PuzzlePhone is a Modular Smartphone Concept that Could Last a Decade

PuzzlePhone is a Modular Smartphone Concept that Could Last a Decade

Finnish startup wants to break the smartphone down into three upgradable components.

Google isn't the only company with plans for a modular smartphone, as Finland's PuzzlePhone wants to bring such a device to market in 2015.

Many of us are tied to a given smartphone for two years (the typical length of a mobile service contract). But "New Every Two," is not PuzzlePhone's cup of tea, as its phones could stay relevant (in theory) for as long as a decade.

The PuzzlePhone breaks down into three core components: the Brain, the Heart and the Spine. The Brain contains the primary electronics (CPU, GPU) and the camera sensor. The Heart has the battery and additional chips and sensors. The Spine contains the display, microphone, and speakers. Each of these parts can be upgraded without needed to upgrade the other. If you're happy with your 3,200 mAh battery and 1080p display, but need some extra zip, just swap out your dual-core brain for a quad-core variant, and so on.

Such a design could really shine on the repair front, where one could change out a cracked display, post-drop, for a fresh screen without touching the rest of the device.

The one box that these components don't check is storage, but that feature could simply be relegated to a necessary Micro SD card that lives in the Spine, Heart or Brain.

Circular Devices, which has been working on the PuzzlePhone platform since 2013, uses a hardware design that's completely open (so anyone could make components), and the software is a forked version of Google's Android OS. Other operating systems would eventually be supported as well, so long as the software plays nice with Circular Design's hardware roadmap.

The PuzzlePhone would be a mid-range device if successfully launched, and its price would reflect that target.

Source: PuzzlePhone | The Verge

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An interesting concept, I could see its potential in dropping the rediculas price of smartphones. That said I'm not in a hurry to replace my current device.

Really last a decade, or last a decade like Destiny won't?

The whole modular smartphone idea is a good one. We'll see which one gets to market first and how people react to it

Let's hope their product is better than that terrible marketing video. Seriously, that looks like a half-assed video for a high school business class.

I just don't see how a modular design can work when the name of the game is packing everything into a small package. Where even fractions of a millimeter make a difference, these separate parts will always be more bulky and less stylish than one complete package.

Avaholic03:
Let's hope their product is better than that terrible marketing video. Seriously, that looks like a half-assed video for a high school business class.

I just don't see how a modular design can work when the name of the game is packing everything into a small package. Where even fractions of a millimeter make a difference, these separate parts will always be more bulky and less stylish than one complete package.

I'm not sure this is meant for the market looking for the sleek and stylish. It's for the types who don't wanna risk having to pay out the ass for a new phone when they can just replace a component for cheap, or like the idea of buying something, enjoying it, and swapping it out later. It's like me with my comp case. It's big, it's good, I like it, but now I wanna swap it with something sleeker and less flashy (Not to mention smaller and lighter). So, after building it, it's easy to just re-build it all in a new case. I'm not hardwired to the one I have. Same sort of thing, ya know?

I, for one, really like this idea, and would probably get one of the 3 new modular phone ideas in the future.

It's a nice idea but they are forgetting the reason mobile markets are growing so wildly is because phones have become an idiotic fashion statement, which makes people buy the most fashionable one every year or even several times per year.
So while an upgradable phone is technically very sound it goes against what the masses consume mindlessly.

Make an option for a higher res screen and you've sold me. I love the concept here, just replace a couple parts of the phone every year or so rather than dealing with contracts and all that bollocks for a new phone.

Yeah as said before, people probably don't keep buying new phones just for the improved hardware.
My over a year old galaxy S3 still does everything I need it to do perfectly fine.
It's more of a dumb fashion statement to mouthfoamingly jump onto the newest bendphone.

Repairing cracked screens sounds nice though but I don't think those parts would be as cheap as you make them out to be since it probably won't be less than price of new phone/3.

Elvis Starburst:

Avaholic03:
Let's hope their product is better than that terrible marketing video. Seriously, that looks like a half-assed video for a high school business class.

I just don't see how a modular design can work when the name of the game is packing everything into a small package. Where even fractions of a millimeter make a difference, these separate parts will always be more bulky and less stylish than one complete package.

I'm not sure this is meant for the market looking for the sleek and stylish. It's for the types who don't wanna risk having to pay out the ass for a new phone when they can just replace a component for cheap, or like the idea of buying something, enjoying it, and swapping it out later. It's like me with my comp case. It's big, it's good, I like it, but now I wanna swap it with something sleeker and less flashy (Not to mention smaller and lighter). So, after building it, it's easy to just re-build it all in a new case. I'm not hardwired to the one I have. Same sort of thing, ya know?

I, for one, really like this idea, and would probably get one of the 3 new modular phone ideas in the future.

Firstly, comparing it to your PC isn't appropriate because I doubt your PC was designed to be portable. Like I said, compact and sleek is the name of the game when you need to carry something in your pocket. Even their idealized version that's only 3D modeled right now looks bulky and awkward...imagine the looks you'd get having that in your pocket.

Secondly, until we know how much each component costs, it's impossible to say it would be cheaper than the current smartphone model. You'd have to buy all 3 components to start off, which would almost certainly be more expensive than a single device. So if the parts are any more than ~$100 each (and I'm betting they will be more expensive), you'll be at a net loss compared to the two-year cycle right now.

Finally, I think smartphones are reaching a performance level where any more incremental improvements will be less noticeable to the user. So, desperately trying to stay on the cutting edge by replacing individual parts will be less important. This modular design will miss out on potentially revolutionary new developments, like the folding phone or fully transparent phone. Once the dust settles from the spec race (which will be very soon), it will be that type of revolutionary design that sets a phone apart. Modular design is just a gimmick for a nearly bygone era of chasing bigger numbers.

Eh, like others have said, phones are becoming fashion statements and the power gaps are closing between generations. These modular phones could have been great back when Apple fanbois were freezing in line for an iphone 2, but now the market for them might be really niche. And, that fact might drive the costs up even more. I probably won't even be interested in one when they hit the market, unless regular phone makers start following some really dumb fad.

Call me when someone makes a modular phone that can be shaped into the Lament Configuration. I'd buy one just to be able to pull that off my belt and start talking into it.

Captcha: keyboard
Thanks for reminding me captcha. Actually, I'd love a modular phone with a full touchscreen and a slide out keyboard. That probably won't happen or will be incredibly expensive and have a fragile mechanism, though.

I've never understood why people feel the need to buy a new phone every time a new model comes out. I mean, if the phone still works, why get rid of it? Especially with stuff like the iPhone, where people obsess over minute changes to the form factor or UI.

Since a lot of products use the strategy of planned obsolescence in the world today, i doubt this would catch on.

I am even skeptical, as what if they(Other companies like Apple, MicroSoft) made new models that "wouldn't work well" or in other words wouldn't work with older versions, forcing some kind of puesdo-upgrade.

I am also wondering how this fits in with the "Cool" factor phones have. When i took a Marketing and technology class, we spoke upon the PhoneBloks idea and students in the class stated that it didnt appeal to them. They made their decision on what their friends had, and what was trendy, not necessarily what was functionally proper. I am no expert though, and that is just my opinion.

I like the concept... But wow that video...

I mean, what's with the porn music? Ugh.

Honestly, I also liked motorola's concept better than this design...

So it kind of similar to that innovating phone idea posted on here ages ago? The difference is that their phone only have couple of componment while the other one had several parts and were almost jigsaw like when put together.

 

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