Motorola made waves back in October when it announced Project Ara, its new effort to create a new platform that would allow consumers to purchase modular smartphones that could be upgraded piece by piece. Moto's not the only company that's chasing the modular handset dream, though, as ZTE today revealed its own modular smartphone project at CES 2014.
Dubbed Eco-Mobius, ZTE's effort has a goal that's similar to Motorola's Project Ara: Allow consumers to upgrade their phones one piece at a time, which will reduce the amount of perfectly good components that end up in the trash. A ZTE USA executive explained to PCMag that the display, core, battery and and memory of Eco-Mobius products are upgradable. The parts attach to the phone using a magnetic connection and are easy to snap out and back into place.
The Eco-Mobius prototype being shown off by ZTE features a clear backside so that its solid black internals can easily be seen, but the units could also feature a solid silver rear. As far as a public launch goes, ZTE says that it's currently just researching Eco-Mobius and modular smartphones and that it has no concrete plans to unleash its project on the public. If it does, though, ZTE says that it may end up making all of the smartphone parts itself.
Modular smartphones that consumers can upgrade one part at a time are a pretty intriguing idea. Not only could the hardware help reduce waste, it could also save users money and give them the freedom to get exactly the type of handset that best fits their needs. Unfortunately, modular smartphones seem to be a ways off from hitting the mainstream, as ZTE is still in the research phase and Motorola is planning to kick off the alpha version of its Modular Development Kit sometime this winter. It's still exciting to see companies chasing the modular smartphone dream, though, and hopefully their efforts begin to bear fruit sooner rather than later. Until that happens, you can find more images of ZTE's Eco-Mobius prototype at the link below.