Are you buying into the hype of Andy Rubin's Essential Phone?

The Essential Phone — is it really that essential? And with Android smartphones seemingly generating more buzz than ever before, does Andy Rubin's Essential Phone have a chance against the current crop of competition?

If you're wondering what we're even talking about here, take a quick gander at some of what's promised with the Essential Phone: an edge-to-edge display, a modular system that accepts accessories like a 360-degree camera, and an entire phone chassis crafted out of titanium and ceramic. But what it doesn't have might make you tick, especially considering its $700 price tag. The Essential Phone is without wireless charging, water resistance, or a headphone jack. As commenter Retinella put it in the original announcement post:

No. No IPXX rating on a $700 device is an automatic no from me. You could say it's non-essential.

essential phone

The Essential Phone.

The smartphone isn't the only part of the equation. Essential also hopes to find a place inside your home with the aptly dubbed Essential Home. It's a definite competitor to the Google Home and Amazon Echo, with the main difference being an actual display that you can interact with. The brains of the Essential Home experience is Ambient OS, which helps assist with things like playing music, setting a timer, and answering questions—just like Google Home. From the Essential Home site:

The idea behind Essential Home is that technology is there, supportive, and proactive enough to be helpful, without forcing you to ask or type a question. It's in your environment; you can tap or glance at it, but it never intrudes or takes you away from the things that are important to you.

So, what do you think? Where do you stand on all this? Is the Essential Phone or Essential Home sounding essentially like something you'd want to adopt into your home?

Anyone read the news about the upcoming Essential Phone from Andy Rubin? Looks pretty intriguing, with an edge-to-edge display, Snapdragon 835, dual cameras, and a modular system that lets you attach accessories. Looks like it'll run Android (although the version is still unknown), and priced at $699 - it could be a good choice for many. What do you think? Would you be interested? Would you...

James Falconer

Et tu, Brute? Join us in the Android Central forums. And then be sure to tune in later today when Andy Rubin appears live at the Recode Code Conference to talk about the new endeavor.

Join the discussion in our forums!

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

207 Comments
  • Then this device is not for you, and was never intended for you, you have plenty of choices to choose from for what you are looking for, but none of them will have the build quality of this phone, but what would this new generation know about quality and fine craftsmanship.
    Not everyone takes selfies while taking a piss over the toilet bowl or in the shower, and for the longest time people never had issues with phones that where not water proof, do you know why, it's because they did not have them glued to their faces.
  • I would bet money the build quality will be no different between this phone and any other phone on the market. This isn't even water resistant which means it lacks the "build quality" of a lot of the phones already on the market.
  • I'm not sure that build quality and water resistance are related; also Essential hasn't said it isn't water resistant, they simply didn't mention it at all. We don't know yet.
  • S5, say no more
  • It's not like this is the first phone ever to be made from ceramic and titanium. LOL.
  • Why don't you tell us which other phones are made from titanium and ceramic, then?
  • Even if that person could (OnePlus X and Mi Mix are the only phones with ceramic that I can recall, while that space phone is the only titanium phone I can recall), they can't deny that titanium and ceramic make for great build quality...
  • Vertu had made phones from titanium and OnePlus had already made phones from ceramic. So no it's not like this is the first phone made. Lol. But whatever makes you feel better about yourself
  • From 2013 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/s/www.geek.com...
  • Hmm. Back in '98 I dropped my phone in the toilet. I wasn't even using it (the phone) at the time. It fell out of my pocket as I stood up. I would have loved for waterproof even back then. Also, you seem to know a lot about the build quality of this unreleased phone. Do you have some inside info that shows it will be better than the current crop from Samsung or other industry leaders?
  • You realise build quality and choice of material aren't the same? We don't actually know what the build quality on this is like and most phones, even a lot of budget ones, have good build quality anyway. Besides, HTC have excellent build quality. Look at the good it does then.
  • Build quality and build materials are definitely almost never related. Obviously the decisions made in either influence the other, but they're not interchangeable.
  • How could you possibly know the quality of a phone you've never even seen in person from a company that has never once made a phone? Come on, do we already have fanboys for a company that hasn't actually produced anything yet?
  • Haha yup! The fanboys are already in full force. Today was their born day.
  • Have they even announced where they are building this phone? More likely than not that it will be built in China.
  • +1
  • Almost certainly, but the only reason to think that necessarily means poor build is prejudice.
  • I have no problem with phones built in China, I was pointing out to the guy above who was saying all phones from China/Korea are rubbish that this phone is likely the same sort of thing.
  • Fair enough, then we agree. My apologies. Did he mention China specifically? I honestly can't tell... The comment rambles so much that my brain keeps deleting it straight after reading to preserve sanity points.
  • Wait what? I thought almost all phones are from China & Korea... Taiwan and Japan made some, but the majority of phones, good and bad, are from China and Korea.
  • I don't think you know why people don't like the way the front camera is positioned......
  • I love the design of this phone. The ceramic shines while I
    scratch resistant. add Titanium frame and it's a double whammy.
    specs are more than decent. the only thing missing is (for some) headphone jack and water resistance. I doubt that it will be a deal breaker for people shopping at this price range. Just curious to see what they projected to sell. I hope it's not crappy like launch of Google devices or OG 1+.
    if sold in stores in US they will sell like pancakes.
  • No, and not just because of the lack of water resistance or headphone jack. The front facing camera setup is plain ugly, and that's a lot of money to spend on a phone that doesn't do anything better or different from any other OEM. It's also a lot of money to spend on a company that may not be around in two year's time to keep supporting the phone.
  • The front facing camera is perfect and where it needs to be.
  • And the screen around it is not where it needs to be.
  • lol
  • I like that layout. It's less stupid than a screen which always has a blank space in the middle top, and then a camera above that.
    Plus I use my phone w/ a black background, so it won't be visible, or barely.
  • No blank space on the top of mine. So I guess I'm losing half my status bar with this phone. Super!
  • Half ?
  • Other than Google, I can't name an Android vendor that supports their device for more than one OS update, and sometimes not even that. So you're really asking a lot for 2 years of support. If you're meaning for warranty, almost every single item in existence that has a warranty has it handled through a third party. Furthermore, Andy Rubin is not going to be having a company that will go bankrupt anytime soon to where that's an issue. Speaking of water resistance; I have a Galaxy S8+, a Galaxy Gear S3, and an iPhone 7 Plus. All have IP68 rating, and guess what? None of the warranties cover water damage, so...it's all obviously a crapshoot for whether it's actually going to be water resistant or not, since the manufacturers don't even trust it enough to cover it under warranty.
  • The iPhone is IP67, BTW. No biggie, but just wanted to point it out.
  • "Other than Google, I can't name an Android vendor that supports their device for more than one OS update, and sometimes not even that. "
    Now you do:
    - Oneplus One released 4.x, current 6.x
    - Galaxy S6 released 5.x, current 7.x
    - LG G4 and V10 released 5.x, slated for 7.0 this summer I'm sure I could keep doing your job and find more OEMs and/or more models, but you're the one making fake claims unbacked by facts. Study up !
  • My HTC m9 is 2 years old and is running Nougat with April 2017 monthly update, officially from HTC and not a 3rd party ROM. So is my HTC 10. HTC build quality has been amazing and never had an issue with any of their phones. If you get the unlocked series of phones from them you get fast timely updates. My HTC 10 got Nougat in November 26th 2016 and m9 got it in January. Most other brands beside Google official are just getting their updates within the last 2 months or so
  • It's not that they don't trust it, it's because they have no way of knowing if you exceeded the resistance rating by exposing it to extreme conditions.
  • Nope. The screen (several things I hate about it) and lack of headphone jack are the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of how I feel it is going to sell poorly due to the price alone.
  • This is not meant to sell 50 million phones, it would never be able to be accomplished manufacturing wise, Apple wanted to build a phone out of titanium but did not, because they would never be able to mass produce it in the numbers that they sell their phones at, if they did you would never have had bend gate.
  • Okay, and? Why are you so adamant about defending this?
  • I think he works for them/has shares in the company. :P
  • It's Andy Rubin in disguise lol
  • You got me :). Trust me, Andy has no time to be on message boards, maybe Twitter, he is busy in board meetings.
  • Well he got you to do all the footwork.
  • Still loving my Z5 Premium made from stainless steel
  • More interested in an Android One device. Price is what's important to me.
  • If price is most important to you, why wouldn't you just buy a flagship device that is one-two generations old? Why pay the same amount for an underpowered device when you can get a really good device for the same price? I never understand this logic.
  • Yup. I've been on that bandwagon for a while now. Got a like new refurb S7 for $250. If you're patient, there are cheap and excellent phones that do almost everything out there already.
  • Depends on what you want. My brother-in-law just got an LG G4 because he wants good pictures, I got a Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro because it's cheaper, has more screen, battery, ooomph, TouchID, ....
  • Android One is marginal. When optimizing for price, I get Xiaomi stuff, it's nice hardware, and there's an active custom ROM community for when current Android starts to be a pain point, 4 years from now ^^
  • The phones has less of the features that I consider required and more of the features that I wouldn't find useful. It's a great looking phone however - at least in my opinion.
  • Nope
  • Not at this time.
  • I was hoping it was only 5.5 inch
  • Its just slightly taller than the Nexus 5. This thing is tiny!!!
  • I had to look at the height after your comment and I must say that I am shocked! I would have never guessed that it is actually shorter than the Pixel.
  • That's the most impressive aspect to me. If this phone influences anything I hope it's the realization that you can get a big screen in a body more compact than a LG G6 or S8 (neither of which is actually that compact).
  • I couldn't agree more on your whole comment.
  • You guys mean that this phone is actually shorter than the pixel? If that's the case then I'm back on!
  • If they learn to adapt to what customers actually want, as One Plus did, they may have a shot. But 700 dollars for offering the same thing as every other OEM, and then on top of that, ommiting features people want in 2017, is a non starter. Big ole fat NO from me.
  • No other phone company offers this type of quality phone, not even Apple, do you even know what type of materials are used too build this phone. Plus it will be as pure Android OS as the pure white snow, no gimmicks, nothing if the sort, you have plenty of cheap build Chinese/Korean hardware out there to choose from.
  • Do you have one? Can you offer any examples of how this phone has better build quality than other popular devices? It seems like you are buying in to the hype a bit too much. The materials used do not equal great build quality. The screen could fall out of this thing after a few weeks of normal use for all we know at this point.
  • LG is cheap? What kind of crack are you on?
  • I like the look of the phone and would possibly buy it, but damn bro, you're coming off as a huge fanboy and that instantly makes your arguments less valid. Are you bought in to the company or something because you're doing nothing but defending and spouting fanboy stuff.
  • I'm worried about you Cybertec69. Not enough to do during the day? Maybe a stroll outside will help or a job? Dunno.
  • Haha this phone just got announced and that dude is already defending it like he's been buying thier products for years.
  • Given the aspect ratio, it's going to be closer to a 5.5" phone than a 5.7" like the Nexus 6P.
  • I was hoping it would be all around bezel-less like those meizu renders we saw a while back. With the bottom chin, and that horrible canera cut out, paired with a decently high price tag, it's a no go for me. I will gladly wait for the Note 8, whos price is justified from that S-Pen alone.
  • This phone looks awesome. Not normally a big deal for if a phone doesn't have water resistance but since it has the titanium build it missed a huge opportunity to be the ultimate no case no worries phone. If it promises 2 years of fast updates it could be my next phone instead of the Pixel 2.
    Dear Google, please make the Pixel 2 out of titanium. Sincerely, I really hate cases
  • Dear Google, don't have another Chinese or Korean company who wants to sell phones under their own brand build one for you.
  • Idk I think HTC has always had very well-built hardware and seemed like a great company to build the Pixel. Plus I really don't think in HTC's current financial position that they could afford to purposely mess with Google. Though I heard the Pixel did have some hardware issues so you might be right...
  • HTC are Taiwanese are they not?
  • Yes they are Taiwanese, not from China. Also do not just say Korea... people need to specify South or North.
  • It still has a glass screen. Titanium ain't gonna prevent that from breaking. But a case can by absorbing energy when dropped.
  • What hype? Today's the first day we've really got a good look at the phone.
  • Rather have the OnePlus 5 that will probably be half the price..
  • I'll guess the OP5 will be $499. It will most definitely not be half the price, but I think it will still be the better buy.
  • I'm hearing $600, possibly more for OP5
  • With rumored specs I highly doubt that the OnePlus 5 will come in under $500 if anything closer to $600.
  • Nope. As long as there are other high end options I will never buy a device with a hole in the middle of the screen. It's distracting and really ugly. Very poor design choice.
    Coupled with the fact that for my needs this phone is missing too many modern conveniences for no good apparent reason (ip68, wireless charging, etc).
    Nice that they used titanium but as someone who doesn't drop their phone, it's an added price with no perceivable value for me. Restricts them from scaling as well. Will never be a sales competitor in the android world. If Andy wants this to be a nice hobby, this is a great phone but it sounds like he wants to be competitive.
  • Having a selfie camera is what is a poor design choice. No one needs to see your face. IMO luxury wireless phones should be built like luxury electric cars. Run for 2/3rd the time (in standby) of a midrange on that uses older tech and recharge in 8 hours at home using a proprietary charging station.
  • So get rid of the camera that people use equally to or more than the rear facing camera? Makes sense. You should start your own phone company.
  • More droids + more choice = Winning Cosumers
  • Yes.
  • The "concept photo" looks great. However, for the price, I would, as others, need: A headphone jack
    Water Resistance
    Wireless Charging. Now, if it was around mid pricing, I can look past those. But at this point, there are $300+ Samsung 7 Edges out there....
  • What's the big deal with water proofing? It was never a big deal with older phones but as soon as one company starts offering phones with this gesture, ask if a sudden it's a big deal. I'd rather have decent quality speakers over water proofing any day
  • The issue is that other manufacturers offer water resistance for the same if not lesser price. It's all about bang for buck.
  • When a phone costs 600USD and has no external jacks, it's reasonable to expect a degree of water resistance half as good as that of a $30 Casio watch that has the same number of buttons. A 30 minutes at 10M rating with no impact or button pressing would be fine, and also better than any other"water resistant" phone in production. It's basic re-engineering to incorporate rubber gaskets and seals, not hard to do if customers will accept visible screws. Commercial: I was so embarrassed that my phone had visible seams and screws, until it fell out of my pocket into a toilet. Now I'm just embarrassed that it smells like sh*t. "Infinity 2, a phone that takes a crappin' and keeps on textin'."
  • What's the big deal with air conditioning? It was never a big deal with older homes but as soon as one company starts offering homes with this feature, all of a sudden it's a big deal. I'd rather have decent quality windows over air conditioning any day.
  • That's the great thing about Android phones. There are plenty to choose from so get the best one that meets YOUR needs. Everybody wins!
  • Waterproofing was never a big deal with older phones because it was cumbersome. Sony used rubber gaskets in the beginning. Now, it's mostly just a matter of nano-coating all the parts. If LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony, etc. can do it, it's pretty much a standard feature for flagship phones. It's like automatic windows on cars. Older cars, you always had to roll the windows up and down. Now, it's standard feature to have automatic windows except for the very cheapest low quality cars.
  • There just isn't enough value here for the asking price. If it was less expensive, like $499-599, then it would at least get people thinking about it.
  • This is not some Chinese/Korean cheaply made drop it and it's a big mess phone, you have plenty of choices to choose from for that type of quality or lack thereof, and the included bloatware at no extra charge.
  • You've stated this numerous times.
    I'm not questioning build quality. I'm questioning price/features.
  • You pay for build quality.
  • Build quality alone will not sell well. The complete package of build quality, features, software quality/updates, and competitive pricing is the recipe for success. This isn't a bad phone by any means, but it needs just a little bit more.
  • The ceramic back will make a nice big mess when dropped. Super scratch resistant yes, but shatters incredibly easily.
  • Ceramic doesn't mean brittle. There are some ceramics that are incredibly tough, some ceramics stronger than alloys of similar weight in thin sheet form, some less likely to shatter under impact than thin metalis are to tear and crumple, and some that shatter in ways that protect contents behind them from damage. If you want a back that doesn't shatter, you could laminate it with leather, or salami. ;-D
  • True. I would totally have a salami phone :p in all seriousness I like leather phones, it's a shame they don't do those very much .
  • We're talking about build quality on a device that no one has had in their hand or used , other than Andy Rubin.
  • How is titanium and ceramic going to prevent a screen from cracking? If anything the edge to edge display will make the screen more prone to cracking than phones with regular bezels.
  • And the fact that the titanium sides will not give at all making cracked glass even more likely.
  • I rather enjoy wireless charging. Not sure if that is a deal breaker. The IP XX lack is not the biggest concern,
  • Nah, and it looks like that's mostly the consensus in these comments so far... Small as the sample is, it's not a good sign, as we are the target audience. No way a "normal" will hear about this phone, let alone care.
  • Nailed it
  • A tech audience is less likely to buy stuff for prestige than a normal audience. Don't pat yourself on the back, because a tech audience is more likely to buy slightly more sophisticated new stuff that "everyone should have" with no serious consideration of whether anybody actually needs that kind of stuff. Normals will hear about it. Wealthy people will throw money at stuff they don't understand or use for anything important. Many will desire it if they believe that owning stuff will make them happier or that others will perceive owning one as increasing one's importance as a human being. That's how most stuff is sold.
  • Why would people who want prestige buy this no name device over a prestigious brand like Apple or Samsung? And why would a wealthy person think a $700 phone (too expensive for this, but not 'expensive' expensive) think this is something to show off? Especially when Vertu exist. I can see where you're coming from, but I don't think your argument has wheels... If you just like it, that's fine. But it won't make it a success.
  • Suggested reading, and why this is not your fragile and mass produced Samlag full of bloatware and gimmicks features phone. https://www.wired.com/2017/05/essential-andy-rubin/
  • This tells you nothing really.
  • Then you did not read it
  • A similar sized chunk of stainless steel would be more substantial, free of bloatware and gimmicks, looks sleekers and have no instant obsolescence factor. The messages that it wouldn't carry, the pictures it didn't take would have the same exact objective values as the useless stuff you'd do with a functioning phone.
  • You can't really make a sturdiness argument... Ceramics and titanium are cool and all, but it's not milled aluminium that's the weak point of a phone that uses it in its case. It's that big ol' slab of glass on the front. Ya know, the same glass that's on the front of this thing.
  • Agreed
  • How much Andy paying you???
  • The www is blazing hot in regards to this fine piece of art.
  • Really? Where? Not on tech sites... Writers are trying to hype it up but the consumers are collectively shrugging all over the comments.
  • My internet connection cables is at room temperature. If yours is blazing hot, your house is on fire.
  • Hype? There is no such thing (other than what the mobile tech media tries to produce). Let's be honest here, smartphone tech has plateaued leaving us with such great innovations as no headphone jack and bezel-less "Infinity" screens some with unconventional aspect ratios... :( Oh and there's nothing essential about another AI product home or built into a phone. Did noone see the allegory in Alien Covenant about trusting AI so implicitly? :)
  • Infinity is just another marketing nonsense term, Samsung is trying the Apple route with that idiotic retina display term nonsense.
  • All Hondas should be called Hondas. There should be no Infinities or Lexii. Wait! Why stop there? Who makes something or what they want to call it is useless, nonsense, not information of any value. All casual shoes with fabric tops and moulded rubbery soles should be sneakers or gum shoes, all denim trousers, jeans. I do agree with your comment about AI, except that I'd just drop "another AI product home or built into a". Phones are only essential to those who have chosen to make them essential.
  • Was really hoping it looked like the phone in the Michelin commercial, that camera is a turn off. Might try getting a mix
  • This phone is not for you
  • Who exactly IS it for?
  • Not for people shopping for a mix.
  • So a niche market then okay.
  • At the moment that's what it looks like, since mass production is still an issue with the materials "Titanium" used for the chassis of the device, I am sure once it is it in the wild and well received then that manufacturer can expand "invest more into the production facilities" especially if other manufacturers decide to head in this direction, I am sure that Apple is keeping close tabs on this.
  • Are they giving you money for all the defending?
  • Lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • I'm fine with getting rid of the headphone jack if they would just add two USB-C ports. Add one on top and one on the bottom. This way we can charge and listen to music at same time from either top or bottom port.
  • I'd be fine with getting rid of the headphone jack if they would get rid of people who cared about headphones.
  • Nah. It's great that it packs a lot into its size but I also see it as a possible pain in the butt to try to use with one hand and without shuffling. I'm only interested in phones that offer a solid one handed experience.
  • Apple is coming out with another iPhone SE is what I am hearing, perfect size for your one handed gymnastics.
  • I have one currently, and I would love a refresh.
  • Why would you keep a phone in your butt?
  • I don't see any benefit to a more expensive computerized wireless telephone. The most affordable ones haven't provided a net contribution to human life, but instead have lead to a generation of self-absorbed egocentric people who are unable to plan for the future, not even that of a few hours from now. WTF are you so friggin' important that you need to be available 24x7 by friggin' video phone? If you believe if any of your peers actually gives a sh*t about you until THEY need to support your useless zombie corpse's medical and retirement costs, you are mistaken. They are just like you.
  • Spot on^
  • Uh...this is one of those moments where I can't tell whether or not someone is being sarcastic . . .
  • Yes I'm ... I'm trusting Andy Rubin to start something here. Phone may be just another Android phone but I'm excited to see where he takes essential the company in the near future.
  • That's a great attitude to take.
  • Nope. No waterproofing, and no wireless charging = no from me. I also love my headphone jack.
  • Not interested in the slightest
  • I think it looks weird
  • Yes, I really like the titanium and overall size. It's smaller than most recent flagships (slightly shorter than my HTC 10, too).
  • Why do people not do research? It supports their magnetic wireless charging dock. So it has wireless charging.....
  • Doesn't support the current wireless standards that I can see. What I see is that the phone will come with a proprietary dock that will charge through magnetic contacts (likely the same contacts that the mods connect with).
    Not the same at all imo.
  • It will support all the major carriers and wireless standards in the US, the EU at a later date, but that remains to be seen.
  • Talking wireless (inductive) charging. Not wirless data band availability.
  • Not for $700.00!
    These damn mobile phones are so overpriced! It's just a phone nothing more. I got a G4 for a $150.00!
    I'm not getting bamboozled!
  • You have no idea how this phone is build or what it takes to build such a device.
  • Neither do you
  • It's a big gamble at $700 for something that isn't available yet by a company that hasn't done anything yet. At least the OnePlus One was an easier decision at that price point. They've proven themselves over the last couple of years. If this is truly worth it, we'll certainly find out over the next year or two...but I'm no early adopter. I leave that to others. It looks really nice and it all sounds great...but honestly, water resistance is fast becoming a necessity for me.
  • Yawn.
  • Edge to edge display is modern....expect more of it this year. Front facing camera protruding into the display area...meh, I guess every manufacturer has a "look". No headphone jack...uh ok, if you must. Its not a deal breaker for me. If anything, its just limiting appeal to those who are not yet ready to leave the 3.5mm jack. I applaud the effort to make something different in the sea of android devices. I like taking pictures and I want to take my device into various conditions without worrying about a low IP rating. Maybe this device is for people who plan to stay away from the elements. As someone mentioned....the "elite" group who exist within a moisture free environment.
  • you might want to do a little more research... Like the wireless charging for instance. YES it does support and even comes with a wireless charger...
    "Essential
    Phone Dock- Your phone is an essential part of your daily life. And like you, it needs to lie down and recharge sometimes. With our unique Click cordless connector, your phone can quickly recharge while always being at-the-ready for when you need it." Its never been mentioned if it is waterproof or not either. Why not wait for it to launch and get the correct specs before jumping to conclusions?
  • It's a magnetic pad with contacts or really just a dock. It's not Qi or PMA wireless (inductive).
  • http://imgur.com/G99cxaA
    Not sure on the tech underneath since nothing has been released. It does charge the phone and doesnt use wires soooo
  • I guess my blackberry had wireless charging too then seeing as it sat on a dock with pin connectors to charge. /S Sooooo....
  • Because that is what tech sites with young tech bloggers do, impatient young grasshoppers, it helps with the hits on the website.
  • Maybe if I don't like the BlackBerry keyONE then might go for it. From looking at this device though I don't see any major improvements with the titanium build quality outstanding. I'm all for high build quality but anyone that actually needs to have a titanium screen is pretty likely to need a case to better protect the screen. Titanium casing on a phone without an equally protected screen is a waste of titanium.
  • First drop on a corner and that screen is toast.