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Android Creator’s Essential Phone Has Smart Home OS Ambitions

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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The Essential Phone will come sporting Android 7.1.1 Nougat

One of the creators of Google’s Android, Andy Rubin, has launched his own smartphone, dubbed the Essential Phone.

It hopes to have an impact on a market dominated by huge manufacturers and is the first product of Playground, a technology investment company created by Rubin. 

On sale in the US for $699 (£540), the Essential Phone sports a titanium and ceramic clad blocky rectangular design that houses a near bezel-less 5.7 inch display that does not look dissimilar to the LG G6 or Samsung Galaxy S8. The display actually incorporates a front-facing 8MP camera to make full use of the real-estate available in the chassis. 

On the rear of the phone, you will find a fingerprint scanner located to the centre, not unlike the Pixel XL’s fingerprint scanner, and a dual 13MP lens camera, one capturing in colour the other in monochrome. 

To the bottom of the phone sits a USB Type-C connection and a single speaker, and the Essential Phone also makes use of wireless USB for data transfer; a magnetic connector handles wireless charging and connection to docks and accessories such as a 360-degree camera add-on the company offering. 

Essential Phone

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Essential Phone Android

Standard volume and power control sit on the right hand side of the phone’s chassis. 

Internal specifications feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB or RAM and 128GB of on-board storage. The battery weighs in at 3040mAh. 

Android and Ambient OS

Essential Phone AndroidOut of the box, the Essential Phone comes running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, with screenshots indicating that the interface is fairly clean with little in the way of bloatware. 

Rubin also plans to create a smart home assistant device called Home that has echos of the Amazon Echo Dot in terms of shape and proportions.

Home will come with its own operating system called Ambient OS, with the idea that the Essential Phone will work with it to enable users to look up information, manage calendars and perform other actions synonymous with the current crop of virtual assistants. 

Home is also set to integrate with different smart home systems, such as Samsung’s SmartThings, Nest, and Apple’s HomeKit, 

However, Ambient OS is still in the works so it it unclear when it will make its debut. 

On the whole, the Essential Phone looks like a nicely designed smartphone with a few interesting features. But where is could standout among the many other decent Android smartphones in the market, is with the creation of an ecosystem of devices and accessories it can connect to as well as the ability to integrate with the the ecosystems of smart devices created by other tech companies. 

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