9 Comments

Summary:

Similar to Motorola’s Project Ara, ZTE has a concept phone at CES that you essentially build yourself. Different hardware modules can be swapped in or out for a custom device that can improve over time.

ZTE Phone parts

Among the many new products at CES, there are also concept ideas and designs. One, from ZTE, would allow consumers to build their own smartphone of sorts: Modules with different functions that fit together for a completely customized smartphone.

ZTE Modular phone complete

The pieces for ZTE’s concept all join together like blocks or puzzle pieces and are housed in a shell that includes an LCD display. Theoretically, you could swap out the shell for a higher resolution screen, add higher capacity batteries or improve your photos with a better camera sensor.

ZTE phone modules

Motorola recently announced a similar initiative called Project Ara, so this idea isn’t new.

But as far-fetched the concept sounds, with the growing interest in custom 3D printing, Arduino and hardware hacks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some wanting to actually “build” their own smartphone. A few years ago, this type of product would be much more difficult to create. It’s still no easy task, but custom hardware is becoming more feasible as chipmakers embrace the current hacker and tinkerer community.

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  1. how far-fetched can an idea be if it’s already being used on computers since invention?

  2. Why from modular blocks?

  3. With the industry trying to groom consumers into a no win situation with embedded batteries and no expandable memory, I welcome the freedom to augment my needs. A high end phone shouldn’t cost a consumer top buck and limit accessiblity. I would rather spend more to have the accessibility in tailoring these needs. Not the other way around.

    John B.

  4. I like the idea, i wanna buy lg display, sony camera module, if possible nokia antenna, Samsung 64bit processor, kingston memory module, great for dreaming. Try it zte. Also Motorola.

  5. I’ve been watching this future-niche since Phonebloks, I like this because it breaks out the mobile “slab” into a tiny PC desktop, Back to the good old days, only in miniature!!!

  6. Chris Saunders Friday, January 10, 2014

    Yes yes yes yes yes! Give me a midplane and let me choose what components I want.

  7. Chris Saunders Friday, January 10, 2014

    Reblogged this on Capacitive Flux and commented:
    ZTE is heading down the same path as Motorola is with Project Ara – is it possible to give consumers a modular smartphone system that allows them to pick and choose components to attach to a standard midplane? Very exciting.

  8. well, originality is not a key argument here, being the project yet in pc since their start and on youtube and so on, but i see yet some improvements from zte in therms of platform compared to motorola (tough i still can’t imagine what damage could do a single drop of water).
    If this leeds to better competition in the market of low to middle cost mobiles then it’s good. It’s also good the configuration possibility, but, mobiles must be also little, handy, and not weak if falling or if they meet some water, plus they must be software optimized to perform better without loading slow general purpose drivers and os, therefore draining battery and slowing down.
    So i guess that the disadvantages that comes from not optimization are far more, at least in the market of the not so cheap phones where you don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost.
    If they succeed in making good software for that , then it has strong arguments

  9. motorola and phone-blocks came way before ZTE

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