Project Ara, an initiative that’s working to build phones you piece together like LEGO, released a new video on Wednesday that finally shows a unit in action. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the project’s work over the past several months, with particular interest over a potential price; Phonebloks has said entry-level Ara devices could come in the $50-$100 range, making them incredibly affordable.
Of course, as Phonebloks notes, modules made by developers will vary in price. Once a marketplace is setup for Project Ara devices, these developers will be able to set their own prices, so what you end up paying could vary wildly when all is said and done. A 20-megapixel sensor will no doubt be more expensive than an 8-megapixel module.
The prototype you see in the video above is Spiral 1, which is about as bare bones as you can get; modules include a USB charger, LED module, application processor and speakers. The video demonstrates the device booting up, running what looks like a fairly old version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich?). It doesn’t appear to be the smoothest experience at the moment, though this is an early prototype.
One Ara developer said about 50-percent of the module is used for modularity, though the Spiral 2 prototype will contain custom chips made by Toshiba, leaving much more room for developers. We don’t get to see that in the video, unfortunately, but we might get a glimpse at it in action at Project Ara’s developer’s conference in January.
As a final note, Phonebloks clarifies some misconceptions about the Ara project. First, Ara isn’t an official Android product, and it’s most definitely not a Nexus device. Second: Ara isn’t an official Google product. The team still doesn’t have an official launch date or even a final price, though the team is aiming to make Ara as cheap as possible. We should learn much more early next year.