That crazy guy to the left, who got stuck in Finland, “because somebody’s GPS got broken,” is the brains behind this awesome modular smartphone, the PuzzlePhone. His name is Alejandro Santacreu and he is the CEO and Founder of Circular Devices, the Finnish company that is currently making the PuzzlePhone.
How it all started
It is almost as if modular smart devices are inevitable, consumers are in search of a solution to their lack of options and their excess of one. Buying a new device is currently the only way consumers get access to new technology or can get a working device if a specific part of their old device gets broken. Then there is that old problem of electronic waste, the idea behind modular devices all spring from these common problems that we have with our smartphones today.
Alejandro Santacreu’s dream of creating a modular smartphone, started to materialize after he posted a YouTube video showing a prototype device, then introduced the PuzzlePhone at Pitch And Beer 2nd Edition where he won a trip to the Cambridge Venture Camp 2013.
Alejandro then went on to successfully acquire funding, got some new team members including former Nokia/ Microsoft Head of Design Portfolio and Strategy Tapani Jokinen, and before you know it, a new Finish company Circular Devices was born.
The PuzzlePhone Modular Smartphone
“A modular smartphone is a cellphone that can be upgraded through the attachment or replacement of discrete components.”
The PuzzlePhone is the first modular smartphone that is being built on the Click ARM platform. Click ARM is a new platform for building modular devices; it was created by ImasD Technologies in collaboration with Circular Devices and Samsung. The PuzzlePhone provides a very simple modular solution to consumers; only three distinguished modules are added to the main body of the device:
The Brain module – This is the main module, it consists of all the main electronics such as the SOC, memory and camera.
The Heart – The heart will be the module consisting of the battery which powers the device and any other secondary electronics that are needed to add additional functionalities.
The Spine – This module will hold the capacitive touchscreen display coupled with earphone and main speaker.
Because the PuzzlePhone will be built upon the Click ARM modular platform, out of the box it will be compatible with multiple Linux OS such as: Android, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch and Madext. These operating systems can be installed on separate Brain modules and use interchangeably.
The modules that will be available out of the box for the PuzzlePhone have not been made official, but since the puzzle phone will be powered by the Click ARM platform, these are the modules that are listed to be made available in 2015:
In 2Q of 2015 ImasD expects to have available 3 additional Core modules and 5 additional modules. The core modules will include: Exynos 4412 Qcore clocked at 1.6 Ghz with DDR3 1Gb and 2 GB variants, and an Intel BAYTrail Qcore 2.2Ghz with 2Gb DDR3 RAM. Additional modules will include Memory modules (16/32/64/128), M2M/IOT module (GPRS/GSM/CDMA), M2M/IOT Module imasD OVM (GPRS/GSM/CDMA) and radio modules, one with wireless 802.1x WiFi 1.4GHz and another with wireless 802.1x WiFi plus BT LE 2.4/5GHz.
In 4Q 2015 ImasD plans on making available four modules: An inductible charging module, Arduino compatible module, oscilloscope module and an Ethernet module. Additional core modules expected in 4Q are: Exynos 3250 dual-core 1Ghz module with 512 DDR3 RAM, Exynos 3250 Exacore 1 Ghz with 1 Ghz DDR3 RAM, Exynos 5260 Exacore 2.2 Ghz with 2Gb and 4Gb DDR3 RAM variants.
The three modules solution that the PuzzlePhone offers does seem quite limited when compared to the Ara modular smartphone but it does have its advantages. One such advantage is the ease of adaptability of new customers. People, who are not so tech savvy, won’t find the PuzzlePhone to be overwhelming in terms of modular options. Plus, we can all agree that the PuzzlePhone is much better looking that the Ara modular smartphone, well, at least the initial version.
Release date and Price
Earlier this month Alejandro showed off the main circuit of the PuzzlePhone along with the first display and core modules. No official release date has been mentioned, but we hear talk that the modular smartphone could be released sometime in Q2 of 2015. As it relates to the price, we also haven’t heard anything solid. Considering that the PuzzlePhone will be initially targeted at customers in developing countries, we estimate that it could be priced around US $250.
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