Google’s long-awaited modular Project Ara smartphone, announced in 2013 and later postponed, will be available to developers this fall and to consumers sometime in 2017, the company announced.
It will come with six slots to add six modules to let consumers mix and match features.
In a major design shift, the customizable phone will no longer be positioned as a future-proof phone that lets consumers upgrade such core features as the processor and cellular radio. Instead, Google will embed the processor and radio and will let users choose only such hardware features as cameras, speakers, add-on batteries, and third-party modules offering niche features that wouldn’t normally be found on highvolume phones, including glucose meters, pico projectors, wireless car key fobs for keyless car starting, and the like.
The company changed the phone’s positioning because of user studies showing most consumers don’t care about swapping out core functions such as processors and radios, executives said.
The phone will go a step farther than LG’s modular premium G5, launched earlier this year, by offering six modular slots instead of one.
When it becomes available to consumers, a basic version of the phone will cost about the same as premium smartphones and will offer similar performance, company executives said.