The concept of modular phone appeared first in the kickstarter project called Phonebloks and it was followed by Motorola’s recent announcement that it was partnering with 3D Systems on “Project Ara” to bring their own modular smartphone. Looks like Motorola is about to face some competition from the Chinese smartphone giant “Xiaomi” working on a similar modular device under the “Magic Cube” project. Also read: Hugo Barra leaves Google for Xiaomi.
With a modular phone in hand users could disassemble and replace/upgrade any part of the device. For example- if you wanted to upgrade your camera, you could simply take out the camera from the phone’s socket and then replace it with a better camera.
An image appeared in China’s popular social media, Weibo, which showed a Xiaomi phone with swappable parts. The Weibo account belonged to none other than the CEO of Xiaomi, Mr. Lei jun. In the image, you can see that there are mainly three swappable parts (the camera, main board and battery) at the back of the device.
Compared to Magic cube (left), Project Ara (right) seems to offer higher level of customization with higher number of replaceable/swappable parts. However, there has been no official confirmation regarding the “Magic Cube” project or whether there are only three customizable parts as shown in the leaked image. We have to wait and see whether it is really a major project underway or just a starting concept.
Also check out this video on Phonebloks and Motorola’s Project Ara