The team behind Google’s Project Ara effort to build a modular smartphone design recently announced plans to scrap the upcoming Puerto Rico market pilot and launch a new pilot in a different location in 2016.

Now the team is providing at least one of the reasons for the delay. Apparently the technology that held modules to the phone wasn’t good enough to withstand a drop test.

Update: Apparently the bit about the drop test was a joke… but there is a new design on the way… as well as camera and battery life improvements. e

ara modules

Basically, if the phone falls out of your hands and hits the floor, the camera, battery, and other modules could fly apart.

The original plan for Project Ara phones had been to use electro-permanent magnets to hold modules to the endoskeleton/frame. This was a nifty solution, since the magnets don’t require any power to hold modules in place, but they can be turned on or off electronically, making it easy to swap out one module for another.

But apparently the system wasn’t strong enough for real-world usage.

Now the Project Ara team is testing a new method for attaching and detaching modules. The team says it also wants “to give users more space for more modules,” so more functionality will be included on a core module.

That means you’ll likely have more slots for batteries, cameras, speakers, wireless chips, or other optional components. But it also may mean that the core modules will be more expensive, since they may have more of the guts of a phone (perhaps grouping together the processor, memory, and storage, for example).

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4 replies on “Project Ara is getting a new design”

  1. What about a perimeter band to keep everything secure? Or would that defeat the purpose of the modularity.

  2. I like this technology, it seems really adaptable.

    Maybe next generation the phone will just do everything and be thinner+cheaper and made out of higher quality materials. Oh wait, we already have that…

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