Android creator Andy Rubin has been teasing his next project for some time, and now the Essential Phone has been unveiled.
A preview of the phone, published by The Verge and which arrived ahead of the official launch, shows the handset to be an impressive offering that might just give Samsung and Apple pause.
Among the striking features are an edge-to-edge display that goes even further than the Galaxy S8’s screen, and a modular design.
Yes, the Essential Phone is betting on modular functionality, following some high profile failures in that space (LG’s G5 didn’t quite have the impact the company hoped).
The new phone brings with it a couple of accessories that can be attached to the handset via a magnetic connector and wireless data transfer.
Those accessories inclue a 360-degree camera that attaches to the top of the phone via the pogo pins, with the company said to be working on a charging dock set to launch in the future.
All of which is great, but when it comes to the standard stuff, such as hardware and design, the Essential Phone seems to be a serious contender in the smartphone market.
First up, the handset comes with a titanium and ceramic build which will apparently hold up better during drops than handsets from the big manufacturers – at least, according to Andy Rubin.
The edge-to-edge display leaves minimal bezels on the side and top of the phone’s front, with a small bezel at the bottom and a cutout for the front facing camera at the top.
That means the screen takes up more room on the front of the phone than on both the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8.
According to the report, the software will adapt itself around the front-facing camera cutout, never showing notification icons on that part of the screen.
Round the back, you’ll find a dual-camera setup whereby the second lens is used as a monochrome sensor – the same thing found on Huawei’s P9 and P10.
That monochrome sensor takes in more light than a traditional option, and combines with the 13-megapixel standard sensor to improve low-light performance.
The front-facing shooter is a modest 8-megapixel offering, but on the plus side, it is apparently capable of shooting 4K video.
Internally, the company has packed the phone with the latest Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage – so it should be plenty fast and able to compete with the big phones of 2017.
And in what could be seen as a somewhat controversial move, Essential has opted to follow Apple and leave out the 3.5mm jack – though an adapter is said to be included with the phone.
The company will be launching its new handset over in the states for $699 (about £545) to begin with, according to the report, but if it proves popular, we could see the handset arriving in other markets in the future.
Andy Rubin will officially launch the phone tonight at the Code Conference, and is scheduled to hit the stage at 6PM PT/9PM ET – that’s 2am Wednesday morning in the UK.