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07 Jul 2017
13 Sep 2013
News  Handsets & Devices
Essential Smartphone

He's fathered a new Android

What do you do once you've revolutionised mobile by creating an operating system used by  4 out of every 5 smartphones on the planet?

Best known as the guy who made Android via his startup bought out by Google in the mid 2000's, Andy Rubin is back - and he's got something Essential to show you. He's launched not only a new Android smartphone, but also smart home device to rival the Amazon Echo/Google Home etc, plus a totally new OS called "Ambient".

The name of the new company behind all this is "Essential", and this time he's unashamedly got his sights on "fixing" the problems todays smart technology ecosystem faces.

These devices adapt

After creating Android, Andy worked for a few years at Google heading up its robotics division. The intricacies of small-scale fine engineering clearly wasn't lost on him - the new smartphone design is modular, meaning you can upgrade it later by swapping in new hardware. This is potentially a risky move, because LG are still smarting from the failure of a line of handsets featuring exactly that strategy Andy showed off the first modular accessory at the launch - a 360° camera of the kind Google strap to the roof of their Streetview cars, but in the palm of your hand.

$300m investment - so far

The smartphone costs $699 and is only currently available in the US. Here's what Andy had to say about Essential at the launch:

Unique display

essential phone 200x450

A few high end handsets have featured edge-to-edge displays recently, but none have done what the Essential has and actually cut part of it out to let the front-facing camera see through. The downside is the Android skin Essentail has added to this device features their own status bar which, you guessed it, has a spac in the middle. The regular Android status bar is below it and runs full  width. This is another way of saying the status bar looks twice as high as on other Android devices.

The screen size is 5.71" with a resolution of 2560 x 1312 - don't you just love these crazy aspect ratios - in this case it's 19:10. The dual rear cameras feature a 13 megapixel colour sensor with a mono one for improved low-light photography.

Powered by the mighty Snapdragon 835 CPU, with 4GB internal RAM and 128GB of storage, a fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C port and a 3k mAh battery, you can see why this beast is commanding a premium price and being dubbed the best smartphone available, anywhere.

Accessories attach via magnetiism and a set of pogo pins, and the 360 camera has 4 microphones and Essential is claiming it it the worlds smallest "360° camera".

He's created another OS: "Ambient"

When we first heard about "Ambient OS", the new operating system from Essential, we wondered if this was going to power the smartphone itself. This appears not to be the case though, as there was another device announced intended to rival Amazon's Echo and Google Home called "Essential Home" which it is used on. Launching a whole new smartphone operating system today is nigh on impossible, the entrenched ecosystems of Google and Apple have seen off Nokia, Blackberry and even Microsoft so it's a prudent move on Essential's part to stick with Android for their smartphone.

Essential Home puts privacy first. It's claimed it can be activated by voice, with a tap of even "a glance". Having an IoT device completes the set of a very ambitious range of devices from Andy - but that's exactly what you'd expect from Android's Daddy now, isn't it?