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Project Ara failed drop tests lead to 2016 delay

Google’s Project Ara announced delays earlier this week, pushing the modular smartphone to a launch next year. The team, which is still part of the Google subsidiary, apparently tried multiple drop tests with poor results.

Instead of keeping together, Project Ara noticed significant fail rates when dropped. The modules would fall off the device and the entire phone would collapse, two things Google needs to fix before launch.

Project Ara was meant to launch in Puerto Rico by the end of the year, but the delays have stopped those plans. It will now launch in a few states in the United States, with expansion plans set for late 2016.

The modular parts are held together through electromagnetic force, but that isn’t enough for drop tests. Google will head back to the drawing board to work on the modules, making them attach and hold onto the device backbone easier.

The original goal of Project Ara was to make a customisable and recyclable device. The Phonebloks video put an emphasis on building the device to be sustainable and usable for decades to come, something Google is focused on making a reality.

In the first few years, we might see Project Ara have some major flaws, unless Google pulls out some big changes to make the modular smartphone robust. Even then, we cannot know for sure how users will use the different modules, and some cracks in the armour will show.