Modular Phone and Removable Accessories Advantages

February 21, 2016

modular phone parts

It is said that the new LG G5 will have a modular design. What it means is, that if the G5 does, in fact, has this type of design, G5 owners will be able to use detachable/removable hardware modules that can extend the phone’s functionality. For example, you might have the option to use a large battery (at the cost of an extended depth), attach better speakers, change the built-in camera with a VR dual-lens setup, adding more function buttons to the back of the device, and so on.

If indeed LG Comes up with such a unique design, it can certainly bring a breath of fresh air to the stale situation that the mobile market resides in. We know for sure that we are going to see more powerful devices with an even better camera, but it seems that this market really needs innovation to shift it forward in fast pace again and ignite another innovation period.

There are already removable accessories that you can be attached to your camera, and most of those are covers, power packs to extend the battery life and add additional storage, lens attachments to the camera, etc. But those offer somewhat limited functionality because they are built by 3rd party manufacturers that are limited by the default connectivity. If LG comes up with a modular mobile phone, it can build those accessories with a unique mount/connector that can speak to other hardware components, and who knows, maybe make it open for other manufactures to produce 3rd party accessories to it (according to various unofficial online sources, this is the plan).

There might be several connection ports in different parts of the phone, each one that corresponds to a different hardware component, like one for the camera, another one for the battery and a custom one that can accept external accessories, other than the ones that can be connected to the USB port. Update: According to numerous unofficial sources, the LG G5 will come with a single user-customizable slot  (dubbed Magic Slot) at the bottom of the device. It said that LG will come up with its on in-house accessories, but it will be open for 3rd party accessory manufactures to build their own modules for the phone.

One of the great benefits of a modular phone is that you don’t have to buy a new or a second phone just to enjoy a specific feature that you really want to use. You pay only for that specific ‘functionality’ that that module offers. You can even sell it later if you don’t need it. For example, you buy a large battery module when you go on a trip, and you can sell it when coming back. I remember always being very frustrated seeing that there are two phones, each one has unique features that would really want to have. It was very hard for me to choose which phone to buy. A modular smartphone can solve many of these debates because you can buy two modules that give you those two functionalities. Of course, we are talking hardware solutions. The modular phone can do what the apps did to the conventional mobile phone by extending its functionality times fold.

There are many companies who make removable accessories for mobile phones. For example, Sony has the DSC-QX10, a detachable camera accessory that has a 1/2.3″ sensor and offers 10x optical zoom, but I think that a good way to attract buyers is to unify it in a certain way. That’s why I first thought that Apple would be the one to do it because Apple likes having its own proprietary hardware.

Of course, the modular hardware components will be fewer compared to apps because the cost of developing it (if it’s indeed will be offered to 3rd party vendors) is much higher and more complicated than developing a software solution.

Here are some of the the key advantages:

  • Unifying and branding the accessories to help promote the new phone
  • Offers added functionality at a lower cost (compared to purchasing a complete device just for that added feature)
  • Can be opened for 3rd party manufacturers to produce their own innovative modules
  • Have a modular interchangeable lens/sensor camera module that can extend the camera functionality times fold
  • Allows partial upgrades and continuous added functionality over time (compared to a device with static configuration)
  • Modules can be used in future phone as well (so these modules can also be used in future phones like the LG G6, G7, and so on)
  • Easy to swap a a module that becomes obsolete and upgrade to a newer one (also  cheaper)

Of course their can be tons of advantages, all depends on what these modules offer.  The larger the modules selection, the more advantages the LG G5 can have.
LG really needs that, because for me it seems that it doesn’t matter what LG comes up with, it always overshadowed by Samsung. I personally interested to see if the modular design has something to do with the camera as well. It would be so useful to have a modular optical zoom camera module, or in general, being able to change lenses with different focal lengths by just changing the camera module. We might have the option to shoot with an even larger sensor, but again, at the cost of a large bump on the back. This can turn the LG G5 to a slim and super versatile mirrorless camera. I think that if LG does that, I will be the first in line to buy the LG G5.

By the way, this isn’t the first attempt to build a modular phone. One of the current projects comes from Google and it’s called Project Ara. It comes with many modules. For more information visit projectara.com website.



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