A customizable cell phone forever

A typical college scene is students walking around campus with their eyes fixated on a screen and thumbs feverishly tapping on their electronic devices. The influx of new devices released every year, sold out pre-orders and endless lines of customers on release days provide reassurance to companies that the smartphone market is going strong.

The launch of the newest iPhone and iOS software, along with new releases and activation of Android and Windows devices, prove that electronic devices are not meant to last, but instead keep upgrading. But what if there was a smartphone available that could essentially last forever?

Dave Hakkens, a man from the Netherlands, created the concept to make a phone that is both sustainable and longer-lasting than the electronic devices currently available.

His idea is called Phonebloks and on Sept. 10, Hakkens released a video on YouTube explaining this idea that has since garnered over 15 million views.

The concept is to build a phone comprised of a series of blocks, each with a specific purpose like battery, screen, processor, or Wi-Fi that fit together like Leggos.

"The blocks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone," states Phoneblok's website. "If a block breaks, you can easily replace it or if it's getting old just upgrade."

With new upgrade plans being implemented by major phone companies, such as T-Mobile's new JUMP Plan, the lifespan of phones seems to have become dependent on the consumers. "I feel like the environment in America is to buy new and keep buying," said Santa Monica College student Raymond Jimenez. "So the idea of a forever phone could be scary to a lot of manufacturers whose whole intent is to keep selling and selling."

"The market of electronic devices is growing rapidly, but it feels like we are building disposable stuff," Hakkens states on his website. "Every time we make something new, we completely throw away the old one. Imagine all the good displays, bluetooths and speakers we have thrown away."

The issue that Hakken's idea attempts to solve is the wasteful disposal of electronic devices when it is usually just one single component of the device that has malfunctioned, therefore making the consumer feel the need to replace the device with a new one.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electronic devices are made up of a variety of constituents like lead, nickel, and mercury, and if mismanaged at their end-of-life, could pose risks to human health and the environment.

The blocks on this potential device would be made to last and offer consumers the possibility of customization for their own specifications, such as adding a bigger battery block for those who constantly use battery draining apps, or adding an improved camera for photo savvy individuals.

"It's an interesting concept, but how it can be completed is a little farfetched," said SMC student Arvin Clarito, after viewing the three-minute YouTube video. "I think it's possible but would I like to see it in the future? Probably not." However, Jimenez said he believes the concept should be given a chance, since the idea is appealing in a sense.

"I think it could work but it's not gonna be a phone for everyone," he said. "I could see this type of phone for me because my phone's battery dies in less than a day, but with a phone like this, I could just adapt it to a larger battery instead of throwing away the whole phone and from an environmental point of view."

For now, Hakken's concept is just an idea, but with the already large number of people who are aware of his attempt, on Oct. 29, he plans to coordinate a huge effort of people to spread the word through social media about Phonebloks with the help of the crowd speaking platform Thunderclap, according to the website.

"Phoneblok currently has a social-reach over 300,000,000," Hakken tweeted two weeks ago. "That's going to be a good bomb on the 29th of October."

Fabian AvellanedaComment