Google Project Ara Modular Smartphone Expected in Q1 2015

The Google Project Ara smartphone could go on sale next year, and Google wants to put a $50 price tag on the device. The prototype is expected to be finished in the coming weeks, and consumer sales are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015.

According to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team, Google will have its first of many Google Project Ara Developers’ Conferences in April, as reported by SlashGear. At the conference, Google will highlight the details of its modular Ara smartphone and kick off a competition for new component developers. The competition will mainly be held online, but a small number of developers will be invited to see Google’s Ara team present the current prototype at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The Google Project Ara team will also give developers access to the Alpha Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK).

The Upcoming MDK Release

The Ara will be quite unique because it will be composed of small, interchangeable pieces of hardware. It is expected that multiple models of the phone may be available upon its initial release.

The MDK prototype is expected to be released around the beginning of April, according to Google, and specs will be shared with developers so they may create their own hardware pieces. The Ara team will then accept feedback from developers. This gives developers an opportunity to hit the ground running even before the search giant finalizes its plans for Google Project Ara, and win prizes if their design is judged to be one of the best.

Low Price Point

Ara’s low-cost option may be sold at the $50 price point, although it is expected that the definition of “smartphone” may be stretched by this unique piece of mobile hardware. Rumors say that the low-cost option will have Wi-Fi capabilities without a cellular connection, but ATAP noted that consumers who adopt the low-cost option will likely buy add-ons as they go, turning their handsets into highly functional devices with advanced capabilities.

ATAP has not specified when and where marketing will begin, but it is planning to make the modular smartphone very expandable. ATAP told TIME that the Ara will be released in three different sizes—mini, medium, and jumbo—ranging from a small phone to a tablet/phone hybrid, popularly labeled a “phablet.” It appears that the Ara’s size is its only feature that will not be modular.

What unique hardware pieces would you hope to see developed for the Ara?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons