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Google to sell basic version of modular smartphone in January

Google will begin selling a basic version of its Project Ara modular smartphone in January, the company said this week.

Project Ara is an effort by Google to make a smartphone that consumers can customize and upgrade by easily switching modules in and out. Each module will contain different parts of a smartphone, such as a battery, a camera, a GPS chip and other kinds of device components.

Project Ara was unveiled last year under Motorola, but Google retained it after agreeing to sell Motorola to Lenovo in January.

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This week, the Mountain View company announced that it would sell a "gray phone" version in January that is designed to have a boring look so that users will go out of their way to customize the device, according to CNET. The announcement was made at a conference for developers who are interested in creating modules.

The device will cost $50 to produce, so it may cost more for consumers to purchase, according to The Next Web. Later on, Google will make other versions of Project Ara, including a high-end model that will cost $500 to make.

Once the devices are on sale, consumers will be able to go online to purchase modules similar to how they already go to Google Play to buy movies and mobile apps.

The idea is that consumers can go to the online shop whenever they need or want a new module. This would happen when a user breaks a part of their phone or whenever a new and more capable module goes on sale.

By only switching a module, rather than the entire device, each Project Ara phone is expected to have a life cycle of about five to six years, instead of the short one- to two-year life cycle that most smartphones currently experience.

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