Your future phone may be a lot like Mr. Potato Head—just pull out the camera and pop in a better one. Slide out a shattered screen, slide in a fresh one. That’s the crux of modular design.
The G5 is a first stab at this idea. Press a button and its bottom half slides out so you can attach modules, what LG calls “Friends.” The issue? Right now it feels like a gimmick. The most exciting option, a $70 camera grip with a zoom control and an extra battery, only makes existing touchscreen actions more ergonomic. I doubt this one will take off, but perhaps LG’s plan to open module design to outside developers will help.
I get more excited about building my own smartphone when I look at Google’s Project Ara. Early prototypes had a more flexible design, where a simple frame allows you to snap on essentials you choose: screen, battery, Wi-Fi chip, camera. You could get specialized add-ons, too, like a thermometer—even a breathalyzer."
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