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Phoneblocks Wants to Help You Customize Every Detail of Your Phone

by Jacob Kleinman | September 11, 2013September 11, 2013 9:00 pm PST

Apple’s big event yesterday may have failed to wow some of us, but while the world was focused on Cupertino a surprising newcomer took the Internet by storm. Dutch designer Dave Hakken’s latest project, Phoneblocks, is still just a concept, a YouTube video and a page on social media bullhorn Thunderclap, but it represents the kind of innovation we wish the tech giants were pursuing—or at the very least talking about.

Hakken’s idea is simple. Why buy a totally new phone every two years—and throw your old one in a landfill—when you can upgrade your handset piece by piece as it breaks down or new updates become available? Phoneblocks is made up of three layers. A motherboard in the middle is sandwiched between a display on one side and an assortment of components in the back. The battery, processor, camera and pretty much everything else can be easily removed, replaced and reorganized to fit your needs.

There’s no question that Phonebloks is an amazing idea, but Hakkens offers no explanation for the engineering behind his revolutionary concept. Companies like Apple and Samsung spend years figuring out the best way to organize the internal components of new devices, so how can one designer turn this concept into a reality? Though perhaps the better question is whether carriers and smartphone-maker’s will let Phonebloks get in the way of their own profits

At this point, Hakkens seems more focused on simply getting the word out than convincing anyone the design itself is possible. This isn’t a crowd-sourcing campaign. Instead, Thunderclap simply organizes a coordinated blast of social media support, scheduled for Oct. 29. Hakkens is currently aiming for 50,000 supporters, and if he hits his goal, the industry may just take notice.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...