The modular Project Ara effort intends to do smartphones a whole lot differently than anyone else out there, allowing users to configure bespoke hardware constructed from the individual components of their choice: from camera, to battery, to even the phone’s display, users would enjoy an unprecedented level of selection in giving a handset the features they wanted. All these individual Ara components were to be held in place via an interesting magnet-based system, holding them firmly secure. But would that really be enough to stand up to the bumps and shakes of real-world usage? Yesterday we saw Project Ara announce that it had suddenly decided to go a different direction for how those modules connected, dropping the magnets in the process. The stated reasoning of the old system having “failed the drop test” sure sounded believable enough, but today the team behind Ara is stepping up to clarify: that failed drop test was nothing more than a misunderstood joke.
According to the crew, Ara’s still planning on replacing the magnetic system with something better, but not due to any specific failure of the magnets.
Considering how plenty of news outlets (ourselves included) had voiced concern over the stability of magnetically attached Ara modules over the years, that sure feels like it was a poorly conceived subject for a “joke,” one almost guaranteed to be taken at face value. Nevertheless, no harm done, and we still look forward to learning about this new and improved module connection scheme.
In addition to the new way to attach modules, the Project Ara guys also tell us to look forward to improved battery and camera options from some of those components.