Are you intrigued by the idea of customizing your smartphone with interchangeable parts? Enter the realm of Project Ara, a venture that fulfills your wish of creating a personalized Android device. Developed within the innovative space of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), Ara challenges the conventional approach to phone design by empowering users to tailor their devices according to their preferences.

For those new to this concept, let’s delve into what sets Google’s DIY smartphone initiative apart and what we can anticipate from this exciting exploration of modular technology.

Exploring the Design of the Project Ara Phone

Currently in its prototype phase, the Project Ara phone showcases a simplistic yet innovative design. The device features a primary rectangular structure referred to as the Endoskeleton, which is further divided into smaller rectangular compartments. Positioned on the rear are circuit boards and connectors, allowing users to attach rectangular modules such as an 8-megapixel camera block or a processor block.

Users have the flexibility to insert their preferred screen and incorporate specialized modules, catering to specific needs like medical or gaming accessories, which may not be commonly found in traditional smartphones. Moreover, the availability of varying frame sizes accommodates both smaller and larger handset preferences.

Google’s Project Ara offers a unique opportunity for users to customize their own smartphones through a modular approach. The project showcases innovative hands-on features that allow for a personalized device-building experience. At the heart of Project Ara are interchangeable modules that enable users to tailor their phones according to their preferences.

During a visit to Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, we had the chance to explore the Spiral 2 prototype, which is at the forefront of this groundbreaking initiative. Currently, there are eight modules available, each serving a different function. The essence of Project Ara lies in the freedom it offers users to place any module anywhere on the phone, allowing for a versatile and user-centric design. For instance, the camera module can be installed in a position that best suits the individual’s needs, enhancing convenience and usability.

This approach heralds a new era in smartphone customization, empowering users to create a device that aligns perfectly with their lifestyle and requirements. By embracing modular technology, Project Ara opens up a realm of possibilities for personalizing smartphones like never before, paving the way for a more tailored and user-driven mobile experience.

Why Project Ara Matters

Project Ara represents the pinnacle of customization in the smartphone industry. It empowers users to handpick every module, determine their placement, and choose the color and visual design, offering unparalleled flexibility.

By allowing users to select the specifications they desire, Project Ara caters to both those seeking specific features and those mindful of their budget. While premium parts may come at a higher price, budget-conscious consumers can personalize their device to prioritize where they allocate their funds. For instance, opting for a high-resolution screen over a top-of-the-line camera can result in cost savings.

One of the key advantages of an Ara phone is the ability to swap specialized components, such as a mini telephoto lens or a heart-rate monitor. The modularity of these interchangeable parts enables users to tailor their device for different activities or needs.

Moreover, the modular design of Project Ara allows for convenient upgrades at the user’s pace. This flexibility benefits not only early adopters but also individuals who prefer to prolong the lifespan of their devices. Whether it involves retaining the same device body while upgrading specific components or swiftly transitioning to the latest processor or camera, Project Ara offers a cost-effective and adaptable solution for users.

When Google’s Project Ara is Launching

Google made an exciting announcement in January regarding the upcoming launch of a Project Ara pilot program in Puerto Rico in 2015. While specific dates or a precise time frame have not been unveiled yet, Google has confirmed partnerships with two carriers for the launch, namely Claro and Open Mobile.

Paul Eremenko, the lead of Project Ara, highlighted Puerto Rico as an ideal location due to its significant mobile internet traffic, accounting for 75 percent of usage. Eremenko also noted the country’s diverse ownership of both smartphones and feature phones, making it a strategic choice for the project’s debut.

Who’s Involved

Two major collaborators in the development of Project Ara have been identified: Toshiba and Yezz, a Miami-based phone manufacturer. Toshiba’s involvement includes the creation of two processors specifically designed for Ara phones, along with the development of a 5-megapixel camera module for the project. On the other hand, Yezz has been assigned the task of producing the modules themselves, with a promise of delivering a blend of both basic and creatively inspired components.

While Yezz’s role is crucial, it’s essential to note that numerous other companies will also be contributing to the initiative, collectively working towards the production of 20 to 30 modules set to be available at the pilot launch. Additionally, Google plays a pivotal role in this project as not only the orchestrator but also the owner of the online marketplace where users can purchase modules for their Project Ara phones. This marketplace presents a significant revenue potential for Google, especially if the concept of customizable, modular phones gains popularity.

Understanding the Cost of an Ara Phone

When considering the cost of an Ara phone, various factors come into play, ultimately influencing the price you might pay. The size of the phone and the specific components you select will contribute to the final price. It’s also important to note that different carriers may offer their Ara-phone packages with varying price points.

According to Project Ara’s FAQ, there is a possibility that the total cost of assembling an Ara phone could exceed that of a conventional handset with similar specifications. This variance can be attributed to the different deals and promotions offered by carriers in the market.

Potential Considerations to Keep in Mind

When exploring the exciting realm of prototype devices, one must bear in mind that the final product might differ from the initial concept. It’s natural to have queries, particularly regarding aspects such as battery longevity and operational efficiency.

The team behind Ara is diligently focusing on enhancing the battery life of its innovative Spiral prototype line to ensure a full day of usage, especially as they gear up for Project Ara’s worldwide introduction. The interesting approach of having the battery as an additional module offers both benefits and challenges. While the idea of customizing the battery size is appealing, it also raises concerns about potential inefficiencies. To address this, Team Ara is devising a solution that allows users to seamlessly switch between various power sources, including solar panels and mini fuel cells, alongside battery packs, without having to power down the device. However, to achieve an extended battery life, users may need to invest in these supplementary modules initially.

Furthermore, an area of intrigue involves how well the components will work together during replacements. Typically, a software layer facilitates communication between these elements. Should Ara phones operate on conventional Android software, the transition might be smooth, considering that smartphones commonly incorporate components from diverse manufacturers. However, if a modified Android version is in play, it could present different challenges.

According to a spokesperson from Project Ara, the Module Developers Kit (MDK) is intricately designed to ensure seamless communication between the Endoskeleton and any inserted module. Additionally, an upcoming Ara Application Manager aims to streamline the transition between similar modules, such as two camera blocks.

Another aspect to ponder is the compatibility factor. For instance, pairing a modest processor with a high-end camera may not yield optimal results. While Google’s team is still refining this aspect, they are contemplating offering guidelines or recommendations to assist Ara users in creating harmonious combinations and avoiding incompatible pairings.

Moreover, the open, snap-on design of Ara raises considerations about durability and waterproofing. In the event of a malfunction, users may need to reach out to individual module manufacturers or replace the affected part themselves. Although dealing with a faulty Ara phone may lack the safety net of traditional devices, the potential for quicker resolutions through self-replacement, such as with a damaged screen, remains a possibility.

Project Ara has outlined plans to leverage “third-party logistics partners” during the pilot phase in Puerto Rico to streamline processes related to warranties and replacements, showing a proactive stance towards addressing user concerns effectively.

Not for everyone

Project Ara’s modular phones are a cutting-edge concept that is currently in development. These devices are not positioned to immediately replace traditional, all-in-one smartphones. While they may not be the best fit for everyone, they offer a unique appeal to a specific audience.

If you are someone who enjoys personalizing and customizing your phone’s specifications and additional features, Project Ara could be a fascinating option for you. These modular phones cater more to tech enthusiasts and individuals who appreciate the flexibility and control over their device’s components.

On the other hand, if you prefer a straightforward, uncomplicated smartphone experience without the need for intricate customization, a traditional smartphone might be a more suitable choice for your needs.

The concept of Project Ara offers a unique and exciting approach to smartphone customization that empowers users to build their own device by mixing and matching components. Below, you will find some key questions and answers regarding this innovative project:


  1. What is Project Ara?
    Project Ara is an initiative by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) that aims to create a modular smartphone allowing users to customize their devices by selecting and assembling individual components.

  2. How does a Project Ara phone look like?
    The Project Ara phone consists of a basic rectangular frame called the Endoskeleton, which features smaller compartments to snap in modules such as camera blocks, processors, screens, and specialized add-ons.

  3. What are the benefits of Project Ara?
    Project Ara offers unparalleled customization options, allowing users to choose components based on their preferences, needs, and budget. It provides flexibility in selecting specifications and upgrades, potentially saving costs in the long run.

  4. When will Project Ara launch?
    Google announced plans to launch a Project Ara pilot program in Puerto Rico in 2015, partnering with carriers Claro and Open Mobile. The exact release dates are yet to be confirmed.

  5. Which companies are involved in Project Ara?
    Toshiba and Yezz are among the companies collaborating on Project Ara. Toshiba has developed processors and a camera module, while Yezz is creating various modules for the project.

  6. How much will an Ara phone cost?
    The pricing of a Project Ara phone will vary based on the selected components and carrier deals. While the total cost may differ from traditional handsets, users have the opportunity to personalize their spending.

  7. What are some potential drawbacks of Project Ara?
    Challenges such as battery life, efficiency, component compatibility, and durability have been raised regarding Project Ara. The open design may pose issues with waterproofing and maintenance, requiring users to handle replacements independently.

  8. Who is the target audience for Project Ara?
    Project Ara caters to tech enthusiasts and tinkerers who value customization and control over their device specifications. It may not appeal to users seeking a simple, all-in-one smartphone solution.

  9. What can we expect in the future of Project Ara?
    As Project Ara continues its development, updates and improvements are anticipated, including additional hardware support and advancements in modular technology.


Project Ara introduces a revolutionary concept in smartphone design, offering users the freedom to create personalized devices tailored to their preferences. By allowing individuals to select and combine specific components, Project Ara redefines the traditional approach to mobile technology. As the project evolves and expands, it holds the promise of transforming the way we perceive and interact with smartphones. For those intrigued by the idea of customizing their devices and exploring the endless possibilities of modular technology, Project Ara represents a gateway to a new era of smartphone innovation. Embrace the future of mobile technology with Project Ara and embark on a journey of endless customization possibilities. Join the movement today and shape the smartphone of tomorrow.