Phonebloks may be the last smartphone you ever buy.

Phonebloks in-hand
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Avatar of Brian Crawford
by
on September 13, 2013
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Looking for a new smartphone? Well, there’s certainly no shortage of options on the market.

  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • HTC One
  • iPhone 5
  • Motorola Moto X
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega
  • LG Optimus G Pro
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • Nokia Lumia 925

There’s still more to choose from than that list. Kind of sickening in a way, isn’t it?

I don’t mean that in an inherently negative way, I am a tech nut, and I do love choices. However, given the recent announcement of the iPhone 5S and 5C, I realized just how impertinent some of these companies have become to customer interest. You want an upgraded chip? Here, blow $200 bucks on a new phone. Oh? You don’t have an available upgrade yet? That’ll be an arm and a fucking leg…and a first born (if applicable.)

Oh I was mistaken, you want the upgraded model, not the base model? Sorry, you can’t afford it. You don’t necessarily fill our slave camp requirements. (In the interest of candor, I would probably be the right fit for a slave camp, I’m big, dumb, and follow orders well.)

Every year or two, consumers worldwide dive into a new smartphone purchase. Upgraded speed, new screens, a slightly slimmer and lighter size, these are all reasons to spend enormous amounts of hard earned money on possibly the most innovative thing to come out of the 21st century. Yes, I do this too. I see something I want, and dammit when I want something, I get it. However, today I found myself reading an article on my iPhone, about the new iPhone 5S specs. (Which now that I think about it, is like using your girlfriend’s eyes to check out other girls.)

“Damn, it looks exactly like my iPhone.”

An internal debate had begun…then escalated in no time to a full scaled cerebral civil war.

One side of my brain unmistakably shouted, “but look at the new features! Fingerprint scanner? A7 chip? I mean c’mon. How could you NOT want to buy it you idiot!” The now thundering shouting in my head continued, “look at that 5C! Shit! Pretty colors all over that bitch!”

(I’ll never dispute the disparaging attitude of my internal voice.)

The voice of reason retorted, “I…I just don’t think it’ll be worth the upgrade, besides, I don’t even have an upgrade available…”

Sensing the frailty behind the argument, what I’ve now coined as ‘the asshole in my head,’ attacked with a salvo of degrading statements.

“Upgrade? Motherfucker you got that brand new credit card tucked not two feet away under your hefty ass!”

For your, and my, sanity’s sake, I’ll stop that stirring tale of battling self-consciousness’ right there. Besides, I’d finally realized I’d been staring, immobile, at my phone for a long enough time to garner suspicion from the people sitting around me during lunch.

I have the feeling this intrapersonal fight was not limited to my brain, and in coming weeks, will be flowing from many homes and offices alike. Why get this new iteration of essentially the same product? Yes, it had different internals, but an incredibly vapid design compared to other models. A non-eligible upgrade though? You’ll probably spend near $700…for the base model. The ‘affordable’ version is still $550 unlocked, which I would guess to be close to a non-eligible upgrade price.

The messed up part is that it’s not even an iPhone exclusive issue. Its biggest competitors has the same lackadaisical upgrade structures.

components

However, what if you could combine what you loved about every smartphone, customize the features you love, and upgrade to your infinite desire, without ever having to get an entirely new phone? Someone upgraded their phone’s camera? Just get the upgraded lens. Better processor? Slap on the new one and fire it up. Like a phone made out of Legos. How awesome would that be? Well, an entrepreneurial young designer in the Netherlands may have just come up with something that awesome.

Dave Hakkens has started a campaign to get companies to notice his new idea, Phonebloks. His idea is a revolutionary one which actually shows benefit for any company willing to work with it, and any consumer wanting to get it. It is essentially a phone that can be built, dissected, and re-built by the customer, in their own personal vision.

change_component

Just want a good camera on your phone? You could theoretically hook up a Nokia kit, Nikon, or maybe even a Canon kit if the companies choose to make a lens for it. Love Apple’s patented A7 processor, but want a screen the size of a Galaxy Note II? Put them together. Each company makes money from their best products, and you never have to buy a totally new phone just for one new feature.

Interestingly, it seems as though Hakkens didn’t necessarily come up with his idea because of consumer interests, although he does recognize the huge potential in his press release.

“Every year millions of mobile phones are thrown away because they are broken or obsolete. In most of these cases it is just one part that needs repairing or upgrading and all the other parts work fine. However, the entire phone will be thrown out because of one reason: mobile phones are not designed for repairs or upgrades.”

phonebloks_open

Ever have the iPhone screen break, only to be told it’ll be over $100 just to have the work done to it? With this phone, you just buy the part, take out two screws and do it yourself in your dorm, office, or home.

Sounds like a swell deal to me.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t yet have principal investors, and he has decided against using Kickstarter or any site of the like.

Why? He has the foresight to realize this would need not only backers to fund it, but companies to build third party hardware for it. He is, however, still planning to create a ton of buzz using something called Thunderclap.

It’s basically a non-monetary commitment that uses social media spread to simultaneously share the product idea to a wide breadth of people, with the intent of showing companies that enough people are interested to make it a worthwhile investment.

Here’s to hoping it works, Dave.

Join the others promoting Phoneblocks via Thunderclap here.

  • GingerNutz

    Seems legit.

  • Pranav

    Lumia, not lumina