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Cellphones Android Handhelds Hardware Hacking Upgrades Build

Hands-On With the Fairphone 2 Modular Android Smartphone (arstechnica.com) 107

An anonymous reader writes: In just a couple of months, the world's first consumer-ready modular smartphone will start shipping. It's called the Fairphone 2, and it will run Android 5.1. Ars Technica got hands-on time with the device, and they say it works surprisingly well. It's a bit thicker than most modern phones, but that's the trade-off for being able to swap out components. "The smartphone consists of seven major building blocks: the back cover, removable battery, display assembly, main chassis, receiver module, rear camera module, and speaker module. Positioned this way, the components that break most often, like the screen, are isolated for better repairability. In addition to swappable blocks, you can even change things inside the modules: for example, a mic or a speaker. They are press-fit, not glued, and can be extracted with simple tools."

Assembly and disassembly is pretty straightforward, as well: "The modules are held together by Phillips screws marked with blue circles. All screws are the same, so you won't have to remember which one goes where. It's quite hard to make a mistake in the assembling process, however Fairphone promises to release additional manuals and video instructions in collaboration with iFixit." The company also thinks it's important to get the phone's materials and components from ethical sources.

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Hands-On With the Fairphone 2 Modular Android Smartphone

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  • Seriously I don't see this as any better than a run of the mill Samsung phone (the Galaxy S6 series with the non-removable back excluded). The number of modular components look about the same as when I replaced the microphone board on my Galaxy S4. So what is the point of this? It looks far less modular than Project Ara and I see little benefit over other commercial phones, especially when something breaks on a typical iPhone you can just go to an Apple store and have it repaired / swapped quite cheaply / f

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @07:06AM (#50786461)

      Personally, I'd find it attractive just for having a removable (and therefore also replaceable) battery, which is something a lot of the recent generation of smartphones don't have. Batteries for mobile devices degrade over time.

      There may be potential privacy/security advantages to this sort of modular system as well, which for some people could be significant. For example, my company normally won't surrender an electronic device that could have had sensitive data stored on it. If such a device breaks and can't be repaired without losing custody of it, it's securely destroyed and replaced. This more often affects things like hard drives, and therefore creates a bias towards business-grade suppliers who understand the restriction and won't expect a dead drive to be returned. However, a mobile device where say a broken screen or failed battery could be replaced without having to give up the whole phone complete with potential access credentials to a company VPN or sensitive customer data could also be more attractive for the same reason.

      • For example, my company normally won't surrender an electronic device that could have had sensitive data stored on it.

        Does anybody make phones with socketed eMMC for their main storage? That would solve this problem neatly.

        • Indeed, but as far as I know none of the big name smartphones have that sort of option at the moment (though I'd be happy to discover I've overlooked one that does). If anything, the big brands all seem to be pushing as hard as possible in the other direction, with as close as they can get to no external connectivity except wirelessly via their own preferred services/networks/whatever. They're pretty much stuck with having a power cable, but if routine wireless charging becomes viable I expect your phone wi

          • They're pretty much stuck with having a power cable, but if routine wireless charging becomes viable I expect your phone will be a completely sealed unit in hardware, software and ecosystem as fast as the likes of Apple can get it there.

            Why drag Apple into this? Just to get a cheap dig in?

            Grow up, hater.

            • Purely objectively, Apple has the most closed combination of hardware, software and ecosystem of any mobile platform, and it always has had, and the trend is clearly further in that direction including with the battery issue we're discussing here. I'm not "dragging Apple into this". They dragged themselves into it by making themselves by some way the best example of my point.

              • Purely objectively, Apple has the most closed combination of hardware, software and ecosystem of any mobile platform, and it always has had, and the trend is clearly further in that direction including with the battery issue we're discussing here. I'm not "dragging Apple into this". They dragged themselves into it by making themselves by some way the best example of my point.

                I think you are focusing on the wrong adjective.

                Instead of "most closed", perhaps you mean "best thought-out". Seriously. Apple always maintained that the problem with replaceable batteries is that they take up too much space; space that could otherwise be filled with battery.

                And so, after all this time, perhaps the other manufacturers are coming to the conclusion that maybe Apple was right after all, and the space you lose on battery-wells and connectors, and the design flexibility you lose trying to m

                • Well, as I mentioned in another post, I've personally seen significant battery degradation in Apple gear much less than that age, so frankly I don't think their technology is as exceptional as you're making out.

                  But the thing is, even if we ignore that, and we ignore the mountain of other evidence that Apple tries to build in obsolescence and make its equipment hard to maintain in the long run, it still remains true that any failure in an Apple mobile device is a failure of the entire unit. Since swapping it

      • Personally, I'd find it attractive just for having a removable (and therefore also replaceable) battery, which is something a lot of the recent generation of smartphones don't have. Batteries for mobile devices degrade over time.

        Although that is definitely the case with cheap-ass batteries and cheap-ass charging circuits built into cheap-ass phones, and I am sure that there is some sort of measurable decrease in life in any secondary battery over time, in my experience with iOS devices (iPhone 4s, iPhone 6 plus, and iPad 2), not one of them has shown any apparent loss in battery life over the time I have had them. Even my iPad 2 still delivers at least 10 hours of typical browsing/email use, and I use it almost that much every sing

        • Whereas for example the 3rd generation iPad I have on the desk next to me gets noticeably worse battery life today than it had when new. It could just be that the newer version of iOS now running on it is bad at power management, but given the steady degradation over time rather than a sharp drop after updating the software, decaying battery performance seems a far more plausible explanation.

          YMMV, but even if it does, physics is still physics.

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          My first-gen iPod Touch had a dead battery within two years -- dead, as in runtime measured in minutes instead of hours.

          It didn't survive battery replacement surgery.

          I haven't had another iOS device since, or any other device with a ridiculously-buried battery.

          (Anecdotes are fun!)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point is not just that the phone is easier to repair. Fairphone included an interface that links with the back cover. This way the phone can be extended by changing the cover for one with, for example, an NFC chip.

      The point of the Fairphone is that they strife to minimalise slave labor in the product and use materials that are better for the environment or can be recycled.

      Also, if you can't open the phone: if it is broken, you have to replace it.

      Fairphone tries to create a phone that is more durable and

      • by phayes ( 202222 )

        So they are trying to break the throw-away culture and improve the world a little bit :-)

        Meh, I'm far from convinced that modular (with it's attendant connectors links & interfaces) is better.

        I can remember pulling vacuum tubes out of the TV when it stored having problems and taking the lot down to the electronics shop so that we could plug them into the test station. Being able to test every last circuit may bring back fond memories to some but connector related problems have always been a significant part of the reasons that things don't work.

        The general movement towards global integratio

        • Most of your points I agree with, but I do take issue with this one:

          I also see little difference between using an external battery pack to recharge my phone when it gets low & swapping batteries. My son has a phone with a removable battery that he has changed twice & yet he still has to use an external battery to get through the day.

          Here's the difference: Once the phone is a couple of years old, then the original battery doesn't hold a charge as well as it used to. If you have a removable battery, you can replace it with a new one, sometimes even with a higher capacity than the original battery.

          • Having to use an external battery back totally defeats the purpose of having a small portable device. I would shoot myself if I bought a device that couldn't go a day of normal use without being able to pop in a battery freshly charged by an external charger. Right now I have a Galaxy S3 and I cycle between two batteries. Changing the battery is 10 seconds of inconvenience and then you have your fully pocket able device back again.
            • by phayes ( 202222 )

              Yeah, I can see how people that only have a single small pocket that that would be a problem so severe that they would actually have to shoot themselves were they to use an external charger. Yeah, you wouldn't ever want to help a friend that uses a device with a different battery, the HORROR!

              • I'm just saying, what's the point of having an expensive small portable device if you have to have a cable and a box dangling from it on a regular basis. It's like giving birth and not cutting the cord.
                • by phayes ( 202222 )

                  Your hyperbole filled first post was well deserving of my mockery.

                  If you want to be reasonable now, well, first off, nobody needs to carry around a supplementary battery ALL the time, whether the phone has an replaceable battery or not. Secondly, That some people find carrying a replacement battery (Only reachable by swapping batteries or at home) suffices for their needs, certainly. However, as I have pointed out carrying an external battery pack than can be charged anywhere (USB sockets are ubiquitous)

                  • What phone charges in a few minutes?
                    • by phayes ( 202222 )

                      Why do you think that people only need a complete charge? Never seen anyone notice that their phone was nearly dead 10 minutes before they left? 10 minutes in which they can bring their phone from 10% to 30 - 40%?

                      On the other hand, with you shooting yourself in the head in despair for using an external battery, I don't suppose that you would remember much of anything now would you...

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            It's anecdotal but for two phones bought at the roughly same time, my son has changed the battery for manufacture's recommended unit in his phone twice. My daughter still used my old iphone4s with the original battery until she lost it 3 months ago yet the replacement batteries didn't give my son an advantage. Both of them carry around an external battery.

            Carrying around a spare removable battery is also less useful. You need to turn the phone off/on to use it and if you're already carrying around USB cable

      • The point is not just that the phone is easier to repair. Fairphone included an interface that links with the back cover. This way the phone can be extended by changing the cover for one with, for example, an NFC chip.

        The point of the Fairphone is that they strife to minimalise slave labor in the product and use materials that are better for the environment or can be recycled.

        Also, if you can't open the phone: if it is broken, you have to replace it.

        Fairphone tries to create a phone that is more durable and usable for a longer period of time (not just two years). If you want a better camera after two years, that is probably possible by replacing the camera module with a better one.

        So they are trying to break the throw-away culture and improve the world a little bit :-)

        And just how much do you think that "better camera" will be?

        My Spidey Sense says that it will be about 2/3 the cost of replacing an entire "sealed" phone. For one thing, this is a VERY "niche" product; therefore the economies of scale (or lack thereof) will be working against the consumer that buys into this product. Second, the individual modules will have to cost more than the component-level parts they replace, if for no other reason than to pay for the mold design for the housings for each "module", a

        • I don't know how much it will be, or if I really care - I'm not big on pics. But my first thought was that third parties will be offering knock off replacements at knock off prices.

          Of course, other third parties can be offer replacement cameras with Carl Zeiss optical zoom lenses and more pixels than you can count at a price that would be considerably more than the original phone.

          The phone reminds me a bit of the old Handspring [pcstats.com] PDAs with the expansion slot.

      • So they are trying to break the throw-away culture and improve the world a little bit :-)

        My point was the throwaway culture is a cultural thing not a technical problem with devices. Even if you can't pull your iPhone apart there are still people who will repair broken screens, and I gave my example of fixing my microphone (which was a small clip on module in the Galaxy S4).

    • Many things. For example, in this design nothing prevents me from using a battery with twice the capacity (and thickness) as the format is standardized it easier to find the battery you want and a back cover to accommodate the extra volume. I can put a more advanced camera than would be economically viable to a mass-produced mobile phone, I can put additional devices that do not exist in a common cellphone only specifying that such devices have the same format as one of several device slots. It's like being
      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        Just keep in mind that you can do that if someone makes a more advanced camera for it. If this ends up being a sideshow, no one is likely to do that.

        It's not that easy to make a good camera. And someone has to make the more advanced software for the more advanced camera, too.

        Not saying it can't happen, but it's not a given, just because the phone is modular. I wish it were.

      • Many things. For example, in this design nothing prevents me from using a battery with twice the capacity (and thickness) as the format is standardized it easier to find the battery you want and a back cover to accommodate the extra volume. I can put a more advanced camera than would be economically viable to a mass-produced mobile phone, I can put additional devices that do not exist in a common cellphone only specifying that such devices have the same format as one of several device slots. It's like being able to mount your phone as if it were a personal desktop computer.

        All these things would be practical if the entire cellphone industry got on board with the "modular" concept.

        However, the chance of that happening is essentially less than zero; because not only will the rest of the cellphone OEMs not come anywhere near this idea (nor will any third parties jump in); but Fairfield themselves will quickly go out of business, stranding their vict... er, customers with whatever hardware modules they happen to have.

      • Many things. For example, in this design nothing prevents me from using a battery with twice the capacity (and thickness) as the format is standardized it easier to find the battery you want and a back cover to accommodate the extra volume.

        Funny you should mention this. I did this on my original Galaxy S and my partner did it on her Galaxy S2. At the time I looked you could get larger (physically as well as capacity) batteries for any devices and they were sold with after market back covers.

        I can put a more advanced camera than would be economically viable to a mass-produced mobile phone,

        So just like project Ara? And just like project Ara the common critique is that the number of people something like this appeals to can probably be counted on one hand.

        I can put additional devices that do not exist in a common cellphone only specifying that such devices have the same format as one of several device slots. It's like being able to mount your phone as if it were a personal desktop computer.

        So just like project Ara?

    • So what is the point of this? It looks far less modular than Project Ara

      The difference is that Project Ara is still a vague project between Google, Motorola and a few others.
      Whereas FairPhone2 is a phone that is currently shipping (despite some delays compared to the initially planned time schedule) and already in the hand of the first lucky few (e.g.: the community at Jolla has a few phones to try porting Sailfish OS on them).

      I see little benefit over other commercial phones, especially when something breaks on a typical iPhone you can just go to an Apple store and have it repaired / swapped quite cheaply / free depending on the fault.

      Except that, this being Apple, the experience of the few friend who have iPhones tells me that 4 months later they're already out of stock of spares, and

  • With "2420 mAh at 3.8V (9.2 Wh)", the battery life will surely suck. I have 3100 mAh, that's a reasonably sized battery.
    • Right, because all phones consume power at exactly the same rate.
    • With "2420 mAh at 3.8V (9.2 Wh)", the battery life will surely suck. I have 3100 mAh, that's a reasonably sized battery.

      Your battery has all of 28% more capacity, assuming that what it says on the tin is correct. The difference is significant, but not dramatic.

      • For me, I just want my phone to last a full day, day after day, after being plugged in while I sleep. 28% more right now would get me there, so that would be huge for me personally.
      • It's between 0.5 to 1 day(s) more/less battery life, assuming the usual battery life of 2 to 4 days with the 3100 mAh one.
  • People would do well to remember what can happen when trying to avoid "conflict materials". See this article from The Guardian [theguardian.com].

    A lot of these so-called "fair trade" efforts are marketing gimmicks and come from the "let them eat cake" school of thinking of rich and naive Westerners.

    • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

      What's your point, exactly? That since doing the right thing the wrong way has unintended consequences beyond our control, we should say fuck it and turn a blind eye?

      • So your point is apparently that as long as your intentions are good and doing something makes you feel good and noble, you don't really whether it has unintended consequences and results in people suffering or dying. My point is that you should care about the consequences of your actions and their unintended consequences, because whether real people end up suffering matters a lot more than whether you feel good about yourself.

        My more general point is also that you should think critically. Fairphone is an e

        • I think the operative word in your first paragraph is "unintended". If it's known upfront things can be done differently (or not at all). Yeah people like to feel good about themselves, but that doesn't mean good deeds for the sake of real altruism isn't real.
          • I think the operative word in your first paragraph is "unintended". If it's known upfront things can be done differently (or not at all).

            "Unintended" doesn't mean "unexpected". In this case, the consequences may be unintended, but they shouldn't be unexpected, in particular after reading and thinking about the issues a bit.

            Yeah people like to feel good about themselves, but that doesn't mean good deeds for the sake of real altruism isn't real.

            If you receive more benefit from an act than it costs you, it cea

        • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

          My point (on which we probably agree) is that you should still strive to do the right thing even if you get it wrong initially. Outcomes are never certain; to some extent you're always rolling the dice, and you roll even when you know things might turn out badly. So if there unintended consequences, you try harder, you don't just give up and pretend that inaction to maintain the status quo doesn't equally have pretty horrendous consequences.

          • My point (on which we probably agree) is that you should still strive to do the right thing even if you get it wrong initially.

            Obviously you should do the right thing if you know what it is. But what is the right thing? We can't even agree in the US on the costs and benefits of basic economic questions like minimum wage or taxes. What kind of hubris leads people to believe that we can figure out whether doing business with this-or-that group in a war torn third world country is actually hurting or helping p

            • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

              If one believes what they say on their site (which, from what you say, you don't; that's fair enough, it's all written in marketingese so I have my doubts too), then they're more or less doing what you suggest: continuing to do business with the DRC, but trying to do it in a "fair trade" way (i.e. directly with the producers on the ground) so as to subvert the structures that make conflict materials problematic:

              https://www.fairphone.com/road... [fairphone.com]
              Passed in 2010, the Dodd Frank Act addresses tantalum, tin, tung

              • continuing to do business with the DRC, but trying to do it in a "fair trade" way (i.e. directly with the producers on the ground) so as to subvert the structures that make conflict materials problematic:

                What "structures" would that be, specifically? Where is the evidence that they are "subverting" the structures?

                Do you think people engaged in violent civil war are just going to say "oh, well, let's go home"? The most obvious consequence for these people is to force the "producers on the ground" to give up

    • Fairphone's website specifically mentions sourcing minerals from Congo and the US law that the guardian refers to.

      whether these guys are part of the problem or the solution, I'll let you be the judge.

      https://www.fairphone.com/road... [fairphone.com]

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I could make a, presumably, well-reasoned argument that we should be sending money to conflict zones as it, may, help those who are most seriously in need while also having detrimental effects because the money, may, go to furthering the war. Would you rather be hungry or better/well-fed when the rebel troops roll through your village and kill one out of every ten males? They might be less likely to kill/maim those working in the factory or mines. Sure, it's hell - but is it a lesser hell if there's some mo

      • Yes, I think they are trying to turn lemon into lemonade: Dodd Frank requires them to disclose their sources, they get their metals from DRC, and so they write pages and pages about how they intend to do so responsibly. It's hard to tell what they actually end up doing, but I don't see any evidence that they are any more "fair" than other companies.

    • This statement in the article really popped out for me.

      "As it sought to comply with the law, Congo’s government shut down the mining industry for months. Then, a process was launched to certify the country’s minerals as conflict-free. But the process is unfolding at a glacial pace, marred by a lack of political will, corruption and bureaucratic and logistical delays."

      So in essence, they're blaming the US for their own governments inability to get their shit together and... you know... govern.

      • Yeah, worse than that:

        "But the miners still get $4 per kilo [before the law they got $7]. That’s because there are only a few trading houses in the provincial capital, Bukavu, due to the limited supply of tagged minerals and delays in providing government licences to buy them, miners and community leaders said. The houses fix the price, they added."

        Okay so in addition to the government's 'inability' to certify more mines, they are also turning a blind eye to price cartels that are using the situation

  • by abies ( 607076 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @07:27AM (#50786557)

    Best part of it is transparent back cover. This way, everybody around can see how cool you are for building your own phone. Even if it is as complicated as putting together 6-part Duplo duck.
    Ethical sources part only confirms diagnosis - it is targeted at holier-than-thou vegan hipsters, rather than on hacking/modding community.

    • Put a black/opaque back cover on your unit, problem solved. Which part of the sentence "modular design" you do not understand?
      • by abies ( 607076 )

        My point is that this seems to be tailored towards people who want to show how cool they are because they tinker with their phone, rather than for actual tinkering. Default transparent cover and emphasis on ethical sources are my proofs for that, rather than problems themselves. If I put black back cover and steal candy from child in India, this won't make Fairphone as a product any less 'hipster'. I will be just left with expensive underpowered phone and will actually have to tell people I have assembled m

    • Best part of it is transparent back cover. This way, everybody around can see how cool you are for building your own phone. Even if it is as complicated as putting together 6-part Duplo duck.

      But is it as cool as taking apart a digital clock and putting it into a suitcase?

    • Even if it is as complicated as putting together 6-part Duplo duck.

      That's the whole point of the module. That even the dumbest end-users could be able to sevice the phone.
      The previous one used screws and required a tiny bit more dexterity to fix [ifixit.com].

      Ethical sources part only confirms diagnosis

      ...was conflict-free minerals all the way back at the time of their first phone. That's what FairPhone was founded for.

      The news is that the 2nd one is modular to make it even easier to fix. (Whereas with the previous, they just made sure that the ODM used screws instead, and then partnered with iFixit to release fixing guide).

      it is targeted at holier-than-thou vegan hipsters, rather than on hacking/modding community.

      The m

    • by Chozabu ( 974192 )
      really? you don't sound that representative of the "hacking/modding community"
      Transparent back cover... that's nice. Not amazing, but will probably get them talked about a little more without so much forced PR.
      They are *trying* to be ethical by investigating their supply line and not buying from suppliers who don't support slavery? Great! No hacker supports slavery!

      It may not be totally focused on hackers/modders - which is fine. It's a modular phone that we should be able to replace/repair/home-make
  • Who _else?_ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @08:09AM (#50786795) Homepage Journal

    This would be a lot more exciting when some other manufacturers do the same thing in a compatible form factor. Then you'd get a handheld the same way you get a desktop: go buy just the right parts for your situation.

    "A Fairphone screen, a Foomeister I motherboard, a used Sorny RadioNIC that I found on eBay, a Brand X battery and oops I guess I didn't even bother with a camera on this one. Oh well, I didn't need one here. Wait, I just remembered have a 5 year old one sitting in a drawer, let's just throw that in." Later: "Shit, it got obsolete: time for a Foomeister II+ board, which has enough RAM to run the newest release of Netbuntroid."

    But the only way we'll get there, is if this sells well enough that other manufacturers see a market for the form factor. It's hard to be optimistic about that.

    • But the only way we'll get there, is if this sells well enough that other manufacturers see a market for the form factor. It's hard to be optimistic about that.

      The truth is that phones are so cheap now that adding a bunch of connectors and having to support all that crap is just going to add so much cost that there's no point whatsoever. This will continue until the components shrink so much (through integration, process shrinks, technological advances, etc.) that the phones actually have to be made bigger than they need to be so that people can hold them. Then you can have your modular phone ecosystem, because then the handset makers will be willing to sacrifice

      • "The truth is that phones are so cheap now"

        Only on the "first world". Below the Equator (except Australia) cellphones are always a expensive gadget.
        • Only on the "first world". Below the Equator (except Australia) cellphones are always a expensive gadget.

          For people not in the first world or modern equivalent, they're not going to pay extra for a modular phone anyway.

          • If you read the blog [fairphone.com], you see that the WHOLE MAIN POINT of the modularity is to extend the life cycle of the phone.

            By making it either easy to fix (FairPhone 1) or even modular (TFA's FairPhone 2)
            - it makes it much more easy to repair
            - much more easy to refurbish.

            Thus there's a higher chance that, once you want to buy some other new phone, your old phone can be repaired/refurbished/dismantled for spares to refurbish other phone, and will find its way eventually into the hands of someone in a developing coun

      • by c ( 8461 )

        This will continue until the components shrink so much ... that the phones actually have to be made bigger than they need to be so that people can hold them.

        There's an argument that this is already happening with phones... witness complaints like "you introduced a camera bulge rather than a smooth back and a bigger battery?!?" about the iPhone 6. Bendgate was a lot of nonsense, but one of the main points was that flat and thin isn't an optimal shape for something you stick in a pocket. There's physical room

    • "A Fairphone screen, a Foomeister I motherboard, a used Sorny RadioNIC that I found on eBay, a Brand X battery and oops I guess I didn't even bother with a camera on this one. Oh well, I didn't need one here. Wait, I just remembered have a 5 year old one sitting in a drawer, let's just throw that in." Later: "Shit, it got obsolete: time for a Foomeister II+ board, which has enough RAM to run the newest release of Netbuntroid."

      Then you'd get a handheld the same way you get a desktop: go buy just the right parts for your situation....

      I don't really understand why this sounds enticing. You have reminded me of why over the last few years I've avoided OS upgrades, kept lots of computers around, and hoarded tons of computer gear. I'm just not convinced that's how I want to manage a device I have higher expectations of in terms of up-time.

    • Right, I've always wanted to make having a cell phone as much of a hassle as building a gaming computer.

    • Eventually, upgradeability as you describe seem to be on their roadmap.

      But for now, the whole point of the modularity is to make it even simpler than before to fix (FairPhone1 was screw + iFixit guide. FairPhone2 is just lego).

      Makes it easier to repair your phone if its get broken.

      And if you decide to change to another new phone (iPhone 7, now with 7% more Shiny(tm) !!! ), modularity makes it even more likely that your old phone will get repaired/refurbished/dismantled for spares to refurbish another phone,

  • by BadgerRush ( 2648589 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @08:20AM (#50786873)

    If they play their cards right, pushing this as an open platform to attract third party module makers, this could be huge and bring a variety of "personalized" features to niche markets. This could be a little bit like the IBM PC in the early days, where companies or people with specific needs can buy a standard platform but then expand it with one specific module to cater to their needs. Imagine a big company that currently needs many of its employees to carry an expensive custom made device, and then could replace all of those devices for a fair phone with just a less expensive custom made module.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 )
    I suppose I can see the benefit of modularity for maintaining a device if a piece of it breaks. But that adds bulk, and to the cost of the handset in total. And I doubt it makes the device reusable or future proof. The article even ends by expressing doubt about backwards / forwards compatibility on that score.
  • There are some nice concepts, but excluding the US does them no favors.

  • This needs a nice clean keyboard to attach to it.
  • I am not a smart phone user , but my children are. Main failures to date are screens (drops, bumps, door closure in car; dead non-replaceable battery), if these could be repaired by any competant person e.g. partner, neighbour, local repair man, without surrendereing the phone; I see a market. Likewise a business with in-house repair to avoid external overlooking while repairing. However 5 years life seems to me to be too short. I have changed phones at 10-year interval. However we only use it for actual c

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