Reports are that Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android operating system has started a new hardware company called Essentials where he will be Chief Executive Officer. The company will be working on a suite of consumer hardware products where a main device will be a high-end smartphone comprising of a bezel less display up front, high-end features inside, along with the ability to gain new hardware features over time.
According to Bloombery “at least one prototype of Rubin’s phone boasts a screen larger than the iPhone 7 Plus’s (5.5-inches) but has a smaller overall footprint because of the lack of bezels, one of the people said. The startup is experimenting with enabling the phone’s screen to sense different levels of pressure, similar to an iPhone, the person said. Rubin’s team is testing an industrial design with metal edges and a back made of ceramic, which is more difficult to manufacture than typical smartphone materials, two of the people said.
Essential’s engineers are developing a proprietary connector that serves double duty for charging the battery and expanding the phone’s functionality over time, one person familiar with the planning said. The magnetic connector would allow Essential or even third parties to create hardware accessories that add features to the smartphone. For instance, Rubin’s engineers are working on a sphere-shaped camera add-on that shoots high-resolution 360 degree photographs, the person said.”
There is nothing in the reports that outright said that Essentials is working on a modular smartphone, but the ability of the device to improve hardware specifications over time does point to it being modular.
In terms of the brains behind Essentials, Bloomberg reports that “helping run the project are former Google colleagues and Apple managers, including Rebecca Zavin, Joe Tate, Linda Jiang, and Jason Keats. Zavin, a former senior Google software manager, is running software for Rubin. Keats and Tate are helping run hardware engineering, and Jiang is a key designer for Essential, according to a person familiar with the startup. Kelly Liang, a former business executive with the Google X lab, is managing business development and Brian Wallace, a former Samsung and Magic Leap executive, is leading marketing.”
The new Essentials smartphone is reportedly going to be priced very similar to the iPhone 7 and might be put on sale around June of this year (a very unlikely prediction, but we’ll have to wait and see).
If this mysterious new smartphone does turn out to be a modular smartphone, it will make a ton of Ara hopefuls happy, but if not, it seems to be on track to hopefully be revolutionary in some way, and that alone makes it worth keeping an eye out for.
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