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Google isn't the only one making a modular smartphone

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 1, 2014
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It looks like Google's modular Project Ara smartphone has some fresh competition. Circular Devices has been working on the Puzzlephone, a simpler take on Android phones that you can upgrade yourself. Instead of letting you replace things piece-by-piece, it divides parts into "the Brain" (core electronics and camera), "the Heart" (battery and secondary tech) and "the Spine" (LCD, speakers and basic shape). It's not as flexible as Ara, but it promises a sleeker design that still includes real futureproofing; you can swap in a new module when you want a faster processor, a fresh battery or new features. The goal is to have a base phone that can last for 10 years, rather than two or three.

You won't have to wait too long to give the Puzzlephone a try... if everything goes according to plan. Circular Devices is near the prototype stage and hopes to have a shipping product in the second half of 2015, but a finished release is contingent on additional funding. It also faces an uphill battle when Project Ara has the full support of both Google and hardware partners. Still, it's good to know that that an alternative to Ara exists -- you hopefully won't have to settle for a single approach to modular mobile computing.

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