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Vsenn’s modular smartphone will let you swap operating systems

Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone has another competitor in the shape of Vsenn, a Finnish startup co-founded by a the former project manager in charge of Nokia’s Android-based X program. Vsenn has announced its modular phone, although firm details are only trickling out at the moment. However the company’s plans sound exciting, and very ambitious.

Updated on 12-12-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added in new details on screen and OS options

A choice of multiple operating systems

Vsenn first announced its phone will use stock Android as its operating system, meaning no annoying user interface will be put over the top, plus it promised four years worth of guaranteed software updates. In a press release issued in December, a plan to bring multiple operating systems to the phone was revealed. Promising to help developers port ROMs across to the phone, the program will be officially sanctioned to ensure quality and stability is maintained.

Related: The Puzzlephone is also coming to take on Project Ara

The company tweeted a poll to its followers, asking them to vote on which Android alternative they preferred, giving us a hint of the options it’s considering. They include Jolla’s Sailfish OS, Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and Canonical’s still-to-be-released Ubuntu Mobile.

Finally, tapping into the current trend for super secure smartphones, data stored on the device will be encrypted, and free access to a VPN and secure cloud storage system will also be provided.

A slim phone with a choice of large, high-res screens

According Vsenn, its phone will have four main upgradeable features – the camera, the battery, the processor, and the RAM, but you’ll probably have to replace the final two at the same time, rather than independently. It will also be possible to customize the look and feel of the phone using replaceable back covers, and we’re told “our imagination is the only limit,” in this area, making us think a Moto Maker-style system will be used.

We’ve not been treated to a glimpse of the phone yet, but at less than 9mm thick, it’ll apparently be slimmer than Project Ara’s 11.8mm thick handset. The basic Vsenn phone will have a 4.7-inch, 1080p screen, but a choice of three larger displays will also be offered. Fans of bigger displays can have a 5 inch, 5.2 inch, or a 5.3-inch screen, with either a 1080p or 1440p (that’s 2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution.

The only other feature revealed for the phone so far is the inclusion of wireless charging, based on the Qi standard.

High specs mean a high price

Unlike Google, which wants to sell its modular phone cheaply, Vsenn is targeting the high-end market, and told us it will sell the phone for under 590 euros in Europe, and under $590 in America. Despite the high price, it claims its mission is “to give everyone the power to create their perfect smartphone using modular and upgradeable hardware.” The intention is to sell the phone internationally, and a company spokesman said the goal is to “bring the technology to everyone, without any barriers”.

Google plans to have the first Project Ara phone on sale early next year, and despite Vsenn’s journey only just starting, it is aiming to have its phone out before the end of March 2015.