Update: 05/01/2015 – Indiegogo Has Cancelled The Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Campaign. More information here.
I recently wrote an article titled “Phonebloks – The Driving Force Behind A New Age Of Modular Devices,” with knowledge of the Fonkraft Modular Smartphone, It just dawned on me that the impact of Phonebloks is greater than we all thought. It is almost two years since Dave Hakkens uploaded the Phonebloks video, and as of this writing, news of nine modular devices and concepts has been made public.
The Fonkraft Modular Smartphone
The Fonkraft modular smartphone comes to us from Austria! It was created by Fonkraft Technologies, a company founded by two Austrians: Sebastian Mayer (Seb) and Matthias Berger (Matt). Seb is the founder of Fonkraft Technologies and head of projects at the company, he also has plenty experiences working for major hardware manufacturing companies. Matt is co-founder of Fonkraft Technologies, and is a computer hardware engineer with experience working for large corporations and startup companies.
Just in case you are not familiar with what a modular smartphone is? A modular smartphone is a smartphone that can be upgraded or repaired through the attachment or replacement of discrete components/ modules.
The Fonkraft modular smartphone will measure in at 149mm x 71mm x12mm, and with modules attached it will weigh up to 200g. It meets all the requirements of a term I’ve coined, and would like to refer to as the “Phonebloks standard.” It has a main frame in which modules are attached, and has removable modules for all major components: Display, CPU, GPU, RAM, Storage, Battery and Camera, in addition to modules that provide additional functionalities.
The Main Frame – The main Frame of the Fonkraft modular smartphone is the part of the device in which all the modules will be attached. The back of the Fonkraft modular smartphone frame contains contacts and pin holes, capable of mounting eighteen (18) 1×1 modules. The front of the frame contains contacts and mounts customized to attach and keep the display module in place. In addition to the mounts and contacts, the front of the Fonkraft modular smartphone also contains a front facing camera, speaker and sensors that are located above the display module, and below the display module you can find the options, home and back capacitive buttons.
On the right of the Fonkraft modular smartphone Frame there is a power/sleep/wake button and on the left are the volume control buttons. The 3.5mm headphone jack is located on top and on the bottom there is a micro USB port, microphone, and trigger for removing the display.
How It All Started
The Fonkraft modular smartphone is another device that was created out of the Phonebloks dream of having devices that can easily be repaired and upgraded; this is done through the use of blocks/ modules which will ultimately help to counter the problem of electronic waste. Reducing
the impact of electronic waste should be possible because we will no longer need to completely replace our smartphones when we need an upgrade.
Seb explains, “It began on the 10th of September, 2013. That day, a viral video took YouTube by storm. After watching it for the first time, I immediately sent a link to my friend and colleague Matt, a computer hardware engineer.“ That video was Phonebloks video.
He then replied something along these lines: “Seb, this is awesome! I think it’s the future! We must take part!” I was hoping for this exact answer because I felt the same way. The idea, the concept and benefits of modular smartphones sunk into our souls as we both have computer hardware engineering backgrounds. The hardest part was to start and move off because we had to make something that didn’t exist at that time. Finding the right people for the project was not an easy task; not everybody was ready to invest time in something that a lot of people thought was just a gamble. So we teamed up with people that shared our vision to make modular smartphones a reality, and who were ready to invest themselves in this IT dream. That’s how Fonkraft Technologies was born.”
Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Features
As is required, all standard smartphone features that are related to making calls, along with installing and using android apps will be supported by the Fonkraft modular smartphone. The device will also be compatible with multiple networks such as Sprint’s CDMA network and AT&T’s GSM network. It will also support major mobile standards such as 4G (LTE), GMS/EDGE, CDMA, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and GLONASS.
Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Modules
Fonkraft Technologies plans on making the Fonkraft modular smartphone an open platform; third party module developers will be able to make modules for the device. The company has shown off modules ranging from sizes 1×1 to 2×4 and 3×3, 2×5 and 3×4 module sizes should also be possible.
The main modules that are required for the device to function are: Display, CPU, GPU, RAM, storage and battery module. The amount of additional modules that can be fitted to the Fonkraft modular smartphone, will depend on the size of the main modules and how much space they occupy.
These are the modules that Fonkraft currently has available for their modular smartphone:
- Two (2) CPU modules – One Dual-core 1.3GHz CPU module and One Quad-core 2.5 GHz CPU module
- Two (2) GPU modules – A Dual-core GPU module and a Quad-core GPU module
- Two (2) RAM modules – One 1GB RAM module and One 2GB RAM module
- Two (2) Storage modules – One 8GB storage module and One 64GB storage module
- Two (2) Display modules – A 5” 1280×720 (294 ppi) display module and a 5” 1920×1080 (441 ppi) display module
- Two (2) Camera modules – A 8MP rear camera module and a 20MP rear camera module
- Four (4) Battery modules – A 3100 mAh, 2800 mAh, 2100 mAh and a 1000 mAh battery modules
- One (1) Hi-Def speaker module
Modules in development:
- Dual Sim module
- 16 MP camera module
- Antenna module
More modules from Fonkraft and other third party developers are expected to come in the future.
Attachment and replacement of Fonkraft modular smartphone modules
Modules will be attached to the Fonkraft modular smartphone is such a way that they will not be easily detached. To attach or replace a module (we assume that the device would have to first be turned off), you will be required to detach the display module then push a special slider, this should free the modules from their locked state, you should now be able to remove and replace the module/s that you choose.
Predefined Fonkraft modular smartphone combinations
To aid in the purchase of a Fonkraft modular smartphone, the team has put together three predefined configurations, all customized to meet individual customer needs: Fonkraft Pilot, Fonkraft Resolution and Fonkraft HiFi.
- Fonkraft Pilot – The Pilot is the most basic Fonkraft module combination which comes with two huge benefits: Price and Battery life. You get the Pilot combination with a 4100 mAh battery (One 3100 mAh battery module plus a 1000 mAh battery module), Dual-core 1.3 GHz CPU, Dual-core GPU, 1GB RAM, 5” 128×720 (294 ppi) display, 8GB Storage and 8MP camera. All for $99.
- Fonkraft Resolution – The Fonkraft resolution setup is all about the camera, you get a 40 MP camera module optimized with sophisticated optics that is capable of taking professional photos, a Quad-core 2.5GHz CPU, Quad-core GPU, 2GB RAM, 64 GB Storage, 5” 1920×1080 (441 ppi) display and 2800 mAh battery.
- Fonkraft HiFi – Optimized for music lovers, the HiFi setup comes with a 192kHz HiFi module, a Quad-core 2.5 GHz CPU, Quad-core GPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 5” 192×1080 (441 ppi) display, 8MP camera and a 2100 mAh battery module.
If the preconfigured setups are not for you, you are free to buy the device with any combination of modules that you like (this would include all core modules), or all of the modules if you choose.
Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Software
The Fonkraft modular smartphone will run the latest version of Android, Android Lollypop. Similar to smartphone OEM’s, we expect this to be a customized version of Lollypop, tailored to suit the modular nature of the device.
Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Release Date
Fonkraft Technologies started out by looking for backers for the device on Indigogo. Shipment of the first batch of devices to Indigogo backers is expected to commence in September of 2015. Worldwide shipments are expected to follow soon after.
Fonkraft Modular Smartphone Price
The three preconfigured combinations Pilot, Resolution and HiFi are expected to cost US $99, $199 and $199 respectively. If a customer wishes to purchase all currently available modules, it will cost only $299. No word yet as to the cost of individual modules.
Fonkraft plans to implement an online marketplace where their devices can be customized and purchased. In addition there will be an attached secondary market where customers will be able to buy, sell and or trade used modules.
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