Must watch: working Project Ara prototype shown off in behind the scenes video


Project Ara Spiral 1

Still in its infancy, Project Ara still has a ways to go before it reaches a consumer release. Over the past few months, we’ve watch as more information surrounding the project continually trickled out, the most recent being a second round of Project Ara developer’s conferences slated for January in both the US and Singapore.

Some might be surprised to know that although Project Ara runs Android, it isn’t actually an official Android project or even a Nexus device. In fact, it’s not even a Google project. This was made clear in Phonebloks’ latest blog post which clears up some confusion about their involvement in the project. The Ara team wants to make it clear that Dutch designer Dave Hakkens who came up with the Phonebloks concept we showed you guys awhile back is more of a community manager, creating videos and giving sneak peeks at Ara development.

That’s all good and dandy, but we’re sure many of you are dying to see more of the actual prototype and in Phoneblok’s latest video — released just today — you can watch as Dave goes behind the scenes at the NK Labs in Boston, MA and fires up a working Project Ara prototype known as Spiral 1. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t get goosebumps.

Although space on the Spiral 1 prototype is limited (about 49% of the space available to developers), Spiral 2 which is being developed by Toshiba will have “most of the area” available for the developers’ function. Unfortunately, the Toshiba-built prototype wasn’t shown off in the video but will instead take center stage during next years’ Project Ara developer’s conference.

Once again, pricing for an entry-level Project Ara device will likely run around $50-100, although final pricing of an actual Project Ara device will largely remain in the hands of developers building modules. Sign. Me. Up.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Gimmiee now! Ill build the nexus 5 2014 the way it should’ve been.

    *buys 4000mAh battery*

    1. Check out my phone! It has no speakers, no camera, no flash, no sd card but it’s got 4 batteries! :D

  2. looks like a lint trap to me

  3. Oh man, good stuff.
    Logical step for a cellphone, get it cell-phone. Not just cells on the network but cells for the phone too, corny right? I know companies are after that almighty dollar and this looks to be a gold mine. Of course this could just be a tinkers dream and a niche market, who knows.

  4. Guess I’ll go ahead and upgrade. Will probably be another year before they get the first model to market and then will probably still have bugs and growing pains.

    1. I will own this as soon as possible (Reasonably priced) but I will NOT use it as my primary phone until it proves to be worth investing in. But why not for a cheap iPod touch with a “cool” factor, if nothing else.

    2. By this time next year we should have a blocky phone. I’m resisting the 805s coming out now and holding out to build my own phone.

  5. So when you drop your phone does it break into a dozen pieces? I don’t see how anyone will want this. Nerds will love it.

    1. Depends how high. Anything above 4 feet then probably.

    2. Supposed to be secured by electromagnets, I believe

    3. If a phone breaks into a dozen pieces or just two, does it matter?

      1. In this case its easy enough to put back together unlike normal phones.

    4. That’s one of the reasons why I would buy it. Cause I know how much it sucks when your phone drops two feet and breaks your LCD. At least hopefully replacing sub parts won’t cost as much as replacing your entire phone due to a broken sub part.

      1. Buy a good case and you won’t have to worry about the LCD cracking.

      2. I’ve replaced several screens on several devices and you’d be surprised at how much a screen costs. It’s actually a good portion of the phone’s cost. A brand new flagship device tends to have replacement screens go for about $200.

  6. So is there anyone who would buy into this and NOT buy the best modules out at the time? I mean, are you really going to buy into this and buy middle of the road to low end modules like a 2mp camera? No. I like the concept, but see no value in any modules that are not the best of the best at the time and if so, that means really limited modules to select from because who wants a module of crap speakers or 2 gen old processor or a tiny camera.

    1. Choices, man… and opportunity. Not everyone who is excited about this device may have the means to get all the newest / best modules. Heck, I’d let everybody else “beta test” modules from companies I am not familiar with before I jump in.

      I do the same with video cards on my PC — could I buy a new $450 card each summer? Yes. Do I? Nope. I can get it next summer for $120.

    2. How about upgrading? Maybe you buy all the high-end modules now but who’s to say there won’t be a better X coming Y time from when you bought everything.

      Or maybe you want a ton of storage or an extra battery.

      Maybe even modules you don’t know exist yet.

      1. Or let’s say you’re going on a long road trip so you swap in a larger battery and substitute a smaller camera. Or you’re going to a sporting event so you swap in a better camera. It can all be based on the situation

    3. I would not mind going with a smaller or no camera since I have a DSLR already. I could swap a SDcard slot for the camera for example. So yeah not everyone needs all high end parts or all the standard parts of a normal cellphone. I rarely if ever use the camera on my phone. So swapping the camera here for a secondary SD slot would be great.

      1. I can get on board with that. Unfortunately though, being a parent and not always having the dslr around, I need a cell phone camera

    4. I would. All I want is a 6inch phone with a big ass battery that runs smooth. A average camera is good enough since I barely use it. Wireless charging is pretty pointless for me. I could live without nfc since I have never used it on my nexus 5.

    5. I would be happy with a 5mp camera. I like having a camera on my phone when I need it, but I’m not trying to print a 3ft professional quality picture of my dog to hang above the fireplace. I would probably buy the top of the processor, ram, and GPU, but I’d be more than happy with a 1080 screen, a 5mp rear camera, and an average set of speakers. I think what will be neat is to see what modules people will create that offer features that aren’t currently available in phones.

    6. You may be paying the same initially as any flagship. But as soon as a bump up in battery, camera, or processor, etc occurs you only buy that 1 item instead of switching up your whole phone like we do now.
      Then you can go and sell/trade that old module of yours because someone who’s not into top end specs but rather wants a budget friendly device will want your 1 generation old/still on the market item.

  7. Since we are technically putting it togheter, well the parts. wouldn’t it come cheaper instead of a Flagship? Well let’s say 5-600$ with max out specs?

    1. I think what will make it cheaper is the fact that you can omit things you don’t want. I don’t want a fingerprint scanner, a heart rate monitor, a front facing camera, an IR blaster, an SD card slot, or a CD burner/ toaster combo built into my phone, so with this phone I’m not paying for those things. I’m betting that if you put all of the stuff that normally comes with a flagship phone into an Ara phone your prices will be similar, but the real beauty shows it self 6 months after you buy the phone. You want a faster processor or more ram? Buy a faster processor and/or more ram instead of buying a new phone. Personally I hope to get a Nexus 6 and hang on to it until Ara is available.

  8. Project Ara is DEFINITELY a Google Project
    the blog only says that it’s not an official Google product (yet)
    because the phone has yet to be released
    (correct me if I’m wrong)

  9. Hi but i dont know how will they adjust screen as few like it big few like it small..
    btw its a huge improvment in technology i love to keep my phone no matter wat happens

    1. Probably just buy that component as a single piece and fit all your modules into that one. However you would probably be limited to how small you can go since these modules would need to fit inside. Maybe they will have certain slots become universal expansions in that you could forgo 1-2 universal expansion slots if you wanted to go super small on the screen size or add an additional slot if you chose to go bigger.

      1. They have different sized frames to choose from. I just assume the smaller frames might be missing a few slots compared to the larger ones. Ontop of that they have different front slots to choose from. Heres a picture of the frames http://www.inferse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Project-Ara-Endo-types-620×437.jpg

        1. I’ll take a large, to go

  10. I think this is the mobile device I’ve been the most hyped about, ever. I’m really excited for this concept and hope it takes off big because I would love to build a phone exclusively with what I WANT, and slowly up the ante on that same device. Similar to PC, cars, etc. Upgrade parts versus a whole phone. Save money and the environment.
    OS wasn’t buttery smooth, but it was great to see it functioning.

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