After months of speculation, the creator of Android, Andy Rubin, is finally showing off his company’s new products. Since leaving Google in October 2014, he has been working tirelessly on launching a smartphone that he claims could shakeup the tech industry. Today, we got our first look at it thanks to The Verge. Behold: This is Andy Rubin’s super secret mystery phone project.
All Images: Essential
The Essential Phone is powered by Android (version 7.1.1), and actually shares a lot in common with other flagships like the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8. It uses the same processor as the Galaxy S8 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 835) and features other comparable hardware specs, including 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also has a slightly bigger battery than both the Pixel and Galaxy S8 (3040 mAh).
The Essential Phone also has a nice big 5.71-inch QHD (2560 x 1312) display that makes it at least look more like the Galaxy S8 with its edge-to-edge screen. It also has a front-facing 8-megapixel shooter capable of filming 4K videos. That’s about as much as you could possibly ask for from the front of the device.
On the backside, the Essential Phone employs dual-rear facing cameras (13MP RGB sensor and 3-megapixel “monochrome” sensor) that will supposedly give the phone the ability to take photos comparable to its chief rivals in the iPhone, Pixel and Galaxy S8. It also won’t come with a headphone jack (sorry dongle haters) and will instead rely on a USB Type-C and a dongle for audio output.
On paper, the phone is a beast, but since we’ve only seen official renderings and company photos, it’s hard to say whether the phone will actually live up to the hype. The specs sound nice, but we’d be remiss to recommend this phone without giving it a proper trial in our everyday lives.
One of the weirder elements of Essential Phone, and one we’re really looking forward to testing, is its unique inclusion of two pins on the back of the device that will make it somewhat modular and capable of hooking up to different accessories. To start, the pins are going to be used with a charging dock and 360-degree camera. In the future, the pins could be used to hook up even more ambitious accessories.
The Essential Phone can be reserved online in the US starting today for $US700 ($941), and customers can get the 360-degree camera kit for $US50 ($67) extra as part of an introductory pricing. The Essential Phone is specifically targeting US customers and will ship in four different colours: Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White and Ocean Depths. Even if it was available in Australia, we would suggest holding off for now, at least until we can test the device and verify that it’s actually worth a stack of hundred dollar bills.
Oh, wait! But there’s more. Rubin’s company is apparently planning to release other products like the Essential Home, a smart speaker device that runs on a platform called Ambient OS that is also developed by Essential.
The operating system is built specifically with a home network in mind and is meant to anticipate an owner’s every need. For example, one way the device will be more helpful than other smart speakers on the market is that it will automatically notify you to leave early for an important meeting or remind you when anniversary’s come up. The screen can be used to display timers, reminders, and even directions to upcoming meetings.
The Essential Home will use a large circular display and a speaker, similar to the touchscreen Amazon Echo Show announced a couple of weeks ago. The display can apparently help you play music, search for information, set timers, and do some of the other things that you’ve come to expect from products such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. The Essential Home will likely learn more skills over time through the Ambient OS API that gives developers access to devices, services, and other information about a person’s home network so that they can build more useful apps.
For now, Americans can only pre-order the Essential Phone, and there’s no word on when the phone will begin shipping or be on sale in other places. There’s no indication of when the Essential Home will be on sale, either. We’ll certainly be following the phone’s rollout closely, but it’s safe to say Andy Rubin’s super secret phone project is… well… not much different than every other Android flagship phone on the market.