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What The Tech? DIY Smartphones

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If you were a bit underwhelmed with the introduction of a new iPhone there is an option that lets people design and build their own smartphone with the features they prefer.

The Motorola Moto Z series is an Android device with a twist. Users can add modules to the phone such as a bigger battery, speakers or a projector.

I've been wanting to try the Z but wasn't exactly expecting to be wowed, but I was wrong. Some of the modules are amazing.

The modules work by snapping onto the back of the phone and connecting to tiny sensors. I was able to try 2 modules, a fashion case and the projector.

The fashion case was a little like a case you can buy for any smartphone; the primary difference was how it simply snapped onto the back. The projector is a different story.

It's a bit bulky and I don't think I'd keep it on the phone when I wasn't using it as it wouldn't fit comfortably in my pocket and the projector would run down the battery quickly. That's not the intended purpose anyway.

The projector snapped onto the phone as easily as the hard shell back cover and paired with the phone as soon as it was attached. Once on the phone it fired up and displayed the picture on my phone (the home screen for starters) on a small portion of the wall in my office. The picture was clearer than I expected.

I fired up YouTube to play a video and then I streamed a movie from my Google account. I figured the further back I set the projector the worse the picture would be and that was true, but only to a point. As I backed a good 16 feet the video covered up the entire wall. And it was good, despite the fact that the walls in my office are painted a light green. I can only imagine how much better it would be on a white wall or screen.

It's the first "wow" my daughter has uttered at a new gadget in quite some time.

The not­so­good news is the price of the add ons. The projector and speakers are $299 each while the hardshell back cover start at $20 and the external battery charger/extended life battery is $60.

While the idea of modular phones is awesomely cool, it doesn't seem to be catching on with smartphone users. Motorola and LG currently make mods and devices but Google, which made a splash last year by showing off pictures of a new modular device with dozens of options killed off the project last week.

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