We have seen an incredible line-up of smartphones released this year, from the funky LG G Flex to the almost-not Motorola Nexus 6, not to mention everything in between. Smartphones from all types of platforms have made headlines this year, so whether you’re a platform loyalist or not, everyone has had something to look forward to in 2014. Now that the year is practically over in terms of new releases, at least when it comes to flagships, it’s time for those who have waited to start making decisions. Do you purchase one of the many fabulous new smartphones that have appeared on the market, or do you hold out until next year?
Holding out until next year isn’t a bad idea if you’re not entirely sold on any of this year’s line-up. It’s hard to argue that this year’s line-up was too drab, but for some people, waiting until something truly incredible hits the market is what they’re waiting for. When it comes to smartphones in 2015, Project Ara is shaping up to be the solution for people who have been waiting for that next “innovative” smartphone.
Project Ara is something I’ve had my eye on since the idea was first discussed back in 2013, known merely as “Phonebloks” for a brief period of time before the idea was taken under Google’s wing. As the intial name suggests, Project Ara is basically a phone made out of different modules - or “blocks” - that are interchangeable through time. Camera, processor, internal memory, battery, and screen will just be some of the features that one will be able to switch out whenever they please, supposedly saving time, money, and even e-waste over what could be years of usage.
It’s too soon to say whether Project Ara will be a success or a flop. The idea is innovative for the industry, of course, but just because it’s new doesn’t mean that it’s foolproof. For many people, the idea of “building” your own smartphone is exciting; for others, it’s a daunting task. It’s like trying to build a computer when you don’t know anything about computers, or trying to fix up a car when you don’t know anything about cars. You don’t want to mess with something that’s such an important part of our daily lives and risk somehow breaking it.
But hopefully Project Ara makes it easy on the general consumer. If switching modules out is as simple as that, it’s a good first start. Things will be even better if they give people the tools to understand which modules do what. The nice thing about smartphones is that, despite their similarity to computers, they’re much smaller and easier to work with, so perhaps Project Ara won’t be all that scary after all.
For the rest of us, the idea of being able to essentially build your own smartphone is awesome. No, you probably won’t be able to have the biggest battery and the best processor and a huge amount of internal memory and a magnificent camera, but you can probably get pretty close - and at least if you have to cut corners, you get to decide which corners to cut. As of right now, that’s up to the manufacturer. So maybe you love everything about a certain phone, but the manufacturer skimped on the processing power and slows it down, and that’s a deal-breaker for you. Maybe you would have rather had less internal storage, or a slightly smaller battery. With Project Ara, making those decisions on your own will be possible. That’s the cool part.
There are a lot of reasons to like Project Ara, but there’s also that one big downside - upkeep and maintenance is under your own wing. Because of that, I don’t think Ara would wipe out smartphones in their current state. There’s a certain level of convenience that comes with having a premade phone, including knowing that it works (and if it doesn’t, you have at least a year under manufacturer warranty to ensure that it does). With that being said, knowing that something as unique and customizable as Project Ara is coming in (allegedly) just a few short months is pretty exciting as well.
So with that in mind, readers, what are your plans? Do you plan to purchase a phone that was already released this year, or are you holding out in hopes that Project Ara arrives early next year?