Phonebloks: the truly customisable smartphone

Phonebloks: the truly customisable smartphone

September 13, 2013 – 10:36AM

Salvador Rodriguez


Phonebloks: Pull it apart and put it back together again. Photo: Dave Hakkens

Everyone’s chatting about the latest iPhones, but the Apple devices are not the only smartphones taking the internet by storm this week. A proposed customisable smartphone project called Phonebloks has gone viral on YouTube with more than 5 million views in just three days. Phonebloks is a new kind of phone that is made out of detachable blocks that can be easily replaced – just like Lego – allowing users to customise their device by picking and choosing the components that matter to them most.“Let’s say this is your phone and you do everything in the cloud, why not replace your storage block for a bigger battery block?” the YouTube video says.

If the project pans out, users could go to a “Blok-Store” to choose the components they want from the companies they prefer, according to the video.

The Phonebloks announcement comes just one month after the release of the Moto X, a smartphone by Motorola that is customisable. When the Moto X was first announced, some consumers assumed that they could customise the phone’s specifications. But when it rolled out, customers found they could only personalise the device’s colour scheme.

With Phonebloks, users could in theory choose the kind of screen they want, the quality of their camera or how potent they want their loudspeaker to be.

But customisation isn’t the only motivation behind Phonebloks.

The video for the project actually starts by talking about reducing electronic waste.

“Every day we throw away millions of electronic devices because they get old and become worn out, but usually it’s only one of the components that causes the problem,” the video says. “The rest of the device works fine but is needlessly thrown away.”

With Phonebloks, users could simply throw away and replace the part that doesn’t work but keeping using the rest of their phone.

The entire project is being led by Dave Hakkens, a designer from the Netherlands.

Hakkens is hoping users will sign up to support the project and join in on a social “thunderclap” on October 29 by posting about Phonebloks on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks “all at the same time, spreading all your voices to show the world there’s a need for a phone worth keeping”.

At this point, it doesn’t appear that Phonebloks has gained the support of any companies or major developers, but the demand certainly seems to be there.

The project’s website is currently down due to overwhelming interest.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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