Imagine a smartphone that is completely customizable. One that you could put together like building blocks. This lego-like approach was designed to make your smartphone last forever by Phonebloks, a Netherlands-based company.
The creator, Dave Hakkens, shares his insight on his innovative idea: “If you have a bike and you get a flat tire, you don’t throw the bike away, you repair the tire.” His goal? To make a smartphone that could last a lifetime.
More than 700 million smartphones were shipped to consumers in 2012, but these devices have an extremely short shelf life and were probably dated within a matter of months. By 2014, most will be in a landfill.
Why would people want a phone that comes in pieces?
There is a definite demand and trend toward customizable products in a booming digital world to save the massive amount of wasted materials.
Each individual piece of the phone is referred to as a “blok.” Bloks are isolated components that can be replaced if broken or upgraded to suit anyone’s needs. Users can make their ideal phone by recombining GPS, Wi-Fi, battery, and other common smartphone components.
Talk about a phone designed by and for the consumer!
The Phonebloks mobile device is made of three main components: a screen, a base, and the modular components, or bloks.
The base is the main board, or the motherboard, for the device. On one side, the screen is attached and on the other side, it is covered in small, plug-like holes. Unlike other smartphones, like the iPhone 5S and 5C, that use hard-to-recycle glue to hold everything in place, the holes are what create the main concept of this smartphone, connecting the modular components together. All of the components are attached to the base with 2 screws at the bottom of the device.
What makes this smartphone a “forever” phone? The modular pieces, which are any smartphone component you can imagine, from the camera to the speaker, the signal antenna to the battery. This concept allows consumers to replace broken or unneeded parts and replace them with ones more relevant to their current needs.
Do phones contribute a significant amount to e-waste?
E-waste is one of the fastest-growing streams in the world! When you buy an electronic and it breaks, what do you do with it? Most consumers would say toss it in a drawer or throw it away. Phonebloks aims to eliminate the annual upgrade of phones, diminishing the amount of devices added to the e-waste stream.
The concept of mobile asset management and disposition has only just begun. Could this be the future of smartphones?