What sounded like science fiction when it was first announced, Project Ara — the world’s first modular smartphone — has been on the fast track from development to market availability. Arriving first in Puerto Rico later this year, Ara will offer up a bare bones Android-powered smartphone for $50 (frame, display, battery, CPU, etc.), giving users the ability to upgrade or build-upon the device according to their wants/needs using attachable modules.
Toshiba is one of a handful of OEMs signing on to build these modules and in a YouTube video, they showed off the first working Ara camera module. They actually have a few different versions — 2MP (front facing), 5MP, 13MP — and in the video, show the 5MP version playing nice with their “Big development board.”
The cameras, which will obviously be offered up at various price points, simply snap onto the back of the phone and can be swapped in and out with ease. Going on a trip and know you’ll be snapping a lot of family photos? Snap in the 13MP. Just another boring work week? Take out the camera altogether and use a RAM boost module (or something to that effect).
As affordable as the basic board will be, the real question on everyone’s minds is how much these individual modules will actually cost. Even if a fully decked out Project Ara smartphone costs more than your standard flagship smartphone, being able to upgrade components as your finances allow, (or even forgo “needless” specs like 2K displays) could prove a viable option to some. Whether Project Ara will catch on outside of the hardcore tech crowd remains to be seen, but we’re optimistic.