The Essential Phone is the first phone released by the company Essential coinciding with the unveiling of the company itself. The new hardware startup is led by Andy Rubin, who was one of the founders of Android and now operates Essential inside his larger startup incubator called Playground Global.
The goal of the Essential Phone is to offer a clean, simple and customer-centric experience without any extra hurdles or unnecessary software, as Essential sees the current crop of phones in the market as being too flashy and burdensome on users who just want to get things done without any of the extra additions. The Essential Phone runs a near-stock version of Android 7.1 at launch, with the fewest number of pre-loaded apps possible and effectively no customized software.
The philosophy of "less is more" comes down to the hardware as well, where the Essential Phone has strikingly small bezels around the screen as it pushes to the very limits of current hardware design. The frame is built out of titanium, rather than the typical aluminum, and the back is made of ceramic rather than glass. Internally, high-end specs are there but aren't the star of the show: a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and every other radio and hardware feature you'd expect.
The price for all of this? $699 at launch, putting it in the company of every other high-end phone today from better-known companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and others.
Essential has designed the Phone to be extended by magnetically attached modular components, which receive power from two pogo pins on the upper-right edge of the back of the phone and transfer data wirelessly. At launch Essential is only talking about a very compact 360-degree camera, but the goal is to have itself and other companies release new accessories that leverage the technology.