After months of rumors and teases, former Android boss Andy Rubin has announced the Essential phone. It's a slick device, built from titanium and ceramic, with a display that covers nearly the entire front panel. The phone will sell unlocked for $699, with support for all four major U.S. carriers.
Still, there's a lot we don't know about the Essential phone. It ships with an unspecified version of Android, with no clear commitment to routine software updates. The phone has magnetic connectors for modular accessories, similar to Lenovo's Moto Mods, but the only one we know of is a 360-degree camera. And while the phone is available for pre-order now, it lacks a release date. Essential has also announced a smart-home controller puck with a new operating system called AmbientOS, but it's unclear which devices it'll work with, when it'll ship, or what it'll cost.
In a blog post, Rubin makes some sweeping gestures about why Essential exists, expressing a desire to make technology simpler, more accessible, and more open. How that all translates to the actual product remains something of a mystery. JN