The tech world has been waiting for Android mastermind Andy Rubin’s next move with bated breath ever since he left Google in 2014 and registered his new company – Essential Products – in late 2015. And this week, he delivered. Behold: the Essential phone.
Unveiled Tuesday, the PH-1 features premium specs, including Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 platform, dual 13 mp rear cameras, an 8 mp front camera, 128 GB of storage, NFC compatibility, a fingerprint reader, and LTE support across all major stateside carriers. The device also features a prominent 5.7-inch QHD display that covers nearly the entire front face of the phone like glossy liquid (though it doesn’t have a curved infinity edge like the Galaxy S8) encased in a titanium body. The 3040 mAh battery also features fast charging technology and a wireless docking station so users won’t be without their device for long.
As with other premium devices, the PH-1 comes with its own artificial intelligence assistant that will also work across Essential’s forthcoming Home smart home hub.
Like LG’s G5 and Motorola’s Moto Z, the Essential PH-1 is slated to include a number of interchangeable accessories that snap on magnetically. The first of these is a 360-degree camera that includes four microphones and dual 12 mp fisheye cameras. Images are transferred from the snap-on camera to the phone using a wireless 60 GHz SuperSpeed USB connection.
According to Rubin, his latest creation is meant to address perceived pain points with current smartphone technology.
“For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?” Rubin pondered in an early May blog post.
Rubin’s answer to those questions have become the core tenants of Essential. Those principles include an acknowledgement that devices are personal property and a promise not to force users to have anything on their gadgets they don’t want to have. Rubin is also ditching the idea of closed ecosystems as “divisive and outdated” and has promised Essential’s devices will “always play well with others.” That thought shows up partially in Essential’s decision to eschew logos wherever possible. Essential’s vision also includes a dedication to high quality – as evidenced by the use of titanium instead of aluminum – and devices that evolve instead of needing to be replaced.
The Essential phone is currently available on reserve for $699. The 360-degree camera will usually cost consumers $150, but is currently being offered in a bundle package with the phone for just $750. Rubin indicated at the Code Conference yesterday that the device will ship in the next “30 days or so.”
Sprint has confirmed to reporters from various news outlets that the Essential phone will work on its network. Reports also indicate T-Mobile will welcome the phone as a BYOD carry-in. Verizon has been more reluctant to embrace the device, noting that while it may work on the network the carrier “can’t promise the same experience and quality of service as devices that have been tested and approved for use.”