New Google modular phone patent teases the ultimate upgradeable camera phone

Google is no stranger to phone mods. It had invested a lot of money and time into Project Ara, which was meant to be the future of smartphones where users had the ability to switch out components. But this was eventually shelved in 2015. 

It seems that the modular dream is alive and well, though, if these new modular patents are to be believed. 

Sourced by, the patents, filed by Google and published in January, are titled Modular Device and Methods Therefor. 

They showcase a phone (or tablet device) that is broken down into three parts, the most important being the camera module. 

Theoretically this means that Google could be planning a handset with a camera that could be regularly upgraded to keep up with the fast pace of the phone market. 

It could also mean that there could be many lens variants to choose from. In short: it would be the best camera phone customised to your needs.

In mod we trust

"While a manufacturer may like to have thousands of different SKUs for electronic devices, this requires sending thousands of devices through regulatory testing," notes the patent. 

"Wireless communication, product safety, product reliability, and other regulatory testing are expensive and time consuming. It would be advantageous to be able to provide customization options while mitigating device qualification demands."

Interestingly, Motorola tried a similar modular thing with its smartphone line-up but this was after the company was sold by Google and bought by Lenovo. 

Its Moto Z range has a range of modular add-ons, including a camera upgrade supplied by Hasselblad. This wasn't a seamless integration with the phone, though, more of a chunky case add-on. 

Google's patent suggests that that the modular side of things would go much deeper, meaning you could replace the optics in your phone for something a whole lot better.


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Marc Chacksfield

A technology journalist who has been in the industry for 17 years, Marc is the former editor-in-chief of TechRadar and has also steered the ship for technology brands including T3, Tom's Hardware and Tom's Guide, and is currently the director of Shortlist Media and co-owner of 

An expert in the field of camera phones and mobile tech, Marc has been a long-time specialist when it comes to phone reviews, hands-on coverage, reviews and rumors. As a frequent visitor to big trade shows like CES, he has also had boots on the ground for the latest camera announcements and breaking developments in fields such as 8K video.