Here’s a sneak preview of some potential designs for Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone

Callum Tennent
April 16, 2014

We all know about the concept behind Google’s Project Ara, and the potential modular smartphone revolution: buy a bare-bones smartphone, then add in components as fancy or as basic as you like to tailor the device to your needs and budget. It’s a terrific idea, and one which a lot of people are rightly getting excited about. But there’s one overriding factor which can often determine a smartphone’s success far more than any internal-gadgetry – its looks.

Yep, ours is a shallow society, and that skin-deep level of vanity its projected on to our electronics, too. So it only makes sense that Google has finally released some images showing off just what exactly Project Ara could look like. Of course its worth remembering that these images are extremely, extremely preliminary (Google stated that a realistic retail date for the phone’s first iteration would be winter 2015), but its still nice to know that they’re not letting looks fall by the wayside.

Speaking at Google’s Project Ara developer’s conference yesterday, big cheese Paul Eremenko stated that the most basic model ($50 to developers, with no price specified for the consumer) will be a generic gray. ‘Drab’ was the word he used to describe it, so as to encourage owners to go out and customise the phone themselves and really get creative.

Google is doing everything it can to support this proposed creativity, too. The ‘Ara Configurator’ will offer an unlimited range of designs and colour schemes to make each device look as unique as the technical setup it houses. For example you can import a photo into the Configurator and it will generate a colour palette based on the general hue of the image. You can even choose from a variety of 3D printed textures, so that specific modules have a certain feel to them.

Combine this visual variety with technological versatility and Eremenko claims you’ll have a smartphone which may only merit replacing once every five or six years as opposed to every two.

What do you think? Would you buy a modular smartphone, or do you reckon that such a device could never rival the power and polish of a conventional flagship device?

About the Author

Callum Tennent

International playboy/tech journalist.

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