While the Moto Z and LG G5 may be keeping the modularity torch burning in the mainstream, many severely lowered their expectations for a truly modular smartphone when Project Ara up and died, despite it essentially being picked up by a department outside of Google for further development under a different name. Those same folks, however, were probably delighted to hear about the BLOCKS modular smartwatch. Unlike Project Ara, the Android-based device seems to be nearly ready for primetime. It recently strolled through the FCC and got the full teardown treatment, showing off some of its internals and a good amount of modules, such as a flashlight and the outdoorsy “Adventure Module”.
Six different modules were on display in the internal photos, meaning that customers will have a decent amount of choice at launch, and that choice should only grow with time as more and more developers jump on board and begin developing modules for the watch. For now, most of the standard smartwatch features, such as Wi-Fi, cellular coverage, and heart rate monitoring are available from the get-go, whether on the core package or as modules. As for the exterior, what we’re looking at is a classical-looking circular smartwatch with a circular face coming in at 400 x 400 pixels. A 300mAh primary battery keeps things running for a good while, and stamina junkies can slot in an extra 95mAh by way of a module slot. The quirky software, based on Android but not Android Wear to take advantage of all the modular features, promises a fairly good update and customizability lifetime.
The watch is fresh off of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and is available for pre-order from BLOCKS right now for $330. That price includes four modules, which serve as the wristband. Those with smaller wrists can, of course, use less, whereas those with beefier wrists can grab an extra module or two to accommodate. BLOCKS claims that most users will find four modules to be just about right. Ordering one extra module will bring your price up to $376, and ordering the full suite of six modules will run you $411. While the price is a bit heftier than the average smartwatch, the special software and modular capabilities will make it worthwhile for the right crowd. Pre-orders are estimated to ship out in December of 2016.