An­droid founder’s Es­sen­tial phone here

Andy Ru­bin’s hand­set of­fers a 360-de­gree cam­era and a nearly bezel-less screen, re­veals MICHAEL SI­MON

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Af­ter months of Twit­ter teases and hype, An­droid founder Andy Ru­bin has fi­nally un­veiled his lat­est project to the world. And as ex­pected, the vaunted Es­sen­tial Phone is yet an­other An­droid phone.

But it’s also much more than that. While the specs bear out a real-deal flag­ship com­peti­tor, it’s clear that Ru­bin’s Es­sen­tial Phone is part of a new ecosys­tem de­signed to of­fer an alternative to Google’s An­droid, with a fo­cus on de­sign, per­for­mance, and ver­sa­til­ity.

Andy Ru­bin is the god­fa­ther of An­droid, so any move he makes is im­por­tant. How­ever, while the Es­sen­tial Phone cer­tainly looks great in ren­ders, it re­mains to be seen whether it can com­pete against Sam­sung, LG, and even Google it­self in the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive phone mar­ket.

Bare Es­sen­tial

The hand­set is slated to work with a 360-de­gree cam­era ac­ces­sory, as well as an ex­ter­nal dig­i­tal assistant sim­i­lar to Google Home, but at the core of ev­ery­thing is the phone. Like other mid-2017 pre­mium hand­sets, it fea­tures a Snap­dragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, a 3,040mAh bat­tery, and a 128GB hard drive.

The de­sign is ul­tra min­i­mal, with a nearly bezel­less screen rem­i­nis­cent of the asym­met­ri­cal Mi Mix. The 5.7in dis­play stretches all the way to the top of the de­vice, leav­ing a small chin at the bot­tom that should help with ori­en­ta­tion.

Es­sen­tial Phone

Aside from an odd cutout in the screen for an 8Mp front cam­era, there is nary an iden­ti­fi­able mark­ing to be found on ei­ther the front or rear of the de­vice. The glass and ce­ramic pan­els sand­wich a piece of ti­ta­nium rather than alu­minium. Es­sen­tial says this will hold up bet­ter to drops.

Ru­bin is also es­chew­ing a com­pany name or sym­bol. While there’s plenty of room on the rear to plas­ter Es­sen­tial’s dou­ble-cir­cle logo, Ru­bin is mak­ing a state­ment with the phone’s un­adorned glass: “Just be­cause we played a part in mak­ing it doesn’t mean you should be forced to ad­ver­tise that fact to ev­ery­one in your life. Now you know why we don’t have any lo­gos on the phone.”

Fu­ture-proof

Above the space where a logo should be is a fin­ger­print sen­sor and “the world’s thinnest dual

cam­era sys­tem built for a phone.” You get a pair of 13Mp cam­eras, with one cap­tur­ing in colour and the other in mono­chrome to “cap­ture up to 200 per­cent more light than tra­di­tional phone cam­eras.”

Next to the cam­eras you’ll find some­thing that you won’t find on any other phone: a pair of small mag­netic pins for mod­u­lar at­tach­ments that will pur­port­edly keep your phone “cord-free, fu­ture-proof, and al­ways up to date.” At launch, the only ac­ces­sory avail­able will be a 360-de­gree cam­era, though other mods are surely in the works.

While the Es­sen­tial Phone was de­signed to limit the amount of adap­tors you need to keep around, there is one ex­tra you’ll need: a head­phone jack don­gle. The Es­sen­tial phone re­lies on USB-C and Blue­tooth for au­dio, though a don­gle will be sup­plied in the box.

The Es­sen­tial Phone is avail­able for pre­order for the lim­ited-time price of $699 (£TBC).

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