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PuzzlePhone Modular Smartphone Gains Spanish Modular Tech

Google’s Project Ara is the best known modular smartphone effort, but those who want a simpler concept would do well to look up the PuzzlePhone.

A Finnish company by the name of Circular Devices is working on a simple modular smartphone concept which will enable owners to combine a CPU module, battery module, and a screen into a smartphone.

puzzlephoneLike the Project Ara, the Puzzlephone can be upgraded piecemeal, and Circular Devices hopes to offer multiple screen size options.

The Puzzlephone crossed my desk this week with the news that it would be adopting ImasD’s ARM (Advanced Removable Modules) tech for its CPU module.

ImasD is a Spanish company working on a modular tablet, the Click-Arm One. Just announced this week, the Click-Arm One will feature a 10″ screen, a CPU module based on a Samsung Exynos 4412 CPU with 2GB RAM, other modular electronics including a 16GB Flash storage module, and up to 4 miniPCIe card slots.

The Click-Arm One is a much more complicated concept, so I don’t think that it will share many modules in common with the Puzzlephone, ImasD and Circular Devices have radically different approaches to the modular electronics; one is going for as minimalist approach while the other is going for an excess.

backview[1]

Frankly, I’m surprised that they will even be able to share the CPU module.

Circular Devices last got attention in January when they proposed that users could recycle their old PuzzlePhone CPU modules as cores in modular supercomputers. Given that there is no actual PuzzlePhone prototype, that plan is still literally on the drawing board.

In addition to ImasD,  Circular Devices also announced several other branding and tech partners, such as Grant4Com, AT&SFraunhofer IZM andOgilvyOne Barcelona. These partnerships, according to Circular Devices CEO Alejandro Santacreu, have the company on track to bring the PuzzlePhone to market later this year.

And that’s going to make 2015 a very interesting year.

Between Project Ara, Sole NotebookXO Infinity, the Click-Arm One, and now the PuzzlePhone, 2015 is looking to be the year of modular gadgetry.

If even half these gadgets ship then I could well go bankrupt trying to keep up. What fun.

Liliputing,  The Next Web

Fonkraft Challenges Project Ara With a $99 Modular Smartphone

Google may have recruited much of the mobile device industry to support Project Ara, but that hasn’t stopped independent efforts to develop modular smartphones.

Late last year a Finnish phone maker announced the Puzzlephone, and now another modular smartphone project launched on Indiegogo.

Pitched as the world’s first crowd-sourced modular smartphone, Fonkraft is a 5″ Android smartphone with a modular screen, CPU, battery, etc. It’s built around a frame which will let owners pull individual components and replace them with upgrades, or re-purpose their phones for alternate uses.

The Fonkraft is now up for pre-order on Indiegogo. For $99 you can get budget model powered by a dual-core 1.3Ghz CPU with 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, and a dual-core GPU.

That’s not a bad smartphone for the price, and if you want a more powerful unit you can spring for the Fonkraft Resolution or the Fonkraft HiFi. Both models run have a higher resolution screen (1920 x 1080) and run Android on a quad-core 2.5GHz CPU with 2GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a quad-core GPU.

The HiFi’s design features a high quality speaker unit, while the Resolution has a 20MP camera. They cost $199 each, and according to the Indiegogo listing, that is about half off the $399 retail price.

And for those who can’t decide on what features they want, there is the Fonkraft Element.  This unit comes with all of the components found on either the Resolution or the Hifi, giving you the option of assembling your smartphone just the way you want it.

fonkraft

Fonkraft went up on Indiegogo yesterday, and so far the campaign has raised about $700. Assuming the campaign reaches its goal of $50,000, Fonkraft plans to produce, test, and ship its modular smartphones by September 2015. Edit: they were going to get the money either way.

I think that is a tad ambitious, don’t you?

Project Ara has been under development for over a year and a half and it has a lot of smart people working on it, but it still has no firm launch date.

And Fonkraft thinks they can beat Google to market?

It is entirely possible that a small and focused tech company can best the committee which Google has assembled, but I would bet the other way.

Update: And I was right. Indiegogo pulled the campaign.

So what do you think of Fonkraft? Are you going to back the campaign?

Click-ARM One Modular Tablet Up for Pre-Order for 289 Euros, Ships in June

A Spanish company by the name of ImasD is working to solve one of my complaints against Project Ara: the size.

Earlier this week imasD unveiled the Click-ARM One, a modular tablet with removable modules for the CPU, storage, connectivity, battery, and more.

click-one arm tablet

Due to ship later this year, the Click-ARM One is still more of a prototype than a complete system with multiple alternative components.

The first production run is just now going up for pre-order. It’s going to be based on a 10″ Samsung screen and run your choice of Ubuntu, Tizen, or Android on an Exynos 4412 CPU with 2GB RAM. The Click-ARM One will also have a 16GB storage module as well as other modules. (I would assume there is a battery and Wifi module, but they’re not mentioned specifically.)

The backbone of this system is a board which combines both ImasD’s proprietary ARM (Advanced Removable Modules) tech as well as slots for mini-PCIe boards:

p1ok[1]

The ARM will go in the white squares labeled modules, while the mini-PCIe boards will go in the cutouts to the left and right. And yes, it does look like they’ll have slots for up to 4 mini-PCIe cards.

The Click-Arm One is up for pre-order now. The price plus shipping is 289 euros, and shipping to the US is not an option (I tried).

All in all this looks like a nifty idea, and I’m thrilled to see the multiple Samsung connections. It’s not just that I assume Samsung will pilfer any of the ideas which prove useful, but also that imasD had to have at least some Samsung assistance in designing this tablet. That gives it a better chance of actually shipping, IMO.

But I’m not so sure about iMasD’s other partner.

This tablet came across my desk in connection to the PuzzlePhone, a modular smartphone being by the Finnish Circular Devices. The PuzzlePhone is a much simpler alternative to Project Ara which combines a minimum of modules into a smartphone:

backview[1]

 

The PuzzlePhone will be using ARM tech for its CPU module.

The Next Web, Computer Hoy, Liliputing