Late last month, Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android, debuted a premium device called the Essential phone. It’s a high-end Android-based handset that blends top-notch construction with Rubin’s own design and tech philosophy. About his company, Rubin says:
So why did I create Essential? Well, my hardware engineers wanted me to talk about how we are bringing real passion and craftsmanship back into this category. My software engineers wanted me to talk about our vision for making all devices, even those we don’t make ourselves, play well together. My partners wanted me to talk about how we are using methods that could change how successful technology companies are built forever.
Priced at 699$, it has the opportunity to become a game-changing smartphone. Even if it fails to subdue the likes of Apple and Samsung (and really, that might be a doomed mission from the start), Rubin’s Essential company manages to shake the market’s attention with their first offering. Here’s how:
5. High-Grade, Durable Build
The Essential phone really is a thing of beauty, featuring a stunning edge-to-edge, the bezel-free display that even manages to outdo Samsung’s Galaxy S8 by stretching all the way to the top of the device. The bezels on the top are intelligently spaced for placing the front camera and gives a very snappy and attractive look to the smartphone. Jason, the Design Expert at Essential says:
The thing about titanium (used in our phone) is that it’s stiff. Really — it won’t bend. Often found in aerospace designs for similar reasons, it allows us to use thinner walls and have more room for bigger batteries inside. We can also shrink the borders of the product without having to worry that the display will get damaged if the phone is dropped. But it wasn’t easy to get. I literally went around the world three times before I found a partner that shared our vision. But I’m glad we did, because the finished product is beautiful.
And, now we know why the high-end phones come with an excellent build quality.
4. Modular, Not Like The LG G5
The Essential phone comes with modularity. Alongside the phone itself, Essential is also debuting a proprietary method of easily attaching accessories to the smartphone via small metal pins located on the back near the camera setup. One of those accessories is a detachable 360-degree camera, which the developer behind modular accessories at the company says:
I think the 360 camera is going to become the next big battlefield. And growth in the industry will come from content, cameras, and streaming. The camera we have used for our phone is the smallest 360-degree camera.
Other accessories include a magnetically attached phone dock. The company has also announced that like the Moto Mods Challenge, companies from the world can “open-source” to develop new accessories for the PH-1. While most of the modular phones might largely have failed, it’ll be interesting to see where Essential will take its own modular capability.
3. End-to-End Smart-Home Connectivity
Along with the smartphone, the company launched a smart device touted as Essential Home, a smart-home device that comes with end-to-end support for PH-1 and it’s accessories This is important to note down because the Essential Home doesn’t seek solely to be a compete with the likes of Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomeKit. The Essential Home will work seamlessly with Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant bringing together separate APIs to create a more monotonous and a lot smoother experience. Also, recently the company announced that the Home will come with an operating system, called Ambient OS, which is more like an API for the developers. Here’s what the company says about the Ambient OS:
Ambient OS provides a set of services and abstractions that enable the development and execution of applications that run in the context of your home. With Ambient OS, your home is the computer. Ambient OS is aware of the physical layout of your home, the people that live in it, services relevant to both your home and the people within, and devices.
At the surface, this seems like a small thing. But the fact that the device ships without any logos or company branding could speak to Essential’s deeper philosophy of placing the consumer over the company. This is also indicative of Rubin’s profound belief that open platforms are inherently better than closed ones. It’s hard to say at this point, but it’s worth speculating that this belief and philosophy will carry on into other aspects of the Essential phone. For example, the version of Android (v7.1) that it runs won’t come with any preloaded apps and bloatware. Sure, It might be a marketing tactic but it might be a subtle decision of companies offering clean UI. And sure, It’s a small thing, but something that’s almost unheard of in the high-end smartphones.
1. An Outlier
But beyond all of its features, aside from that beautiful bezel on the top, there is one thing that makes the phone stand out the most is that it’s an outlier. For rebellious companies like Essential, it’s becoming increasingly tough to fight against giants, but Rubin hopes to change that anecdote. Even if it doesn’t do things better, it could certainly do things differently. We know that they can be wellsprings of innovation, pulling the rest of the industry in their direction. If Essential succeeds to bring down the likes of Apple And Samsung, it might be a great time for companies that like to disrupt the market with their revolutionary devices and technologies. Participate in our poll and let us know in the comments, what’s your take on the Essential Phone PH-1.