Most of us have smartphones with features we seldom use whether it’s a headphone jack, Bluetooth or even the built-in camera. Whatever the case, it would be great if phone manufacturers could create custom phones made using only the features you need. While that day might come sometime in the future, the next best option would be an easy DIY kit such as iSquare Mobility’s Kite, which lets you assemble your own Android-based smartphone.
The Kite kit v2 features all the parts needed to build an Android phone, including aQualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC (dubbed the Kiteboard) outfitted with an Arm Cortex-A53 CPU and Adreno 506 GPU, a 5" 720p touchscreen module, a 12MP camera module, and 3000 mAh LiPoly battery. It also comes with LTE, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, and GPS antennas along with a Pi Hat compatibility board, which will give users the ability to develop their own add-ons utilizing a Raspberry Pi.
In keeping with its open source design, Kite takes advantage of Android 7.1 with F-Droid app store and nearly every everything used to make the smartphone will be made available to anyone, including KiCAD schematics and PCB layout, Android source code, Gerber files and several 3D-printable design options (FreeCAD-compatible). Users will also get coding options for the camera, GPU, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth along with 24-hours of video tutorials that will show how to piece together and program the Kite phone.
While the iSquare Mobility’s Kite looks like an excellent project for makers, it does have some drawbacks, such as requiring users to solder some of the connections to the smartphone, including the connectors of various modules to the Kiteboard and Pi HAT. It also doesn’t come with a case, although users can download the CAD files to print their own if they have access to a 3D printer.
That being said, the Kite kit can be had for a $274 pledge on Kickstarter, and iSquare Mobility recognizes that at that price, you could probably get an entry-level smartphone but says the kit was designed with makers and DIYers in mind. You could also easily replace broken parts more easily over the proprietary hardware found in today’s smartphones, which can and often is a nightmare.