Rubin hopes to differentiate the $699 smartphone from its many competitors with features like a magnetic port for accessories and a titanium design. The company has not yet announced when the new phone will begin shipping.
One of the Essential phone’s standout features is a magnetic wireless data transfer feature meant to keep accessories from being made obsolete by new connection standards. The concept is similar to Motorola’s “Moto Mods,” custom accessories that attach to certain Motorola phones through a magnetic connector. Essential’s first add-ons include a 360-degree camera and a charging dock.
“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,” Rubin wrote in a blog post outlining Essential’s goals in developing new gadgets.
Essential’s smartphone will also include a USB Type-C port (like most new Android phones) and is powered by a 3,040 mAh battery. That’s larger than those included in the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel, but slightly smaller than the Galaxy S8+ and Pixel XL’s batteries.
Essential is claiming that the phone’s titanium body won’t scratch, dent, or bend. It’s so confident of this, in fact, that it’s not even selling cases for the device. And like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, Essential’s phone includes an edge-to-edge screen with nearly invisible bezels, aiming to offer a more spacious display while keeping the device comfortable to hold. The borders around the screen are so thin that it looks like a portion of the display wraps around the front facing camera. The phone’s camera system uses two sensors, one color and one monochrome, resulting in photos with up to 200% more color than the average smartphone camera, says Essential.
If the Essential’s offering is just as durable and easily customizable as the company claims, it could give manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung some tough competition. But it will have to fully deliver on those promises to stand out in a market that’s already largely dominated by giants like Samsung and Huawei, which together account for 30% of smartphone shipments worldwide, according to research firm IDC. Android fans, however, might find plenty to like in a high-end handset without the clutter of other similar phones.