Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, has officially revealed a design-focused gadget company called Essential Products, that purportedly could be the next great tech superpower a la Apple, Samsung and Amazon. The company announced its first two products: a true iPhone competitor and a smart home speaker that has the looks and AI to take on the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
The smartphone — simply named Essential — is a premium device designed to go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 7, Samsung S8 and Google Pixel. The device has all the high-end guts you’d expect: a Qualcomm 835 processor and a superb dual-camera system. Expect the phone to run stock Android with zero bloatware, just like the Pixel. Despite its competitive price ($699), the Essential Phone isn’t designed to be mass produced; according to Wired, Rubin wants Essential Products to be more like “a high-end watchmaker, not a commodity gadget builder.”
Aesthetically, the Essential phone is distinctly minimalistic with zero logos. Its nearly bezel-less display, according to The Verge, reaches all the way to the top of the phone. (The Galaxy S8 doesn’t do that.), and its titanium-and-ceramic body will be strong enough to survive a drop test. It will also be compatible with several modular accessories, such as 360-degree cameras and wireless charging docks. It’s an interesting decision, giving the mixed reception of other modular smartphones, like the Moto Z and the now-antiquated LG G5. Another interesting decision: the Essential won’t have a headphone jack.
Essential Products also announced its take on the smart speaker, the Essential Home. The smart device has a large circular touchscreen display and will answer your questions via its own virtual assistant (name unknown) akin to Google Assitant or Alexa. Essential claims its device will be more secure than an Echo or Google Home because its software, named Ambient OS, will keep information private on your local network instead of the Cloud. The Essential Home will apparently work with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, and likely all compatible smart home devices (including Nest and Samsung SmartThings). Little more is known about the device as of yet, except that it should be available later this year.
Also, you can watch Andy Rubin himself speaking tonight at 9PM EST — link here.