Andy Rubin

Former Android chief unveils edge-to-edge phone and Echo-like speaker

Andy Rubin, the guy who came up with Android, today announced his new smartphone post-Google, featuring an edge-to-edge display that one-ups Samsung's Galaxy S8, in addition to an Amazon Echo-like appliance with on-device intelligence.

Both products debuted from Rubin's new company, Essential.

Essential Phone, as it's called, runs Android and has a 5.71-inch QHD edge-to-edge display with Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The display extends all the way to the the top of the device and wraps around the front-facing camera.

The Echo rival, called Essential Home, features compatibility with Apple's HomeKit framework and other software platforms for the connected home.

Both products can be pre-ordered today.

Essential Phone

Encased in a titanium body with a ceramic back, Essential Phone can survive a drop test “without blemish, unlike the aluminum competitor devices,” says the company. The premium smartphone with a high-resolution 5.71-inch, 2,560-by-1,312 pixel display is powered by Qualcomm's eight-core Snapdragon 835 processor with four gigabytes of RAM.

Essential Phone lacks the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and uses Bluetooth 5.0 and USB-C.

Customers will be able to use any Bluetooth or USB-C-based headset with the phone. The Verge has learned that Essential Phone will ship with a headphone dongle in the box.

Other features include a magnetic connector on the back side for connecting accessories like a new 360-degree camera, a 13-megapixel dual-lens camera with a second lens using a monochrome sensor for better low-light shots, an eight-megapixel selfie camera with 4K video capture, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and other perks.

According to the company, the magnetic connector was designed with modularity in mind, to help keep Essential Phone “cord-free, future-proof and always up-to-date".

Essential Home

Built on the open-source Ambient OS software which can automatically discover and use new devices on its network, Essential Home has a built-in round display at the top which can be turned on just by glancing at it (or by tapping or using your voice) to quickly see contextual information.

The accessory uses on-device artificial intelligence rather than offload AI features to the cloud. Like with Apple's AI implementation, such an approach helps preserve user privacy. Its proactive assistant will support notifications and reminders with contextual information displayed on the built-in screen.

Essential Home should support Nest and SmartThings devices for the connected home. According to Wired, it will feature hooks for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.


Essential Phone will be available in Black, Gray, White and Ocean Depths colors. At the time of this writing, only white models were able for pre-order. The contract-free phone costs $699.

Essential's 360-degree camera currently costs $50, but the price will eventually increase to $199. Pricing for Essential Home is yet to be announced, but we do know that the device will ship later this summer.

Andy Rubin is schedule to give a talk later today at Recode's Code Conference.

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