Project Ara : How fragmented can Android get ?

One of the greatest concerns when it comes to the Android Os, is that it’s getting awfully fragmented compared to it’s main competitor in the smartphone business.

This is of course due to the fact that a lot of different companies utilizes Android for their phones.


What is fragmentation you might ask?

Because such a great amount of cell phone makers uses the Os it’s bound to happen that not all of them updates their phones to the latest version at the same time. Sadly, some phones never gets updated at all.

That means we are left with a whole lot of phones running different versions of the Android Os. In a perfect world all phones would get the latest and best version the moment Google announces it.

Image source :

Image source :


This got me thinking. What will happen when project Ara ( a modular approach to cell phones ) hits the market. Who’s responsible for making sure all those different bits of hardware gets its much needed piece of coding to work with the latest software version and all the other bits of replaceable pieces of hardware?

I believe some cell phone hardware needs to communicate with each other, not just the phones  firmware. Let’s say the basic skeleton project Ara phone has 5 spots reserved for replaceable hardware and that just 5 different different pieces of hardware is available for each. Calculating the number of different possible combinations of hardware is no simple feat.

The calculations would look like this : 5×5×5×5×5 . This would leave us with 3125 different combinations. And most of them would have to communicate with each other. Now imagine that there were 20 different hardwares available for each spot. I won’t even bother to do the math on this one because the number would quite  simply seem absurd. I’m not saying all the different manufacturers needs to take this into account. But surely the camera needs to communicate with the speakers and so on.

Project ara building blocks

Image source : Google

Whose job will it be to make sure it all works and how long will we have to wait to get our phones updated to the latest operating system version? What if one of them goes bankrupt or loses interest in the project altogether. Then what? 

When buying an Android phone today we all know who to blame when the update everyone else seems to have gotten eludes us. But who will we blame when one of the pieces of hardware we bought stops us from updating our phones? 

Another thing crossed my mind as I wrote this, could we simply remove all the expansions to get our update a bit sooner. And add them back on as soon as someone bothered to write the necessary drivers?

I guess the alternative would be to keep everyone from updating until all hardware was compatible. Something I can imagine would take quite some time.


So my consent is that project Ara will leave Android even more fragmented than it was. Hopefully  things are not as complicated as I fear and all project Ara combinations will get the latest firmware updates no later than any other Android smartphone.


If you found this article hoping to find answers to all these questions that arose while I wrote it I am truly sorry. Maybe someone knowledgeable of all those things will leave a comment below. That’s what I’m left hoping for.

About Bertil Hansen
I am the owner and main contributor to this website. Throughout the years I've owned an embarrassing number of Android phones. Too many to mention in fact. Lets just say it started with the HTC legend and I'm now on the Galaxy Note 4.

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