After months of teases, Co-Android creator Andy Rubin has unveiled the first smartphone by his new company, Essential. As expected, the PH-1 is built to be a no-compromise device with top-of-the-line specs and sophisticated industrial design. Taking center stage is a 5.7-inch, edge-to-edge display that rises to the top of the phone, stopping only for the front-facing camera in the middle. The device is made of titanium and ceramic, which the company claims will trump most aluminium phones in the durability department. It’s a sleek look with no logos or branding in sight.Inside is the usual flagship Android components: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 3040mAh battery and 128GB of internal storage. More intriguing are the two holes on the back which can be used to attach Essential-made accessories. The most exciting is a tiny 360-degree camera, which can shoot a spherical UHD (3840×1920) image at 30 frames per second. There will also be a charging dock, should you prefer a cradle to the normal dangling cable. The general concept is similar to Motorola’s Moto Mods, which brought modular customisation to the Moto Z line.
The Essential Phone’s built-in camera is, at least on paper, promising too. Rubin’s company has opted for a dual-camera setup similar to Huawei’s P9 and P10, with a sensor dedicated to monochrome imaging. It can be used standalone for black and white photos, or combined with the color sensor for improved detail and low-light performance. The front-facing camera, meanwhile, is an 8-megapixel snapper capable of shooting 4K video.
There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack (pulling a APPLE). It’ll ship with a dongle, however, so all of your regular buds and cans will work, provided you’re ready to embrace the #donglelife. Instead, Essential is banking on USB-C and, like Apple, Bluetooth connectivity. The phone will come in four different colors — Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White and Ocean Depths — and ship for $699, or $749 with a bundled 360-degree camera. You can pre-order today but there’s no word on when the phone will ship or otherwise be on sale.
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