Andy Rubin announces his new Essential smartphone to compete with the iPhone

The man who created the Android operating system is back in the spotlight with a new phone that is designed to compete with the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

After months of sneak peeks on Twitter, Andy Rubin and his new company, Essential, on Tuesday announced the Essential phone, which has been highly anticipated by his fans and smartphone aficionados. Also known as PH-1, the phone is an Android device on a 5.71-inch screen — a tiny bit bigger than the iPhone Plus.

Rubin writes in his blog that the Essential is a personal passion project that came from his frustrations at the current state of technology, especially with smartphones. As the founder of Android, Rubin says he felt personally liable for the rise of bloatware, closed ecosystems and short smartphone expiration dates that make them look outdated.

“For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives,” wrote Rubin. “Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?”

Despite going for timelessness, the Essential Phone is as experimental as a smartphone can get. Despite the giant screen, the Essential Phone is nearly bezel-less, meaning the screen covers almost the entire front side of the phone. It also comes with a magnetic connector in the back, which allows the phone to be wirelessly attached to its accessories rather than needing a USB cable.

The magnetic connector can do many things, wirelessly charging the phone from its charging dock to attaching a 360-degree, fish-eye lens camera.

The 360-degree, fish-eye camera connects to the Essential phone through its magnetic connector in the back. (Courtesy Essential)

The phone comes equipped with a 13-megapixel camera on the rear and a 8-megapixel one on the front. And like the new iPhones, to the disappointment of some, the Essential does not come with a headphone jack. (The phone will come with a headphone jack dongle.)

The Essential is supposed to be devoid of pre-packaged apps, which allows users free rein on maximizing its impressive 4GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. In line with its principle of simplicity and cleanliness, the Essential also has no logo on its exterior.

Essential also boasts its phone’s titanium and ceramic exterior will provide better drop protection than phones with just titanium exteriors, like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

The phone starts at $699 and is without a specific launch date. In addition to the smartphone announcement, Rubin and his team announced Essential Home speaker project, a home speaker that is compatible with the Essential Phone and looks to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Essential is expected to release more information in the coming months.

Photo: Android founder Andy Rubin released the first phone from his new company, Essential, on Tuesday. (Courtesy Essential)


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  • Martin Cohen

    I still want a landscape slider keyboard. Please.