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Andy Rubin unveils Essential phone

Andy Rubin, perhaps best known for developing Android, has been quite busy since he left Google in 2014. In 2015, he founded a new company called Playground Global, a tech incubator which focused on hardware startups, particularly in relation to AI and machine learning.

As part of that incubator, Andy also created Essential Products, a company which was focused on fast-tracking the evolution of smartphones.

Andy has been in the tech game for many decades and has a reputation for being at the forefront of the industry, bringing out fresh ideas into life instead of waiting around for someone else to do so.

Over the years, he has apparently grown a distaste for the way Apple and Google have approached their respective ecosystems. Android was meant to be an open platform, for example, yet Google has increasingly adopted Apple’s walled-garden approach.

Aside from his belief in the open platform, Andy wanted to create a company that would ooze innovation in the tech industry, a company that could recreate and surpass Apple’s original success, that could essentially serve as the catalyst through which hundreds of products could be born.

The first step to that is apparently the Essential smartphone. The $699 flagship is a modular phone which can be modified with additional accessories. According to Andy, it is supposed to represent a high-end design, a unique approach that will slowly bring them into market.

Essential Phone

Something that everyone will (inevitably) talk about is the front-face design of the phone. As you can see in the picture above, the display warps around the front-facing camera.

This design is undoubtedly strange. However, it might actually be an interesting addition and I am guessing that users will not notice it after a while.

One of the main ideas behind the phone is that people will be able to personalize it to fit their needs. Instead of everyone having an iPhone or the latest Samsung Galaxy, they will be able to customize a phone according to their actual habits.

The first example of modular accessories is a 360-degree camera which will ship with the device. It can be attached on the top of the phone and provide an easy and obviously affordable way of capturing 360 videos.

There are other things that the phone does differently too. For instance, it has abolished the headphone jack in favor of an additional headphone dongle that can be swapped out when the need arises.

Another intriguing feature is the magnetic dock in the back, comprised by a total of two pins on the back. Any accessory that Essential makes now or in the future will use the same kind of connectors, which means that it will be future-proof, even if their future phones (or other products) look nothing like they do today.

And Essential does have a lot of plans for the future. After the phone is shipped, the company will focus on its own smart home platform. Furthermore, Andy wants to create a universal OS that will power every single product that Essential will make later on.

Of course, all of these grand plans will take time. For now, Essential and Andy are fine with focusing on the eponymous phone. And though it certainly does not have mass appeal, that’s exactly what the team is aiming for; an exclusive phone for enthusiasts.

A full interview with some interesting tidbits can also be viewed below, courtesy of Recode.


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