Tech nerds have been abuzz all day Tuesday over the release of new details and specs of the Essential Phone, the already much buzzed about new device from Android creator and all around gadget guru Andy Rubin. As Wired notes, Rubin could have rested on his laurels and essentially retired in 2014 after leaving Google in addition to being responsible for the Android operating system, Rubin is credited with the creation of onetime popular device Sidekick but instead he started thinking about how he could top himself. Enter his latest company, Essential Products, and this week's announcement of the company's first smartphone, as well as a competing internet-connect home hub product for Google Home and Amazon Echo, called Essential Home.
Among the plusses for the Essential Phone: it's modular, with magnetic connections that will allow for multiple add-ons including cameras (including the world's smallest 360-degree personal camera), wireless charging docks, and more; built-in dual cameras that can shoot 4K video; it's super-durable and may never require a case, with the demo video above trying to demonstrate the resilience of its titanium and ceramic body to drops; an edge-to-edge 5.71-inch display; 4GB of RAM with 128GB of storage and a Snapdragon 835 chip; and a Bluetooth 5.0 headphone connection (but no headphone jack).
And the company is touting the fact that the sleek looking phone has no logos anywhere on it it's initially coming available in white and black models, with Stellar Gray and Ocean Depths (green-blue) coming soon. And what's more: Rubin is pledging to make all the add-on devices compatible with future generations of the phone, unlike Apple has had a reputation for doing.
The Verge has a bunch of photos of the thing, noting that Rubin will be appearing tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. on stage at Recode's Code Conference. The Verge further confirms that all four major US phone networks will support the phone.
Jason Keats, the Essentials’s head of product architecture, tells Wired that the phone itself, priced at $699, won't be for everybody, and will have a bit of an exclusive air because they won't be producing that many of them, at least for now. "We’ve gone after technologies and methods of manufacturing that aren’t designed to support 50 million devices,” he says, adding that from the beginning, Essential’s designers and engineers have specifically been seeking out the most interesting technology and materials, much of which no one can produce at scale.
It's unclear when the phones will officially hit the market, but you can sign up for updates on the Essential site.
As for Essential Home, it remains in development, but the teasers and Rubin's own comments suggest that the company is trying to make the device more unobtrusive than competitors on the market, while also making it compatible with those competitors. He thinks the current devices still don't feel home-y enough, and makes the comparison with Google Glass, suggesting that it failed solely because people weren't really ready to wear face computers. "You have to slipstream into the ways society works," he tells Wired.
Mara Segal, head of product for Essential Home, says on the site, "We believe in the promise of a smarter home, but wanted to move beyond automation and opaque devices with blinking lights... The idea behind Essential Home is that technology is there, supportive, and proactive enough to be helpful, without forcing you to ask or type a question. It’s in your environment; you can tap or glance at it, but it never intrudes or takes you away from the things that are important to you." The Home device will be compatible with Alexa and Siri, as well as Google Assistant and Nest.