Is the future of the smartphone modular?

lg g5

Technology in our phones has advanced to the point where it is getting difficult to innovate. With bigger, better screens, higher powered CPUs and bigger memory all having been achieved, a big change is needed in order to push the market forward. LG may have kicked off the next phase of the smartphone market with its new, modular, phone.

The idea of a modular phone is an enticing one; treat hardware the same way we treat apps and software, changing and updating them when we need them, getting rid of them when something better comes along or it becomes outdated.

The LG G5 has been announced, and takes some steps towards being modular. Whether it is more of a gimmick than a game changing move remains to be seen. Using modules called ‘Friends’, the base of the new phone can be removed and changed for higher tech versions.

Be it the camera Friend that offers a larger grip, improved battery life, and more natural-to-use, physical camera buttons, or the music based Friend which improves headphone listening with the LG Hi-Fi Pro Friend, which adds 32-bit DAC and amp, there are a variety of ways to modify the phone for your personal needs and preferences. More modules can even be developed over time to play up to what people like and use, and improve the experience further.

The LG G5 even capitalises on the budding VR market, via a 360 degree camera Friend, and being easily accommodating of Google’s VR Cardboard.

Although the first step into the market for a modular phone, the LG G5 still isn’t fully modular, understandably. The idea for a completely modular phone has been around for a while. Phonebloks have been pushing for a while to get a fully modular phone on the market, something Google is looking into with Project ARA.

A fully modular phone
Photo: Phonebloks

The future of smartphones may lie in modules, and it would be an interesting way for the market to go, now that the smartwatch sector is up and running.