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Fonkraft - the first crowdsourced modular smartphone

By S21, 6 May 2015

For the past few years the technology world has eagerly awaited the emergence of the first mainstream and widely available modular phone, with Project Ara always thought to be the prophesied handset. Unfortunately for Google however, Project Ara looks to have been beaten to the finishing line by the Fonkraft handset.

A modular mobile

Funded by crowdsourcing site, Indiegogo, the phone might well be the only modular phone to be released this year, with the pilot handset costing a mere $100 in the United States. Although the majority of the components on the phone are basic, the one feature that is getting good feedback is the colossal 4100mAh battery, which is said to have the capacity to run for days.

But of course, the whole point of a modular handset is the ability to swap and change components, and like Project Ara, everything about it can be replaced on a whim - so if the 4100mAh battery seems excessive, the 2800mAh battery might just do.

But is Fonkraft enough to threaten the likes of Google?

Not quite.

Like many things in life, just because Fonkraft is the first modular phone on the market, it does not mean that it is the best.

Matt Hanson of TechRadar says that:

"Although Fonkraft has launched before Project Ara to claim the title of the world's first modular smartphone, Project Ara has a more recognisable name which means we might see wider support for Google's offering. Even so, Fonkraft plans to bring out more modules in the future, including a second SIM tray, extra antenna and 16-megapixel camera. In a similar move to Google, Fonkraft will allow third parties to build and sell their own modules."

That said, we haven’t actually heard anything from Project Ara for over three months now, when the project posted on its join the conversation page, which in itself, was only a roundup of the Project Ara Developers Conference (not exactly the big announcement we have all been waiting for).

But there has been news elsewhere, as it has been reported that Project Ara will be piloted in Puerto Rico later this year, after partnering with imgram Micro Mobility on forward logistics. Bashar Nejdawi, executive vice president, Ingram Micro and president, North America, Ingram Micro Mobility, said that:

"The modularity and versatility of Google's Project Ara will allow users to get exactly what they want from their device, even if that is always changing. The technology and customizable module options will continue to meet the consumer's device needs -- preventing the device from a fate of the junk drawer or worse, a landfill. We're excited to help this new category of smartphone take hold in the marketplace."

But what do retailers think of the coming wave of modular phones?

On one hand, it would be a great shame for one brand to take up an entire market and on the other, it would generate a lot of revenue for those trusted enough to design, produce and sell the product.

Sam Cleere of Mobile Phones Direct spoke to us and said:

"To be honest, we’re totally open to Project Ara and any other brand that wants to give modular phones a go. We're in a time and place where technology changes year upon year and retailers, as well as consumers, need to be prepared for that. It's very exciting."

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