Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group which was the home of Project Ara. And the latest news is that Google intends to start selling the modular smart phone next year for just £30.

Time has had a good long chat with the team behind Project Ara, and reports that the basic device will cost $50, or about £30 in the Queen's currency. The catch? It'll be Wi-Fi-only, so you won't actually be able to make calls with it. I have to say, that's quite some catch. But then you pays yer money, you takes yer chances.

That's just for the basic unit though. Google -- and third-parties -- hope to sell you a host of add-ons so you can build the phone you want. Don't take many photos? Don't bother with a camera module, just get a better battery. The team was less forthcoming on how much each of these modules will cost. But the low price of the basic device could mean it's big in emerging markets.

Google will make three sizes of Ara device: mini, medium, and jumbo. I'd wager that mini will be around the size of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, with jumbo being phablet-size. This is the one part you won't be able to customise, as Google is said to make them all, with no third-parties involved. So choose your size wisely.

Project Ara will fall under the umbrella of Google's Android. Whether it'll run that OS or not, we'll have to wait and see.

We've also got an idea of the size of the devices. Google says they won't be thicker than 10mm, which is fatter than the slimmest smarties around right now, but not by a huge amount.

If you want to remove a module, you'll have to disengage it through an app on the phone. They shouldn't just fall off if you drop your phone on the floor.

Google is also working with 3D Systems to allow us punters to customise the size and shape of the handsets' enclosures. And you might even be able to swap these enclosure between devices as well.

So when can we get our hands on these build-it-yourself blowers? Google should have a working prototype in the next few weeks, and they should be ready for shop shelves in just over a year. What do you think of the project? Is it the future of phones, or just a gimmick? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.

     

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