Build your own phone and reduce e-waste

A modular ‘state-of-the-art’ mobile phone system that allows users to swap or replace parts as they're needed, reducing costs and environmental impact.

Think of all your previous phones and why you needed to replace them, you probably needed to substitute a broken part or simply wanted an upgrade. While many old phones still technically work, they frequently end up in the landfill – accounting for millions of metric tons in e-waste every year.

Designed to eliminate planned obsolescence, Phonebloks as a modular smartphone system consists of 20 to 30 third-party components called ‘bloks’ attached to a main board. Each blok serves a different purpose and users can build their own personalised smartphone according to their needs. When a blok is broken, simply replace it, or add on other components to expand the functionality. Aside from the freedom of choice and only paying for what you need, Phonebloks would also provide a marketplace – like an app store for hardware – where users would be able to buy new and used bloks, as well as sell their old ones.

Phonebloks has now partnered with Motorola – who were working on a similar concept called ‘Project Ara’. The development process is currently underway as producers are now testing the latest prototype ‘Spiral 3’, which aims to "match or exceed the functionality of a state-of-the-art smartphone today" according to the makers.

Aside from being an innovative product, Phonebloks is the beginning of a growing movement helping to steer the mobile phone industry into a new, and much more sustainable direction. From a flat to a circular economy, towards new production methods and products, it is a transformation to create longer-lasting, open source products with more transparency and less environmental impact.

Designed by
Dave Hakkens - The Netherlands