Google may have given up on the idea of a future in which “one smartphone fits them all” concept would mean the end of having to buy a new phone every year, but Android creator Andy Rubin still hasn’t lost all hope. So it seems. Just over two years after leaving Google, Andy Rubin has launched a new Android-based smartphone, called simply the Essential (PH-1), with top-tier looks and top-tier specs. And it supports secondary modules via a magnetic connector on the back so you don’t have “to buy new dongles, chargers, and accessories every time your phone is upgraded.”
Rubin’s $699 Essential phone — which is exclusive to the US for now — boasts of very durable titanium and ceramic body (with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front), and a 5.7-inch edge-to-edge screen with an unusual 19:10 aspect ratio instead of the regular 16:9. The phone, like Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, doesn’t have a distinct forehead and only the chin. The selfie camera – an 8-megapixel sensor capable of recording 4K videos – rests at the top though, unlike in the Mi Mix where it is tucked away at the bottom.
Speaking of specs, the Essential phone has a 2K screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor clubbed with 4 gigs of RAM and 128GB of memory (non-expandable) under the hood and a 3,040mAh battery with fast charging. It comes with a dual camera system — 13MP+13MP — wherein one of the sensors is RGB and the other monochrome. The dual system – according to Rubin’s company (also called Essential) — can take in more light and hence aid in better low light photos.
Erstwhile, the Essential phone supports Bluetooth 5.0 and USB Type-C for charging and data syncing. There is no 3.5mm audio jack on-board however.
Although Rubin’s Essential phone is modular like Lenovo’s Moto Z, his company – for now – has just the one module that is compatible with it. The module – a 360 degree camera – can snap on to its back much like how Moto Mods snap on to the Moto Z. Essential’s 360 degree camera – consisting of two 12MP fisheye lenses – will cost buyers $199, although there’s an option to buy it along with the phone as well. The phone plus the camera module will be available for $749 for a limited period.