Phonebloks is a Lego-like phone that lasts forever

A new concept mobile aims to do away with upgrades by having swappable modules that keep your phone up to date.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
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.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

If you're getting a little tired of having to replace your mobile every time it breaks, this could be the concept for you. It's called Phonebloks, and is a phone that you build yourself, like Lego. This means you can swap out any parts that have stopped working, effectively meaning it'll last forever.

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens got the idea six months ago when he took apart his favourite camera. "I noticed all these little parts," he told the BBC. "And everything was good except for the lens motor. That had broken." He contacted the manufacturer and was told he'd need a new camera. Which seemed a bit of a waste to him. As he puts it: "With your bike you repair the tyre, you don't throw the bike away. But for some reason this is what we do with electronics."

Phonebloks is very much in the concept stage at the moment. But it's garnered plenty of interest online, with just shy of a million people signing up to support it. The idea is for a mobile with a replaceable screen and changeable blocks, each with a different function, so battery, processor, gyroscope, etc. Not only would this let you replace broken parts, you could also add new components as innovations are made and new blocks released.

You could also personalise your mobile as you see fit. Store everything in the cloud? Ditch the storage block for a better battery. Love to take pictures? Beef up the camera.

The downside is the mobile will likely be bulkier than today's svelte models to incorporate the blocks. It's also not likely to look as sexy as a finished product from a manufacturer.

But with more people being ethically aware, and belts being tightened more than ever before, maybe there is space for a new type of mobile. Previous attempts at a modular phone have sunk without trace, but that's not to say the idea can't thrive.

What do you reckon? Would you buy one? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.