Andy Rubin, co-founder of the Android operating system, and more recently overseer of Boston Dynamic’s robotic efforts has returned to his Android roots to create a new phone-centered ecosystem of gadgets from his new company Essential. Make note of that name, you’ll be hearing it a lot – seriously, a lot.
The new phone is the Essential PH-1 (because I assume, if it were the PH-0 you’d be thinking of noodle soup instead of a phone). It’s definitely in line with 2017’s other flagship phones. The LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and the upcoming iPhone 8. Minimal bezels, sleek industrial design, fast processors, loads of memory/storage, fewer hardware buttons, heightened security features and big screens!
The screen itself is 5.71″ and has a bite taken out of the upper center of it to allow the front camera and sensors through. To make this less intrusive, the status bar has been enlarged so that this bite isn’t obscuring anything needed. However, it does mean that apps that allow the status bar to move off screen to provide a full-screen display – probably shouldn’t bother to do that on this phone. The bezels are very thin. Reminding me of the Sharp Aquos.
The rear of the phone has a matched pair of POGO pins with magnetic connections for use with add-on modules and the recharging dock (which uses the pins instead of wirelessly recharging). You’ll also find two cameras and a LED flash.
The phone’s frame and edges are titanium – to provide stronger protection against drops, but oddly enough, the phone isn’t waterproof. A strange omission in a 2017 flagship device.
It’s all running the latest Android Nougat release 7.1.1 and based on what little we’ve seen it appears to have some minor enhancements at most so, hopefully, it can more easily update to new Android OS releases. There’s a strong focus on encryption and security features as well.
Essential boasts that this is the smallest 360-degree camera available. Based on the supplied specs it is certainly the smallest we’ve seen so far. However, it’s resolution looks to be lower than the 4k resolution of its competitor the Samsung Gear 360 (2017).
If you’re pre-ordering, you can also add in the 360-degree camera module for only $50. If you’re going to get this phone, you should definitely spring for this camera. Small, powerful, and easy to quickly attach to the PH-1.
Height: < 67mm
Width: < 32mm
Thickness: < 12 mm (body)
Weight: < 35grams
Microphone: 4x microphones in 3D, ambisonic tetrahedral arrangement
Sensor Resolution: Dual 12MP fisheye imagers
Lens aperture: f1.8
FOV: 210° (each)
Video Resolutions: 360° UHD (3840 x 1920) at 30fps
60GHz Wireless, SuperSpeed USB
2x accessory power pins
System Architecture / OS
Powered by Ambient OS (which I’m going to guess is probably an Android variant) this is promising to be a new competitor to Android Home and Amazon Echo. It features a round display and promises to work with the other. The text on this hints that it will automatically discover other Smarthome devices and configure itself to work with them. Hopefully, this is also suggesting that it might work with Google Home and Amazon Echo and become a bridge between all these products.
Not much else is known about this at this time but in reviewing the renders I hope that it might also be wall-mountable.