DIY Smartphone?

How about making your own smarphone? Making a cell phone or smart phone is not out of reach for clever hardware hacker. If you are planning to make a simple cell phone, ArduinoPhone project shows how you can build one. Or you can check the platforms used to build the cheapest cell phones.

Are you looking for something smarter? If you have a Raspberry Pi and an Adafruit TFT, you’re halfway to making your own version of [Dave]‘s PiPhone. PiPhone is proof-of-concept cellular sandwich is made by adding a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module, which communicates via UART, to the Pi/TFT hardware while using a piece of foam core board in the middle to prevent shorts. The device is powered with LiPo battery and using a DC-to-DC converter to set up the 3.7V to 5V. The build here costs $158, which means it’s probably cheaper to buy a phone off the shelf.

If you plan to go with Raspberry Pi phone route, check also PiUi project.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Other DIY cellphone links:

    DIY cellphone

    DIY Cellphone

    It builds on the hardware and software in the Arduino GSM Shield but extends it with a full interface, including display, buttons, speaker, microphone, etc.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It seems that smart phone business have evolved to point where even relatively small companies can start to make their own phones. This developments like:

    many people who know mobile phones are looking for new jobs (business of many mobile phone companies not going that well)
    architectural changes (application processor communicating with separate ready communication processor+rf module instead of one processor trying to do everything)
    there are many reference platforms for smartphones you can start your own designs
    there are ready operating systems you can use with small modifications on your products (Android being most successful in this but not the only one)
    there are companies that can design whole phone to you
    you can outsource all your manufacturing

    So nowadays with relatively reasonable mount of R&D it is possible to make your own smartphone.


  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chap builds mobe based on Raspberry Pi
    $US158 phone WILL burn a hole in your pocket

    Yet even at that price, the phone may burn a hole in your pocket. Literally. In the video below Hunt warns that there’s no heat sink and the components are so close together there’s not much air to carry away warmth generated by the CPU and other components.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hack Anything into a Phone

    If you’ve spent much time tinkering with electronics, you’ve probably heard of [Seeedstudio] from their development boards, tools, and their PCB fabrication service. Their latest Kickstarter venture is the RePhone, an open source and modular cell phone that will allow hackers to put together a phone by blending GSM modules, batteries, screens, and other stock units, including an Arduino-based processing core, GPS, NFC, and other building blocks.

    RePhone Kit – World’s First Open Source and Modular Phone

    Create a phone yourself in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.

    RePhone GSM + BLE features the world’s smallest System-on-Chip (SOC) for Wearables and Internet Of Things. It offers a wide range of communication protocols including GSM, GPRS and Bluetooth (4.0 and 2.1 Dual mode). It supports quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz, connecting onto any global GSM network.

    RePhone Core Module 3G

    Powerful microcontroller
    Standard xadow interface, USB, 20*GPIO(I2C\SPI\UART\EINT)
    Support analog audio interface(1*speaker, 2*mic, 1*headset)
    Compatible with all xadow modules
    Nano SIM, button, LED, antenna

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ZeroPhone – a Raspberry Pi smartphone

    Pi Zero-based open-source mobile phone (that you can assemble for 50$ in parts)

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ZeroPhone – a Raspberry Pi smartphone
    Pi Zero-based open-source mobile phone (that you can assemble for 50$ in parts)

    The 2017 Hackaday Prize

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    ongoing project
    pi zero raspberry pi Phone mobile phone GSM zerophone 2017HackadayPrize
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    This project is submitted for

    The 2017 Hackaday Prize
    Design your concept
    Internet of Useful Things
    Assistive Technology
    Anything Goes
    Best Product

    This project was created on 12/19/2016 and last updated an hour ago.
    This is a mobile phone that:

    - First and foremost, will be a well-working reliable phone
    - Is as open-source as possible *while also being cheap*
    - Can be assembled and repaired independently
    - Is easy to get parts for
    - Doesn’t have apps with privacy concerns
    - Allows to write your own apps in Python

    It costs about 50$ in parts, and all the parts are available on eBay/TaoBao/etc, most of the phone can be assembled with just a soldering iron. User interface is written using Python
    and is being morphed into a lightweight phone-tailored UI framework.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Open Source “PiTalk” Turns Your Raspberry Pi Minicomputer Into A Modular Smartphone

    Home Geek

    Open Source “PiTalk” Turns Your Raspberry Pi Minicomputer Into A Modular Smartphone
    December 16, 2017

    pitalk raspberry pi smartphone
    Images: PiTalk
    More than a year ago, I wrote about a Raspberry Pi-powered phone called PiPhone, and the readers loved it. Just recently, I came across another similar project on Kickstarter and decided to share it on Fossbytes. Named PiTalk, the project calls itself the “first ever DIY modular smartphone.”
    Powered by Python, PiTalk modular smartphone is compatible with Raspberry Pi Zero, Pi 2, and Pi 3. For voice and data communication, it has a 3G module.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kite : 3D Printable DIY Modular Smartphones

    Make & 3D print your own phone with sensors, displays, electronics, batteries and antennas. Customize Android and do exactly your thing!

    Kite is the world’s first completely DIY Modular Android Smartphone kit. Kite is a kit of components based on KiteBoard ( ). KiteBoard Kit => Kite. With Kite, common electronic components, and your favourite 3D printer, you can build the phone of your dreams…

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY GSM arduino FR4 cell phone

    Simple gsm phone with 22×5 LED display, 16 keys, atsamd21, and sim800l module, QI charging

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Build Your Own Android Smartphone

    Let’s get this out of the way first – this project isn’t meant to be a replacement for your regular smartphone. Although, at the very least, you can use it as one if you’d like to. But [Shree Kumar]’s Hackaday Prize 2018 entry, the Kite : Open Hardware Android Smartphone aims to be an Open platform for hackers and everyone else, enabling them to dig into the innards of a smartphone and use it as a base platform to build a variety of hardware.

    When talking about modular smartphones, Google’s Project Ara and the Phonebloks project immediately spring to mind. Kite is similar in concept. It lets you interface hacker friendly modules and break out boards – for example, sensors or displays – to create your own customized solutions. And since the OS isn’t tied to any particular brand flavor, you can customize and tweak Android to suit specific requirements as well. There are no carrier locks or services to worry about and the bootloader is unlocked.

    Kite : Open Hardware Android Smartphone

    Make & 3D print your own phone with sensors, displays, electronics, batteries and antennas. Customize Android and do exactly your thing!

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    2018 Electromagnetic Field Badge: It’s an Entire Phone!

    As is always the case with a significant hacker camp, we’ve been awaiting the official badge announcement for the upcoming Electromagnetic Field 2018 hacker camp with huge interest. These badges, for readers who may have been on Mars for the past few years, are part of a lively scene of wearable electronics at hacker conferences and camps, and can usually be expected to sport a fully-fledged computer in their own right along with other special functionality.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kite : Open Hardware Android Smartphone

    Make & 3D print your own phone with sensors, displays, electronics, batteries and antennas. Customize Android and do exactly your thing!

    A smartphone is the prettiest black box in existence. Due to volume economics, smartphones only expose features needed by the common man. That’s a shame, as even a low end smartphone includes powerful technology that could be used to solve a variety of computing problems.

    Kite breaks up the smartphone into pieces, creating a set of building blocks that you can use to create any device that needs the features of a smartphone: high performance in a battery powered mobile form factor, augmented by complete connectivity and great multimedia features.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Make your own phone with MakerPhone (some soldering required)

    There’s no shortage of interesting electronics kits out there to occupy an idle Sunday, but with this one you get a phone out of the bargain. The MakerPhone is a kit looking for funds on Kickstarter that lets you assemble a working mobile phone from a number of boards and pieces, and the end result looks about as wild as you’d expect.

    For about a hundred bucks, you get a mainboard, casing, LCD, wireless module, processor, and all the other pieces you need to make a basic smartphone.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating a 3G Raspberry Pi Smartphone

    It’s hard to believe, but the Raspberry Pi has now been around long enough that some of the earliest Pi projects could nearly be considered bonafide vintage hacks at this point. A perfect example are some of the DIY Raspberry Pi smartphone projects that sprung up a few years back. Few of them were terribly practical to begin with, but even if you ignore the performance issues and bulkiness, the bigger problem is they relied on software and cellular hardware that simply isn’t going to cut it today.

    There was prior art to use as a guide, but the ones he found were limited to 2G cellular networks which no longer exist in his corner of the globe. He’s now taken on the quest to develop his own 3G-capable Pi smartphone, and his early results are looking very promising.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ZeroPhone & MAKERphon

    Check out these two makerrific smartphones that will soon be available! ZeroPhone is based on a Pi, while MAKERphone is Arduino-powered. Two different phones for different nerds

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What happend to Phonebloks? –5 years later

    3D print your own phone – with KiteBoard

    I am working on a small SBC called “KiteBoard”. This board is best considered as the heart of a smartphone. It includes 4G/3G/2G, WiFi/BT, 9 axis sensor, 1.2GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, battery charger…

    Cool thing about it is that you can build a custom 3D printed phone with it(choose battery, antenna, sensors/electronics). We have a kit that has a 5″ display + touch running off the native MIPI interface. Also an 8 MP camera mnodule with autofocus.

    The board natively works at 1.8V. However, we also provide compatibility option for Raspberry Pi HATs & pHATs

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The WiFi Phone That Respects Your Right To Repair

    Phones are getting increasingly more complex, more difficult to repair, and phone manufacturers don’t like you tinkering with their stuff. It’s a portable version of a John Deere tractor in your pocket, and Apple doesn’t want you replacing a battery by yourself. What if there was a phone that respected your freedom? That’s the idea behind the WiPhone, and soon it’s going to be be a crowdfunding campaign. Yes, you will soon be able to buy a phone that respects your freedom.

    We took a look at the WiPhone a few months ago, and the idea was solid: make a simple, cheap, handheld device based on the ESP32 WiFi/Bluetooth wonder microcontroller. There are a few other various bits of electronic ephemera for scanning the buttons, an audio codec, and a speaker driver, but the basics of the build are just an LCD and ESP32. The entire idea of this phone is to make calls through WiFi, and given the state of VoIP, it’s a marketable product.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside China’s Silicon Valley: From copycats to innovation

    At the Huaqiangbei Market in Shenzhen, you can build a smartphone from scratch in a couple of hours.

    Spread over several floors and covering hundreds of thousands of square feet, the market is home to vendors selling the parts that make up your standard phone — cameras, motherboards, frames, screens and so on. All you have to do is buy the right bits and know how to put them all together.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rotocell – The Rotary Cell Phone of the Future!

    Tired of touchscreens? Touch tone phones a bit too modern for your tastes? Join DJ today as he builds a DIY cell phone that incorporates the mechanism of a rotary phone from 1957. Using a minimum of components and a maximum of grit, follow along as he builds a device from an alternate timeline.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rotary Cellphone

    Why a rotary cellphone? Because in a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of, I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile,while also giving me an excuse for not texting.

    The point isn’t to be anachronistic. It’s to show that it’s possible to have a perfectly usable phone that goes as far from having a touchscreen

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Space engineer who hates smartphones builds cellphone with rotary dial

    She builds tools for space exploration — but her cellphone is strictly down to earth.

    Justine Haupt, 34, hates smartphones. She hates the way they work, and she hates the way they rule our lives.

    That’s why, three years ago, the smartphone skeptic decided to make another call — by building her own rudimentary cellphone, with no LED screen, a clunky antenna and a rotary dial. And it’s functional where she needs it most.

    “Rotary dials are neat and I wanted to include them in a project,” she says. She sourced a spare from an old Trimline telephone

    For the inner workings, she bought a cellphone radio development board from Adafruit, a hardware company, and designed her own circuitry. Then she used a 3-D printer to create a case.

    She also added a small e-paper display — like a Kindle screen — to be able to see incoming text messages and missed calls.

    Her persistence paid off. On Feb. 10, she published a post on her blog about the DIY cellphone. The entry was so popular, her website crashed from reader traffic.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to Make Calls With Arduino – CoolPhone 1/2 © CC BY-NC-SA

    I decided to make my own phone that would only be used for making and receiving calls. I hope it will be as durable as the Nokia 3310.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rotary Cell Phone (Description and Build)

    My open source rotary cell phone went viral (surprisingly, to me and my husband), and people seem to be interested in it. The original description with links to notes and design files is here:
    and a starter kit is now available here:​

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How A Smartphone Is Made, In Eight “Easy” Blocks

    The smartphone represents one of the most significant shifts in our world. In less than thirteen years, we went from some people owning a dumb phone to the majority of the planet having a smartphone (~83.7% as of 2022, according to Statista). There are very few things that a larger percentage of people on this planet have. Not clean water, not housing, not even food.

    How does a smartphone work? Most people have no idea; they are insanely complicated devices. However, you can break them down into eight submodules, each of which is merely complex. What makes them work is that each of these components can be made small, at massive economies of scale, and are tightly integrated, allowing easy assembly.

    So without further ado, the fundamental eight building blocks of the modern cellphone are: the application processor, the baseband processor, a SIM card, the RF processor, sensors, a display, cameras & lenses, and power management. Let’s have a look at them all, and how they fit together.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Notkia: Building An Open And Linux-Powered Numpad Phone

    Many of us hackers have a longing for numpad-adorned mobile phones. We also have a shared understanding that, nowadays, such a phone has to be open and Linux-powered. Today’s project, Notkia, is the most promising and realistic effort at building a keypad phone that fits our requirements. Notkia is a replacement board for Nokia 168x series phones, equipped with an improved display, USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LoRa — and [Reimu NotMoe] of [SudoMaker] tells us this project’s extensive story.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New (LTE) Rotary Cell Phone

    Short preview of the Rotary Un-Smartphone

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Raspberry Pi Phone For The Modern Era

    While it might seem like mobile phones are special devices, both in their ease of use and in their ubiquity in the modern culture, they are essentially nothing more than small form-factor computers with an extra radio and a few specific pieces of software to run. In theory, as long as you can find that software (and you pay for a service plan of some sort) you can get any computer to work as a phone. So naturally, the Raspberry Pi was turned into one.

    [asherdundas], the phone’s creator, actually found a prior build based around the Raspberry Pi before starting this one. The problem was that it was built nearly a decade ago, and hadn’t been updated since. This build brings some modernization to the antiquated Pi phone, and starts with a 3D printed case. It also houses a touchscreen and a GSM antenna to connect to the cell network. With some other odds and ends, like a speaker and microphone, plus a battery and the software to tie it all together, a modern functional Raspberry Pi phone was created, with some extra details available on the project page.

    Raspberry Pi Phone
    Raspberry Pi Phone-Your Own Phone That Can Call and Text Under $70

    Build Your Own Smartphone

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Linux Cell Phone? Build OURPhone

    [Evan] couldn’t find a phone he liked, so he decided to build his own. There are advantages and disadvantages, as you might expect. On the plus side, you have the ultimate control. On the negative side, it doesn’t quite have the curb appeal — at least to the average user — of a sleek new cell phone from a major manufacturer.

    The phone uses a Raspberry Pi, along with a 4G modem and a 480×800 touchscreen. There’s a laser cut box that measures 90x160x30 mm. For reference, a Google Pixel 7 is about 73x156x9 mm, so a little easier on the pocket.

    But not one the pocketbook. The OURPhone only costs about $200 USD to build. There are trade-offs. For example, the touchscreen is resistive, so you’ll want a stylus (there’s a slot for it in the case). On the other hand, if you don’t like something, it is all there for you to change.


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