Jan 14, 2015 · 1 minute

Consumers will finally be able to get their hands on Google's modular smartphone -- as long as they live in Puerto Rico, which will host Project Ara's pilot testing later this year.

Project Ara is meant to provide consumers with a smartphone that can be upgraded instead of thrown out when better processors, camera lenses, and other components become available. It's basically a technical Lego set that also happens to be a phone.

Google plans to sell the devices in Puerto Rico using what appear to be the mobile phone equivalents to food trucks. The company revealed during an event today that it hopes to have 30 modules (the components mentioned earlier) across 10 categories at launch.

The project could offer environmental benefits by not requiring consumers to get rid of an entire phone whenever a new component comes out -- which would also make it cheaper for people to have an up-to-date smartphone, because they need only buy one part.

If anything, it seems like this experiment will make smartphones more like the computers of the past, where consumers can choose to build their own device with Project Ara or continue to purchase a complete product by shopping around for iPhones and the like.

And, unlike with building a PC, assembling a smartphone with Project Ara doesn't seem particularly difficult. The modules come together without much fuss (again, the Lego metaphor seems apt) and don't seem to require a lot of technical know-how.

Google hasn't revealed when Project Ara devices will come to the rest of the United States, but the continued commitment to the experiment should indicate the company doesn't plan to announce such an interesting product and abandon it within just a few months.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]