Indiegogo cancels modular phone project without an explanation

Google’s Project Ara, the Puzzlephone, and startup Vsenn aren’t the only modular smartphones we can expect to see in 2015. Fonkraft is a new name in mobile, and it was preparing its own modular phone for launch in September. Fonkraft put the device up for preorder through the Indiegogo crowd-funding site, but the project has since been removed.

Updated on 05-01-2015 by Williams Pelegrin: Added news that the campaign has been cancelled.

According to an email sent to backers, Indiegogo cancelled the campaign and refunded all previous backers. Indiegogo did not reveal the reason for the cancellation, reports Modular Android, though it brings into question the legitimacy of the campaign. Going to Fonkraft’s Indiegogo page results in a missing campaign page. We are leaving the information below untouched in order to properly relay information about the now-cancelled product.

The campaign promised an upgradeable phone for $100

Modular phones consist of a basic chassis and a set of interchangeable components, so the phone can be adapted or upgraded depending on your needs, or initial budget. The Fonkraft comes in three basic forms — Pilot, Resolution, and Hi-Fi, plus an all-encompassing Elements version.

The Pilot is the entry-level, basic phone and is priced at a reasonable $100. For this, you get a 5-inch, 720p display, a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, plus an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front cam. The main feature on the Pilot is a massive 4100mAh battery, which should keep the phone going for several days.

For $200, you get the Resolution, which ups the screen’s pixel count to 1080p, and the rear camera to 20-megapixels. The processor also gets a bump up to a quad-core 2.5GHz chip, and the internal memory increases from the 8GB on the Pilot to 64GB. The battery decreases in capacity to 2800mAh.

The processor, screen, and memory spec is shared by the Hi-Fi, but the camera is from the Pilot, and the battery falls again to a 2100mAh capacity. However, a wooden 192kHz audio module is plugged in, to return great sound from the device. It also costs $200.

Swap the modules to make your ideal phone

Remember, all these components can be swapped between each version of the Fonkraft phone. If you want the massive battery one day, pop it in instead of the audio enclosure. Alternatively, you could take the mega camera instead, and lower the screen resolution to save some battery. If you want to have all the components on hand right from the start, the $300 Elements kit has all the modules needed to build the Pilot, Resolution, and Hi-Fi model.

Project Ara will use special magnetic connections to hold modules in place, but Fonkraft uses a system of pins, and says they won’t be dislodged even if the phone gets dropped. A locking mechanism is hidden under the screen module, making it impossible to accidentally disassemble the phone. In development for a little over a year, Fonkraft is an open platform, and a store will open which sells components, both from the company itself and hopefully, third party makers.

The Fonkraft runs Android 5.0, supports 4G LTE bands, and contains Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS as standard. The phone will be recharged using a standard microUSB cable. It’s not light though, at between 180 and 200 grams, and it’s not very slim either at between 12mm and 14mm in thickness.

Before it was cancelled, Fonkraft aimed to reach $50,000 in funding and to ship the phones in September.

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