Phonebloks

Ratings

2 of 5 stars
What’s this?

This is a crowdfunding proposal to build a new kind of user-upgradeable phone made of modular parts. The concept lets the user swap out components as necessary, so if you feel like you want a faster processor or a better camera or a bigger battery, you can just pop out the old one and replace it with a new one. Similarly, if a single part breaks — like, say, the screen — just that part can be replaced, saving you the pain of having to toss out the whole unit or buy an entirely new one.

Phonebloks

The video is incredibly well done and very compelling, though it does seem like an idea that’s too good to be true. I know very little about industrial design but it strikes me that there’s a certain na№vetж to the idea that a commercially and technologically viable phone can be made from a fully modularized, endlessly reconfigurable system of parts. Then again, maybe we’re at a stage in technology where a little bit of na№vetж or audaciousness is all that’s necessary to build something truly amazing. If the Phonebloks team can do it, it will certainly be that. Watch the full video.

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3 Comments

  1. A small but crucial correction: it’s not crowdfunding, it’s ‘crowdspeaking’. The only goal is to get enough attention in order to interest hardware manufacturers. That’s also why I’m very skeptic towards this plan: hardware manufacturers deliberately produce products with a limited lifecycle. (The same applies to e.g., lightbulbs and pantyhoses. There’s a very good documentary called ‘The Lightbulb Conspiracy’.) Currently, the phonebloks people wait for one of these incumbents to produce it. I’d say: forget it. The only way to get such an idea of the ground is to (a) crowdfund it and make it yourself (comparable to e.g., the fair phone (http://www.fairphone.com/)), which will be a massive operation with a big chance to fail, or (b) hope, and that’s where the speculation starts, a challenger with enough knowledge and resources wants to pick it up to break open the market. Who knows, there might be a new Huawei sleeping somewhere in Asia. But for the moment, I doubt we will ever see this phone.

  2. Great video concept but that’s all. It’s a solution in search of a problem. I’ve used Apple devices for twenty years or more. About all of them have been resold or, more likely, handed down to second and third users in the family. Recent products are even more long lived. Check Gazelle; it will even buy broken iPhones. And Apple will buy back its products for recycling.

  3. Good critique of this here. It’s totally not feasible: Link

    The aspiration is admirable, and the underlying goal is also nice, but the video is misleading as it implies it’s more than just a 3D rendering.

    Still, it’s popularity does give a voice to people’s desires and hopefully acts as a guide post to the industry about the qualities people want in their electronics.