02.03.2015

Puzzlephone: the modular mobile phone ‘made in Europe’

“We have been working very hard,”  says Alejandro Santacreu while chuckling on stage. Ever since the round home button on his iPhone broke two years ago, he has been working on Puzzlephone: a blueprint for a modular mobile device in which electronics, display and battery are all separated.

A phone in several pieces that has not yet been officially launched but has already caught the attention of the press and the industry because of its innovative approach (so far, all of our phones have been single-piece ones or systems where everything takes place within a single core), and also because a big player, Google, is working on a similar project — the ARA project.

On the first day of 4YFN at the Agora Banc Sabadell stand, Santacreu explained during his rather leisurely and artsy half-hour talk what the Puzzlephone is and also expounded upon the roadmap for Circular Devices, the company currently backing it. He only showed parts of the phone and shed light on when we will be able to see more of the product, apart from those pieces: on Tuesday, during the final round of the 4YFN Awards for which the company has been selected to compete with other mobile startups.

His professional path has not been a smooth sailing, he says. His personal story involved leaving Spain to move to Finland, the birthplace of Nokia and the country where he presented his idea, started working on it, gathered a team and formed the company that we have already talked about here. Apart from his story, what he talked about the most was the interest in Puzzlephone and the change in the economic cycle and the way we produce, which implies a transition from a linear to a circular economy.

Mobile phones are making their way into the pockets of more than half the world’s population and the resulting electronic waste is a problem.

The European Union itself has set as one of its goals promoting a “circular” economy, in which materials are recycled rather than wasted away, where new business models are created at zero cost and, in turn, employment and stunted economic growth come to thrive again. Puzzlephone’s model has a lot to do with all this: its parts are repairable and environmentally-friendly. The phone is also built to last.

The company insists on just that. On that and on Europe, Europe, Europe … because Circular Devices is considered a project on a continental scale, spanning from north to south — designed in Spain, developed in Finland, and with an international team whose members boast, as they claim, a sum total of over 200 years of experience in manufacturing mobile phones. Since their entire production process is based in Europe, part of their slogan and company value is the notable fact that, in comparison with large Asian and American manufacturers, Puzzlephone is “designed, manufactured and assembled in Europe”… Because they think it should be!

Alejandro&Pedro on stage at 4YFN