Android founder's Essential phone mashes up iPhone design with Samsung accessories

Andy Rubin, founder of Android, has launched a new phone company called Essential, offering a sleek smartphone and home hub device.

Video: Android's founder has a new smartphone venture

Android co-founder Andy Rubin is officially back in the smartphone game with a new company called Essential. The flagship device, with its modern design and unique accessories, could make it a great phone for business professionals who work in the Android ecosystem.

The phone, formally known as the Essential PH-1, features an edge-to-edge 5.71" screen that Essential calls its Full Display. According to the company's website, the screen has 10 finger multitouch capabilities and a fingerprint reader as well.

The PH-1 comes with 128GB of storage and runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip. It has a USB C port, but no 3.5 mm headphone jack. The phone is also built with a titanium body and ceramic back, which the website said makes it more durable as well.

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Much like Motorola's Moto Mods, that introduced with its Moto Z phone, Essential has a similar line of accessories that connect via magnets on the phone's body. So far, the website shows a phone charging dock and a small 360 camera.

The phone has an 8MP front camera, and a dual camera setup on the back of the phone. The core camera is a 13MP Dual RGB camera, and an additional Mono camera could help in low-light situations.

The Essential PH-1 has the hardware necessary for most network bands, so it will likely work with most major carriers in the US, where it is initially launching. It also has NFC capabilities as well, the website said.

A big part of the Essential design is the fact that no logos are present on the handset. "Just because we played a part in making it doesn't mean you should be forced to advertise that fact to everyone in your life," the website said.

This seems to be a bigger part of the mission that will shape the design of the phone, and maybe the approach to the OS as well. "Devices are your personal property. We won't force you to have anything on them you don't want to have," Rubin wrote in a blog post.


The Essential PH-1 comes in four colors.

Image: Essential

Another tenet of Essential's approach will be an open ecosystem. "We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated," Rubin wrote in the post.

Debuted alongside the phone is the Essential Home, a smart home hub that displays relevant information. The home uses what Essential calls the Ambient OS to find and connect to other smart home products, and make it easier to get connected.

The Essential PH-1 phone costs $699, or $749 if purchased with the 360 camera. The Home is not yet available for sale.

The premium Android market is crowded, to say the least. However, the Essential PH-1 is a fairly unique take on an Android handset, and offers the top-shelf design and functionality that could make it a serious contender for professionals and business executives who are looking for a new smartphone.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The Essential PH-1 is a new smartphone from Andy Rubin with an edge-to-edge display and snap-on magnetized accessories.
  2. The phone has premium appointments, and no logos. Essential also takes an open approach to its ecosystem to "play well with others."
  3. Essential is also working on Essential Home, a smart home hub that will connect to all of your connected devices.

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