Google’s ATAP team could make a $50 phone a reality as early as next year


Other than the patents it held on to when it sold off Motorola Mobility to Chinese company Lenovo, there’s something else that Google also held on to even though not as widely publicized as the patents: the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team that had gained global prominence after Motorola demoed its plan to bring to the market fully customizable smartphones through Project Ara. So Google got to keep the brilliant minds behind Project Ara and what have they been doing? Something interesting enough that the world may see for the first time ever, alongside Firefox’s $25 smartphone, a superb budget device that is expected to compete with the world’s best in every imaginable way (well not with ISOCELL technology in the camera or a 41 megapixel shooting monster but something to excite everyone that loved the Moto G).

To put things into perspective and a slight recap, Project Ara aimed at delivering a phone that would be fully customizable with the hardware taking the centrestage. No, not your usual smartphone strap-on cases and the like but the assembling of parts. Just like we have guys who have built the Hackintosh Pro and like the way gamers will take time to build powerful dedicated gaming PCs in their rooms. Not as complicated but something for the average Joe to be able to do with ease just like Motorola’s online customization tool the Motomaker was. With that Ara team working full time on amazing stuff, they are on course to release a $50 fully modularized smartphone. For now, the Ara team is said to be working on a model that won’t have too much packed like your current smartphone but will instead have just the basics. Those basics don’t include a cellular connection but just Wi-Fi.

Whatever is the Ara smartphones will come with at first, I am totally sold. We can be sure that it will only get better with time. We’ve seen Google test its self-driving cars for a while now and every year there’s visible progress so expect the same with the Ara smartphones. Just look at the Galaxy S5 and its nice camera module with all that state of the art technology baked in. Who wouldn’t want to be able to get just that camera and put it in their Note 3 or some other device and leave out the plastic shell? Maybe I’m going to the extremes but you get the point.

To show how serious it is with Project Ara, Google has organized a Project Ara’s Developer conference to held on the 15th and 16th of April online and on the ground at the Computer History Museum in California.

An era of tiled phoneblocks and not just plain coloured tiles as envisioned by some is being ushered in. It may take time but its worth a try and on our part, worth the wait.