It’s not often a brand new player enters the smartphone scene. With a handful of well-established names dominating sales, it can be a tough market to break into – but Essential Products is looking to do just that with the Essential Phone.
More than a mere startup, Essential is headed by Android creator Andy Rubin – a man who presumably knows what goes into making a great smartphone.
The result is a flagship-baiting superphone with gorgeous good looks and a few camera tricks that could make it a real contender. Oh, and let's not forget some modular shenanigans, too.
It's given screen bezels the boot
Phones with front-filling screens are all the rage right now, thanks to LG and Samsung. Essential looks set to continue the trend, but with a more unique approach that'll help it stand out from the crowd.
Rather than squeeze a front-facing camera in at the top of the phone, the screen actually wraps around it. That central spot isn't usually used at all by Android's top notification bar, so it won't get in the way when you're on the home screen. When you're gaming, or watching videos, though? We'll have to wait and see whether things shrink down to compensate for the gap.
There's still a bezel at the bottom of the phone, but that should give you something to grip while you're actually using it.
The 5.7in display has a skinny 19:10 aspect ratio, and a retina-busting QHD, 2560x1312 resolution. It's not quite as high as the Galaxy S8's 2960x1440 OLED, and according to the spec sheet, Essential will be using an LTPS LCD panel, so image quality is still something of a mystery. There's no mention of HDR video support, either, but the 500nit brightness should be more than enough to see what's onscreen clearly when you're outside.
It can take a beating
Take a look around the Essential Phone and you won't spot any ugly logos. It'll be a minimal monolith of a smartphone, one made from a combination of titanium and ceramic that can survive an accidental meeting with the pavement.
Unlike aluminium-framed phones (we're looking at you, iPhone and Galaxy), the Essential Phone shouldn't scratch or blemish in a drop test.
At 7.8mm thick, it won't feel like a brick in your pocket, but it'll survive damage that would leave other phones looking bruised and battered.
Corning's Gorilla Glass 5 will be protecting that screen up front, so you can bet it'll be equally as tough as the rear.
The Essential Phone won't be arriving on its lonesome - it'll be joined by a whole host of modular accessories that (according to company head honcho Andy Rubin) "keep your phone cord-free, future-proof, and always up-to-date".
Right now, this includes a minature 360° camera capable of 4K video recording at 30fps, and the Essential Phone Dock for wireless charging.
It's all thanks to the Click cordless connector, which sits on the back of the phone so you don't have to mess around with powering down just to switch out accessories - like you did on the LG G5.
Other accessories are still a mystery, but clearly Essential reckons it'll be a major reason to pick up a phone come launch day. With no headphone jack on board (just a dongle in the box), maybe that should be high on the list of modular upgrades.