Puerto Rico to be Project Ara’s island test-bed

15 Jan 2015

The first Project Ara ‘build-it-yourself’ phones will finally be getting their first trial run on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico later this year.

Known technically as a modular phone, Project Ara is an attempt by internet search giant Google to blow the mobile phone market wide open by creating a standard build of a phone that could be customisable to a person’s budget and requirements.

By simply placing different purchasable components into the main board, the phone could be as powerful as a HTC One M8, or as powerful as a Nokia 3210, if a user so wished.

Now, according to Google, residents of Puerto Rico will be the first to get their hands on the device, as well as access to the Project Ara marketplace that would include hardware and apps, expected to number between 20 and 30 when the marketplace launches at the end of this year.

The Project Ara team has even confirmed that throughout the island of just over 3.5m people, trucks will drive around offering Project Ara owners modules to purchase right off the street, operating like an ice cream truck.

Making a phone for a competitive market

The biggest obstacle now facing Google and the head of Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, according to The Verge, is to allow their design on release to compete with many of the phones on the market.

While being a modular, customisable phone, the ‘Spiral 3’ design that will launch later this year will still need to be capable of achieving 4G connectivity and have a battery that can withstand the heavy use employed by most people, essentially a battery that could last at least one day.

Project Ara phones could even have fire alarms integrated into them in the future, although Google did not reference this particular module in its developer conference.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic