A couple of months ago Motorola announced its plans to develop a modular smartphone called Project Ara. This is a type of smartphone that can be upgraded by the consumer. Let’s say you want a more powerful camera; all you need to do is just buy an upgraded camera kit and replace the existing camera of your device.
It appears that it’s not only Motorola that is interested in this concept. Chinese company ZTE showed its own modular smartphone concept at CES 2014 which is called the ZTE Eco-Mobius. It allows the user to upgrade the smartphone or tablet without buying a new unit.
ZTE does not have a working prototype right now and even the demo unit that is displayed is locked in a glass case. We could however see how the system will work.
The ZTE Eco-Mobius has a solid frame that houses all of the modular components. Each module can easily be replaced by opening the case and replacing it with new ones. Some of the modules that can easily be replaced include the CPU, GPU, camera, storage, and battery. Each module comes with a magnetic connector which makes them easy to snap in place. The demo unit even included two battery modules so users can easily replace their batteries once the old one shows signs of degradation.
The Eco-Mobius was actually mentioned by ZTE last year however it is only now that a physical product has been displayed. The company showed smartphone and tablet models that are modular and have been designed to reduce waste (hence the “eco” in its name). The idea is that consumers can easily swap modules as needed like having a camera that performs better in low lighting conditions or using a much more powerful processor to run the latest games.
ZTE says that right now there are no plans to bring this device to the market. It’s just researching the concept of a modular device and if they think that it is viable then it will be manufacturing the device.
Motorola on the other hand is optimistic that the modular smartphone is the future. The company already has a manufacturing partner and an internal prototype has already been developed.
The idea of having a modular smartphone is a great one since consumers will no longer need to replace their whole device once an upgraded model arrives. Al they need to do is upgrade a component of their smartphone. This greatly reduces waste and is a better way of managing resources.