Andy Rubin’s Essential debuts its $699 bezel-less phone and privacy-centric home assistant

4 min read

Andy Rubin, the man who created Android, has just announced his brand-new smartphone. It’s called the Essential Phone, and while there are some aspects of it that look very similar to other 2017’s flagships we’ve seen so far, there are other factors that are quite different than anything else currently available.

A big, bezel-less display

One of those differentiating factors has to do with the Essential Phone’s display. The screen measures in at 5.71-inches on the diagonal, and it also comes with a unique aspect ratio of 19:10. This puts the shape of the display more in line with the 18:9 aspect ratios found on the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, and this allows the Essential Phone to pack a larger screen size into a more manageable body. When compared to the iPhone 7 Plus’s height of 6.23-inches and width of 3.07-inches, the Essential Phone is quite a bit smaller with respectable dimensions of 5.57 and 2.8-inches.

In addition to the new aspect ratio, the Essential Phone’s display also does something cool with the way that it wraps around the front-facing camera sensor. The camera is placed at the very top of the phone’s body in the very middle, and the screen curves around it to create for a really cool aesthetic.

While having a front-facing camera that takes up part of your phone’s display might sound like a nightmare at first, Andy Rubin played it smart here. There’s often nothing showcased in the center of the status bar for Android phones, and because of the 19:10 aspect ratio for the display, it’s likely that the placement of the camera won’t interfere with any of your content consumption either.

Modularity and saying goodbye to aluminum

Flip the Essential Phone over. and you’ll find a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, dual-lens camera system, and two odd circles that you won’t see on other smartphones. These two circles serve as connectors for modular attachments for the Essential Phone, and the first one that the company has created is a 360-degree camera. This new camera (and future Essential Phone accessories) connects to these two circular connection ports and stays attached to the phone via magnets.

There’s currently no word as to what other smart accessories will make their way to this new modular system, but when looking at what Motorola has done so far with its Moto Mod system, it’s possible that we could see add-on speakers, battery packs, and more make their way to this new modular platform for the Essential Phone.

Also worth noting here is the build quality. Unlike most premium handsets that are currently available, the Essential Phone uses a titanium frame around its body. Titanium is much more durable than the aluminum that’s found on phones such as the iPhone 7, HTC U11, etc., and it should allow the Essential Phone to withstand nasty falls and drops considerably better than its competition.

Essential Home

In addition to the Essential Phone, Andy Rubin also took the wraps off of his direct competitor to the Amazon Echo Show. This new smart-home gadget is called the Essential Home, and it features a gorgeous circular display that can be activated by touching it, saying a command, or even just by looking at it.

The Essential Home runs a brand new operating system called Ambient OS, and along with looking super fluid and pretty, Andy Rubin and his team are taking a serious stand on security with it and Essential Home. As per Essential’s Business Unit Lead for Home Devices, Dwipal Desai:

Your home is your private space and we want to make sure that your privacy is taken seriously. We designed Essential Home to directly talk to your devices over your in-home network as much as possible in order to limit sending data to the cloud. Essential Home’s proactive assistant also runs its AI engine locally on the device.

This security-centric approach to the whole smart home game is one that we haven’t really seen before, and when you combine that with the fact that Essential Home will work with SmartThings, HomeKit, Nest, and other major platforms, we could be looking at a very enticing option when compared to Google Home and Amazon Echo.

How much will all of this cost?

In regards to Essential Home, we currently don’t have any idea how much the gadget will sell for. The device should start shipping later this summer, and if pricing is to be similar to other smart-home gadgets along these lines, we can probably expect the price of admission to be around $150 to $250.

As for the Essential Phone, you can pre-order it now from Essential’s website for $699. At that price, you’re getting the Essential Phone with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 128GB of storage, USB Type-C, and Android for the OS (we don’t know exactly what version quite yet, but it’s probably Nougat).

For an additional $50, you can get the 360-degree camera that mounts to the back of the phone. This will bring your total price up to $749, but seeing as how the camera will cost $199 when purchased on its own, that’s not bad at all.

Andy Rubin is entering a very competitive and crowded market with the Essential Phone. Trying to dethrone or at least stand side-by-side with the likes of Apple, Samsung, and LG is no easy task, but if the Essential Phone performs half as good as it looks, we could be in for a real treat.