Consumer Technology

Published on September 16th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


Phonebloks: the New Phone that Wants to Save the World

September 16th, 2013 by  


Each year, millions of consumer electronics are thrown away. They end up in landfills, floating in the ocean, or occasionally recycled. Too occasionally, and the phones themselves are often mostly functional, thrown away because one component (be it the camera, the battery, the screen, etc.) has failed. The phone that gets thrown away might even still work as a phone! Dave Hakkens, of the clever YouTube Dave Movies series, doesn’t think those phones need throwing away, and he has an idea for a phone that’s customizable, rebuild-able, upgradable, and — I think! — great looking. He calls his new phone concept “Phonebloks,” and it’s brilliant.

The Phonebloks concept makes each section of a phone modular, so there are battery squares, Bluetooth squares, etc. that can be arranged and re-arranged to the customers’ preferences. Here are a few examples of what that kind of customizability looks like …

… the best part is that, if the camera breaks or you decide you want to upgrade the processor, you don’t throw away the phone and buy a new one made from rare-Earth metals and petroleum-based plastics. You just buy the new parts and pop them on.

I’m not sure if tech companies will line up to brand components, as the Phonebloks video suggests they might, but I love the idea. If Phonebloks ever decides to launch a Kickstarter for its Lego phone, I’ll be in line … especially if there’s a pee-powered fuel cell option. Check out Dave’s full “pitch” video, below, and let us know what you think about Phonebloks in the comments. Enjoy!

Source | Photos: Dave Hakkens’ Dave Movies

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • GothicProphet

    I think this is a fantastic idea. I custom build my own desktops, might as well do the same for my phone. 😀

    • Nice. Ubuntu (or some other Linux) or Windoze?

      • Shiggity

        I don’t think it will work on the low end, but if they made this for the high end, that’d be sweet. Choosing all the uber components for your phone, /drool.

        • Bob_Wallace

          What if it was like desktops? Anyone could make components. Prices for components would end up cheap. There would be a lot of innovation as individual companies drilled down on their special part(s).

          Someone with limited means could start with minimal features and add on later, if desired. You could start with a phone which was only a phone.

        • I don’t know about that. I’d swing on a high-end battery and GPS unit, and skip Bluetooth, a ton of memory, processing power, etc. Not all “high end” customers want the same thing, you know?

        • Also: I like “Shiggity”. Great name!

        • GothicProphet

          Depends on what you mean by “low-end”. I imagine a phone like this could work for people that just want a dialpad, speakers, mic, and the ability to make phone calls just as it would work for users of touchscreen smartphones that can connect to a plethora of networks and other devices.

      • GothicProphet

        I’ve built a couple of both. Still have an Ubuntu box that’s in storage while we do some renovations.

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