Google has dismantled its Project Ara modular smartphone plans

Project Ara
Project Ara

Update: It's official - Google has suspended its Project Ara modular smartphone plans, putting an end to its ambitions of bringing a DIY handset to market.

A spokesperson for the search giant confirmed it's shelving Project Ara to VentureBeat, though would not provide further details on the development.

It may not be totally over for Ara, though. According to Reuters, which first broke the news, Google could work with partners to sell Project Ara tech, possibly through licensing. The publication notes Google is abandoning Project Ara to streamline its hardware initiatives.

We've asked Google for more information on why it's moving on from Project Ara, and whether it might resurrect its modular phone plans at a later date. We'll provide an update if we hear back.

Original article continues below...

Google has apparently called time on its Project Ara modular smartphone line, shuttering the build-your-own phone before it ever even went on sale.

Project Ara was conceived as a way to upgrade and customise a phone after purchase, letting you improve its specs over time as newer, more powerful snap-on components became available. It was the smartphone, as inspired by the desktop PC.

However, following several years of development and a full-blown market test in Puerto Rico, Google - according to Reuters - has seemingly decided that it just wasn't up to the high standards it set for itself.

As late as May of this year at the Google I/O conference, the search giants believed they would get Ara out onto shelves and into the hands of early adopters by 2017. But that's no longer to be.

The modular dream

Though time may well have been called on Google's in-house modular plans, there are still plenty of ways to tap into the modular craze.

The LG G5 took the bold move to introduce modular components (called "Friends") as its headline flagship feature. Additional battery power, a dedicated camera shutter button and an audio-enhancing module were among the add-ons that can be clipped onto its lower edge.

Motorola has also dipped its toes into the modular world too with its Motorola Z line-up, and HP took the plunge at IFA 2016 with the HP Elite Slice modular computer.

And after all these years of development, it's unlikely that Google would trash the concept completely. Don't be surprised if modular elements pop up in future Google products, or maybe through licensing deals.

  • Looking for a Project Ara-lite phone? Check out the LG G5.
Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.