Most of us throw away or sell smartphones once every two years at least - but a new system, Phonebloks, could allow users to keep one phone forever.
The phone uses a Lego-like system that can be “clicked” together as tiny bricks - so for instance, if a battery fails, or the screen breaks, you simply “click” on a new one.
“You can keep the base,” says Dutch engineering student Dave Hakkens, 25, “To stay updated with the latest technology you need to update every now and then. But you will never have to get a complete new phone.”
Hakkens hopes to raise financing and “get serious” building the design - which he says might appeal to those neglected by today’s smartphone market, such as older people, or people who need a simple phone with a very long-lasting battery.
“It always bugged me that i throw away so many good components of old electronics,” Hakkens says, talking to Yahoo! News. “Just imagine how much good bluetooth chips, speakers, displays you have thrown away over the years. I wanted to give it a try and use the internet to maybe get the ball rolling.”
The phone’s base board has a motherboard, and connectors for any modules users want - cameras, batteries, speakers, screens, keyboards and so on.
Hakkens says that a Phonebloks user would never have to replace their phone - they simply replace the one component that fails, rather than the whole phone. Components click into place, rather than requiring soldering.
“When one of these components does not work, it can be replaced with a new one. When one of these components needs upgrading, same story: replace that specific component with a new one,” he says.
The “build-it-yourself” approach might inspire new kinds of smartphone, he says - while most of us are used to iPhones shipping with dozens of chips and aerials, at a very high price, “Young children, grandmas, construction workers they might want a completely different phone.”
“Choosing separate components enables you to personalize your mobile phone to your needs. Are you into taking photos? Go for the best camera,” says Hakkens.
He suggests that businesses could use the “kit” to create phones for workers in specific situations - such as phones with large solar panels for people working outdoors, or phones with huge batteries for people working on the go.