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Fairphone 2 – the first ethical modular phone to launch ahead of Google’s Ara

Modular phones are a thing for the future, and since Google showed their first attempt at a modular phone, everyone has been hyped for an Ara. But what if you could have one of these futuristic gadgets sooner than Google had in mind? Fairphone 2 could be a great alternative as the device is already very close to being complete, especially since it does not use any “conflict” minerals that could make the building process longer and more complicated.

 

fairphone2-752x490

 

 

Fairphone was the idea of some thoughtful devs who considered that the world could embrace a greener more ethical tech product. They crowd-funded the phone that sold more than 60,000 units, which was more than enough to put in motion a second iteration of the device. Fairphone 2 is even more greener and more environmentally friendly than its predecessor. It is modular, but not as modular as Project Ara wants to be. The smartphone is built much like a regular phone, but its parts are easily replaceable. This way, you can prolong your device’s life without having to spend lots of monies on more and more devices every few months (unless you really like those mainstream smartphones).

 

 

 

 

Fairphone 2 has easily replaceable or repairable parts and the manufacturers promise to help their customers at every step if need be. If you need a better camera, a faster processor, more RAM or better GPU, all you have to do is contact Fairphone and you will get them (at a price, of course). You will be able to replace every part of this device with better ones as the company continues to grow and those orders keep coming in.

 

What does the original Fairphone 2 look like? Here’s the spec list:

  • 5-inch full HD (1080p) LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Quad-core Snapdragon 801
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB internal storage plus microSD
  • Dual SIM slots
  • 2,420 mAh battery
  • 4G LTE connectivity.

 

This being said, the device should place somewhere around the mid-high average spectrum of the niche market. You can order a Fairphone from the official site linked in the source, but don’t expect it to arrive before January 2016. You can choose between black matte, blue matte, blue translucent, transparent and black translucent. The translucent back cases show some of the “internal organs” of the device. You will have to pay $590 for one, and the company is assuring customers that “Your purchase covers the cost of phone production, plus Fairphone’s operations and projects that create positive impact”.

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to tearing down and building back up, Fairphone 2 does very well, as the guys from iFixit gave it 10 out of 10. The modular smartphone is easy to teardown because it has no glue whatsoever between components; you simply take everything off by unscrewing some nice little screws. The LCD screen and glass protection are fused together, but they can come off pretty easy too if you need them to.

 

All in all, if you want to try the modular smartphone deal before Google amazes us with its real Ara phone, you can support independent manufacturers and choose a Fairphone 2. You may have to wait for a while for your order to get to you now, but next year these could become very popular and steal Google’s race from beneath their feet!

 

Source: Fairphone

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[Update: the drop test was a joke] Project Ara trouble ahead: magnets that connect the modules fail the drop test

UPDATE: It appears that the drop test tweet from Ara’s social media manager was a joke, because yesterday’s tweet sorted everything out. It seems that Project Ara is working on a signature way of keeping the modules together in their smartphone, but they will not reveal just what this innovative not-magnet is.

 

Project Ara got back to us today after last week’s announcement, and things do not seem to go that well for Google’s futuristic pet project. Speculation runs wild as more and more negatives seem to loom over Ara. A few days ago the projected test run for Puerto Rico was canceled and now it seems that some technical aspects are keeping the project in check.

 

Project Ara

 

 

It appears that the electromagnets that were intended to keep the hardware modules in place did not pass the drop tests. The tweet prom Project Ara is pretty short and leaves room to much speculation. There are no details given in what concerns how the magnets fail, but we can assume that the drop tests are creating powerful impacts that destroy the modules after ejecting them from the device.

 

https://twitter.com/ProjectAra/status/634035306153443329

 

 

These electro-permanent magnets do not require power to remain magnetized because they can be switched on and off electrically. This could be a great solution, especially for a modular phone, but it seems that the connection does not last or is not strong enough to keep the module in one piece.

 

Google will have to find different “glue” for the Project Ara module pieces to come together. Some duct tape maybe? Or bobby pins? The safe bet is a click-on system to keep everything tucked in properly.

 

Source: Twitter

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Project Ara cancels Puerto Rico test market plans

Project Ara has been in the spotlight for a while now and, while progress has been made, it seems to be much farther from release than we thought. The smartphone that lets you swap important hardware components in order to upgrade your device one piece at a time was supposed to debut in Puerto Rico sometime this summer.

 

Project Ara

 

 

After three months of zero contact, it appears that plans are changing because the Project Ara team announced on Twitter that the market pilot is being rerouted to an undisclosed location. No other details were released except for the fact that more news will show up sometime next week. The team hinted that their device will eventually reach the Puerto Rico market.

 

This all follows the Google restructuring process where it becomes the largest subsidiary to Alphabet, the new holding company that presides over most of the previously held Google projects. It’s nice to know the project Ara is not over, at least not for the time being.

 

Source: TheVerge

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Puzzlephone – the Finnish concept response to Google’s project Ara modular phone

Project Ara is not the only concept meant to create modular phones anymore, as Puzzlephone could be an improved version of Google’s efforts in the near future. This project belongs to Finland’s Circular Devices and their device would break into three parts where the spine would become the LCD screen with speakers and the basic structure whereas the Brain will be the camera and processor modules and the Heart is the battery with the second structures.

 

Puzzlephone

 

 

The idea stems from the success Project Ara had this year and it basically represents a much more basic idea. Phones are important devices in peoples’ lives right now, and when one component from your beloved mobile world is ruined, you feel as if your entire world is ruined. With the modular phone system, things would be much simpler as, when something breaks, you can replace it with a new portion and still keep your beloved handset at the expense of a battery and a processor or some RAM.

 

Puzzlephone 1

 

 

The Finnish company based in Espoo resides in the same town as the one Nokia sprouted from, and it has been working on Puzzlephone since 2013, and it appears to be close to producing a working prototype. They are definitely not on the same page as Google’s Ara project, which is said to get to store shelves as soon as the summer of 2015, but it’s a start. The phone is supposed to launch in the second half of 2015, and it would have a mid-range price.

 

 

 

The Puzzlephone would run on a forked Android OS version but its developers will be looking for third party developers and options in order to stay true to their open source standards. As Ara showed earlier this year, Puzzlephone proves to be an interesting and ambitious project which could revolutionize the mobile industry in basing it more on sustainability and step-by-step evolution as opposed to more and more different devices we see every year.  Only the public can say if this project will become a success or fade in oblivion.

 

Source: TheVerge

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Project ARA to use modified Android L version allowing hot-swapping modules on the go

Project ARA is making progress and its next step seems to be using a modified version of Android L which supports hot-swapping all modules except for the Screen and CPU ones. Google is trying to make the impossible possible and does not give its LEGO smartphone project go away. New details were released recently by project head Paul Eremenko who says the module can be taken apart while it is active.

Project ARA is, in essence, the perfect phone made out of modules you can add or replace as you want. Those who want a better camera, a better screen or more storage space and add better modules can give up other modules which represent features they don’t usually need.

Eremenko says that Ara will function on a modified Android L version which enables modular hardware to be used and interchanged. The device should allow module swapping while the phone is running – only the CPU and screen cannot be exchanged in this instance. RAM can’t be changed all at once and the main storage will not be able to be swapped while the device is running either.

In order to make project Ara reality, Google is working with Linaro, an open source engineering firm, to design the Android version needed by the device. It appears that modules will be sold in online stores where customers will be able to create the phone they want as they go. The first working version of the Ara device could be shown in December, at a dev conference, and the product may become viable on the market in 2015.

Source: Phonebloks