The Essential Phone, coming from the workshop of Android creator Andy Rubin, is finally out after months of teasing. And it’s probably the most exciting smartphone launch in years.
The phone is a looker: Titanium on the back, an enormous screen on the front, extending all the way to the top and broken only by the phone’s selfie camera. The screen actually wraps around the camera, which could be a horrible idea but for now we can only say that it looks cool.
It comes with a set of top-notch specs: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 2560 x 1312 pixel resolution (that’s a 19:10 ratio, so different from both the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8), 4GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel dual rear camera coupled with an 8-megapixel selfie cam, a fingerprint sensor on the back, 128GB of storage, a 3,040mAh battery.
But even more interesting than the specs, which are in line with but not above today’s top smartphones, is the phone’s modularity. On the back, it has a magnetic connector with wireless data transfer; accessories such as the company’s 360-degree camera (also launched on Tuesday), snap to it magnetically and are automatically connected to the phone.
That titanium case isn’t just for looks. Essential claims the phone is more resilient to drops than major competitors *cough* iPhone and Galaxy S8 *cough*, and backs it up with a drop test video which shows the phone emerge from a drop absolutely unscathed.
The phone only has one connector, of the USB-C variety; sorry, no headphone jack here.
Finally, if you look closely, you’ll see that the Essential Phone doesn’t have any sort of logo to distinguish it from other devices (it does come in four colors, though: black, white, grey and blue). This is intentional. Company founder Andy Rubin believes that “devices are your personal property” and promises the company won’t force you to have “anything on them you don’t want to have.” Hopefully this includes bloatware.
Essential also promises to “play well with others,” in contrast with closed ecosystems which are “divisive and outdated.” Finally, the company believes devices “shouldn’t become outdated every year;” instead, “they should evolve with you.”
The Essential Phone costs $699 unlocked, and is available for pre-order in the U.S. A bundle with the 360-degree camera is also available for the promotional price of $749.