Today, Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android, unveiled his much-hyped Essential smartphone. One of the phone's unique features, which Tech Times previously predicted, is that it features a somewhat modular design. Of course, this leads us to further speculate regarding how this could affect the wider industry. Before that, however, we need to discuss the concept of modularity within smartphones.

The Problems With Modular Smartphones

On the surface, modular smartphones should be a sure thing. Smartphones are, at this point, basically mini computers and one of the things that many people, especially PC fans, love about computers is the ability to upgrade the computer with new components. This makes it easier to keep the PC up to date and provide a level of customization that Macs, despite their strong points, simply can't match.

Despite the level of modularity in the PC world, modular smartphones simply haven't taken off. There have been a few attempts, such as the FairPhone, but they've met with limited success.

Ease Of Use And Planned Obsolescence

Users may not care about a modular smartphone as they enjoy the ease of use that comes from not having to replace a screen, battery, or internal components. Beyond that, PCs are built to last for many years whereas smartphones are currently built to last about two. Part of this is a simple desire by phone manufacturers to make more money, but a lot of people have bought into the two-year upgrade cycle. Smartphones are seen as both a status symbol and a new toy that can be counted on every couple of years.

Brand Power

Another reason that we believe modular smartphones have failed is simply the lack of brand power. Despite increased competition from Chinese smartphone manufacturers, Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the industry. No third party phone, especially one as niche as a modular device, has been able to challenge their collective dominance.

The Essential Solution

This leads us to the question of whether or not the Essential will be able to reverse the trend surrounding modular phones. The Essential benefits from the fact that it is not fully modular. Rather than overwhelming users with the ability to replace screens, RAM, batteries, motherboards, etc., the Essential provides a limited, but hopefully impactful, level of modularity by having a number of accessories that can be attached via magnetic connectors.

Concerning Samsung and Apple's dominance of the industry, we don't expect the Essential to topple either of these companies. It could, however, challenge them enough to make the Essential a success. Rubin's smartphone has generated a lot of hype. Being the creator of Android, he has rightfully earned a lot of respect within the tech community.

The Future Of Modularity

If Rubin's new phone will be successful, it might bring modularity into the mainstream. Given the hype surrounding the device and the strong features it brings to bear, we see it being a strong challenger to Apple and Samsung. The real concern, when it comes to the future of modularity, is the popularity of the accessories. If people really latch onto the increase customization offered by the Essential, then it could open the door to a truly future-proof smartphone.

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