The Essential phone was introduced yesterday, 05/31/2017, followed by a rather weird interview last evening with Andy Rubin, CEO and founder of Essential Products (and the person who created Android). The interview, on the Recode YouTube channel was conducted by Walt Mossberg, quite well known for his many interviews with movers and shakers both inside and out of the tech community. Case in point, today he was involved with a Hillary Clinton interview.
So, Walt is not only not new to this, he is also about to retire, after a long and distinguished interview career, if I may call it that. But, many found the interview with Rubin, very confrontational, somewhat belligerent and generally non-informative. Why no normal Event? Who knows?
But, back to the Essential phone. It’s an intriguing device that’s following in the “new” standard first set by LG in the G6 and Samsung in the S8, which are 18:9 and 18.5:9 displays respectively. The Essential display is 19:10, meaning another phone giving a lot of screen in a more hand-friendly form factor. But, that’s not all that separates this device from other high-end phones. It’s an almost bezel-less edge-to-edge display with some bezel at the bottom of the display. The most outstanding part of the front display is the front-facing camera that is smack in the center of the top of the device with the display wrapping around it. It certainly looks different.
It sports a Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. The device has a ceramic back, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front wrapped in a titanium body. It SHOULD be very tough and able to withstand more drops than most. The rear camera has dual 13-megapixel lenses, one color, one monochrome, much like the Huawei P9, P10 and Mate 9. The idea being to be able to capture more light making low-light shots much better. The front-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor that is capable of 4K video.
There is no headphone jack, but it will ship with a headphone dongle in the box, once again making it look like headphone jacks may soon become a thing of the past, where high-end smartphones are concerned. On the rear of the device adjacent to the cameras are two magnetic connectors to accommodate accessories that can be attached to the phone wirelessly. The first being a 360-degree camera that clicks to the connectors and receives power from the phone and includes wireless data transfer. The device is powered through the USB-C port at the bottom and a dock will be included. No real bloatware is expected, since Andy Rubin seemed to indicate that the Essential phone is more-or-less pure Android.
All of this sounds promising and $699 seems to be a reasonable price for a device with such top-of-the-line specs. And, the 360 camera can be added when you pre-order for $50. If you’re interested head over to Essential Products, Inc. to reserve yours. There is no official release date, so you’ll only be giving your contact info. Andy Rubin seemed to indicate that the Essential phone and camera SHOULD be available by the end of this month (June). We’ll find out if that is the case.
I should also mention that Rubin has developed an ecosystem, separate from Android that is expected to be in future versions of the Essential phone, along with other products. He also said that Essential will be offering a Google Home and Amazon Alexa competitor in the near future that will be able to communicate with Siri and Google Assistant. No word on when we may see this product come to market though.
There are already many stories and articles expecting this to be a great success for Rubin or a failure, due to the saturated market and dominance of Samsung, Apple and Google in this high-end space. Certainly, Essential is banking on the Andy Rubin name to carry it to some degree of success. We’ll need to wait and see what develops, but I find Essential fascinating. How about you?
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