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View Poll Results: Would you buy an Modular Smartphone ?
Yes 13 86.67%
No 1 6.67%
Maybe 1 6.67%
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Old 11-10-13   #1
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Icon2 Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?


Some folks over at Phonebloks have come up with the idea of an modular smarphone. Basically the idea is that you should be able to buy individual parts of a smartphone and assemble your own smartphone just like you can assemble a desktop computer. Such a smartphone will give the ability for people to customise the phone according to their needs and budget besides reducing e-waste.

Even if this were to be technically feasible, I wonder how many people would like to buy such a phone. Most people dont know enough to make their own smartphone and prefer branded ready to use products. I think its unlikely that project will see the light of day but lets see how it goes.


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Old 11-10-13   #2
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

This is a brilliant concept. I always wondered when such kind of phone would go mainstream.
Would totally buy it. I mean it would be so cool to be able to customise and upgrade your own phone. Like I can totally do without a camera, so I can save money there
And this looks so cool..
I hope this works..
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Old 11-10-13   #3
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

A very Interesting idea. Let's hope they get enough partners to raise the project further.
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Old 12-10-13   #4
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

The idea for assembled laptops would have taken off before this. However, with system-on-chip architectures gaining momentum in the information technology world, this Phonebloks concept just might work out.

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Old 12-10-13   #5
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

This will not work. While this looks good on paper, there are some major caveats to consider:

1. Cost will go sky high with all those custom components.
2. Electronic connections between different blocks will seriously hamper the speed. Plug-and-play bandwidth isn't as much as soldered-onto-PCB-grade bandwidths.
3. Major compatibility issues with upgrades. The newer components might not be backwards compatible and might employ a faster interconnect, turning the older versions pretty much useless. Plus to make sure every block works with all available permutations and combinations will require a hefty amount into research and developing drivers etc which will eventually jack the prices up.

Marcus a.k.a MKBHD explains it well here -

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Old 12-10-13   #6
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

Originally Posted by ChironX View Post
1. Cost will go sky high with all those custom components.
I dont deny there are major problems with the concept Chironx but I dont agree with the idea that the cost of components would be necessarily more. Infact it could cost a lot less if the blocks are being mass produces without branding and other frills. Even now you can buy a lot of the phone components quite cheaply.

Originally Posted by ChironX View Post
2. Electronic connections between different blocks will seriously hamper the speed. Plug-and-play bandwidth isn't as much as soldered-onto-PCB-grade bandwidths.
I'm not so sure about that. Could you please explain, give some sources for your conclusion.
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Old 12-10-13   #7
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

@ChironX agree with the facts here but this is just an IDEA. There is no prototype or anything. The actual product might not even look like the one in the video
We just talking about an idea here.
Originally Posted by ChironX ♦ View Post
Plus to make sure every block works with all available permutations and combinations will require a hefty amount into research and developing drivers etc which will eventually jack the prices up.
If someone wants to upgrade his processor he can just replace it with a new processor block right? No need throw away all the other blocks. That saves money. You know it costs only 240$ to build Note3 but it's sold for 700$. The components are cheap.
But again compatibility could be the issue. I hope this works out somehow. At least before I'm dead.
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Old 12-10-13   #8
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

When some companies are doing away with removable batteries and even microsd cards to mint money with accessories and "features", this is appreciated but unlikely to succeed.
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Old 12-10-13   #9
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

Originally Posted by vijayninel View Post
I'm not so sure about that. Could you please explain, give some sources for your conclusion.
Phonebloks viability questioned: price, connectivity, physics in doubt | BGR
Phonebloks - A Customizable Smartphone That Could Revolutionize The Industry - Forbes
How Phonebloks Could Work (and Why It Probably Won't) - Tested


"It's a physics issue. Signals in modern devices are extremely high speed; the easiest and cheapest way to combat this is to bring components closer together. For example, the wireless radios, RAM, and processor in all modern phones exist as one chip. They essentially put the CPU and wireless magic on the same silicon die (or on a separate die in the same package) and pop a RAM chip on top ("Package on Package").

It's a communication issue. All of the ICs in a phone don't communicate over a single bus - almost every one ties directly into specific processor pins. This would restrict block size and placement.

If we aim a little lower and try for a modular design, the interconnects needed to ensure signal integrity at high speed are still very expensive. This project would require serious economies of scale to succeed. Each high speed component - CPU, RAM, storage, modem - would need an expensive socket.

Technically, the storage could be put on a socket pretty easily. It's not fast enough to warrant a very expensive socket, but would still add ~$2-5 to the final design. (Keep in mind, that means the consumer would be paying $4-20 extra, just to have the option to upgrade the storage.)

It's an interoperability issue. Going a little further, even if the device could be built in some fashion - there isn't much standardization in this area. I've spent days wrestling with a display peripheral on a processor to get it to interface with a specific display or video input IC - and that's with the benefit of thousands of pages of documentation, a field application engineer on call, and a ~$15000 oscilloscope. The amount of effort in testing and debugging that would be required to ensure the compatibility of each component would be absolutely enormous."
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Old 12-10-13   #10
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

Love the concept, although surely in the cradle right now.
I hope it becomes practically possible, If not now then maybe a few years down the time-stream.
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Old 12-10-13   #11
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

I don't see the utility of such a phone in today's age of cheap all-features-in-one devices. Other than enthusiasts, who comprise maybe one percent of all mobile phone users in the world, who would want to assemble their own phone?

For the rest of the users, if one component of their mobile phone goes kaput, they can just get that part professionally replaced. This will allow them to save on costs as well as reduce environmental pollution.

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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

hope this goes mainstream
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Old 12-10-13   #13
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

I don't think there is a market for these !!
Hell majority of people who are programmers and IT guys, have fear of upgrading their PC's which they have been using for many years !!
SO this succeeding in Phones is a far fetched idea !!

One more thing..
What would I do with the old parts ??
Why would I not have a new look or changed eco system when I thnk of upgrading. ?
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Old 15-10-13   #14
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

Originally Posted by ManISinJpr View Post

One more thing..
What would I do with the old parts ??
You could sell it to others. Like ebay, erodov, etc.
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Old 17-10-13   #15
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Re: Phonebloks - is a Modular Smartphone Feasible?

Very interesting idea.
It would be better to buy a phone customised according to your requirement so that you can drop the features which you never use (but paid for them when you buy a branded phone)
In this you could save money and only pay for what you want to get in your phone.
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