Essential could be the future of modular Android phones

Following a teaser a few months ago, we finally have all the details on Andy Rubin’s new Android device, the Essential Phone. It was an ambitious project, not your run-of-the-mill smartphone and is unsurprisingly taking on the modular fight. By the early looks of it, it’s in with a good chance.

Expect top-of-the-line specs and features at a reasonable price of $699. The Essential Phone sports a beautiful edge-to-edge display, unlike even Samsung’s Galaxy S8 where the screen wraps around the front-facing camera. With only a short bezel at the bottom of the phone, the entire device is a beautiful QHD screen.

Body and specs

It’s a beautifully designed phone that reminds me of the Pixel when looking at the overall shape. It looks like a solid shape with little to no curves, made using a combination of titanium and ceramic. The makers say the superior quality of these elements over the popularly used aluminium protects the phones from scratches and dents. Essential has done drop tests comparing its phone to Apple and Samsung products and the results show 0 scratches on the Essential Phone compared to the competition.

The phone sports no visible logos anywhere, a first of its kind. We can expect a pure version of Android that may even rival OnePlus’ popular take on Vanilla Android. Coming from the creator himself, I’m very excited about the potential OS baked into this phone. It packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The battery is a decent 3,040mAh and supports fast charging. It has a USB Type-C port and interestingly has skipped the headphone jack, though it will ship with a headphone dongle.

The device measures 5.71 inches diagonally with a QHD screen, almost bezel-less and a resolution of 2560×1312 pixels.

Camera

The Essential Phone has an interesting dual camera system where the second lens is used as a monochrome sensor, similar to Huawei’s latest phones. Most phones use their second lens for bokeh or as a telephoto lens. The monochrome sensor allows the camera to take in more light than traditional cameras. Expect great low-light snaps, something every phone manufacturer is now trying to take on. The rear dual camera is a 13MP snapper while the front is 8MP, both able to capture video at 4K.

Accessories

Essential has a seemingly great phone on its hands but it isn’t stopping there. It wants to create an ecosystem of accessories, similar to what Motorola and LG have aspired to. The phone comes equipped with a magnetic connector and wireless data transfer. Essential will ship a 360-degree camera that can click on to the top of the phone, which it claims is the “world’s smallest 360-degree personal camera”. It will also offer a charging dock for the phone. Both will connect to the phone using small metal pogo pins. Charging docks aren’t the norm for phones, but a well-designed one could create a new trend.

Price and availability

You can reserve the Essential Phone through its website for $699 or get it with the 360-degree camera for an extra $50. It comes in 4 beautiful variations: black moon, stellar grey, pure white and ocean depths. Essential CEO Andy Rubin announced at Recode’s Code Conference the phone will ship as soon as June. It only ships to US addresses for now but won’t be long until it finds its way to our sandy shores.