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What the hell is this new phone from Essential's Andy Rubin? (Update)

Essential has since confirmed that it's indeed behind a rather different take on the mobile phone.

Published onOctober 9, 2019

New Essential Phone from Andy Rubin
Andy Rubin

Update, October 9, 2019 (1:39AM ET): Essential founder Andy Rubin posted images of a new mobile phone yesterday, but it wasn’t clear whether this was an Essential product or from another venture.

Now, Essential has confirmed that it is indeed working on this device, posting a series of photos on Twitter as well. Check them out below.

We’ve been working on a new device to reframe your perspective on mobile. It’s now in early testing with our team outside the lab. Look forward to sharing more in the near future! #ProjectGEM
— Essential (@essential) October 9, 2019

It’s worth noting that the device actually seems pretty small, akin to an Android TV remote. This suggests that it could be a companion device akin to the Palm Phone. Then again, Palm’s device didn’t seem to catch on with a wider audience, presumably due to its $350 price tag and the existence of smartwatches and cheap Android phones.

What do you make of Essential’s latest device? Let us know in the comments!

Original article, October 8 2019 (7:34PM ET): Essential Products may be working on a new phone. And when I say a new phone, I mean a really new phone. Andy Rubin, known as the co-founder of the Android operating system and an executive at Essential Products. tweeted photos of an unannounced phone that has an unusual appearance.

The device — which has not been formally announced and has no known name — is tall and skinny. Really tall and skinny. Rubin showed off four of the devices, each a different color that Rubin referred to as “GEM Colorshift material.” The blue, red, orange, and sea green finishes are highly reflective and change as the phones are tilted back and forth. Rubin noted that whatever entity is developing the device is still “dialing in the colors.”

Hardware features visible in the photos include a large camera with flash, possible fingerprint reader, and punch hole selfie camera on front. The display is narrow and stretches up the length of the device, with respectable bezels framing it.

Photos of the user interface don’t necessarily indicate that the device runs Android. Card-style apps appear on the home screen and as many as four appear to fit on the screen at once. The only full-screen app shown is a mapping/navigation app that doesn’t look like Google Maps. Rubin referred to it as a “new UI for radically different form factor.” Indeed.

Is it Essential, Rubin?

These photos came from Rubin’s personal Twitter account, and not Essential Product’s corporate account. Rubin runs a tech incubator on the side called Playground Global.

However, Essential confirmed that it does in fact have something in the works, and this appears to be it. “We’ve been working on a new device that’s now in early testing with our team outside the lab. We look forward to sharing more in the near future,” said the company in a statement provided to The Verge.

Rubin left Google under the cloud of sexual misconduct — and a hefty severance package. He later founded Essential Products., which churned out the Essential Phone. When the news of his alleged conduct went public, he took a short leave of absence from Essential. He later returned and has been keeping a low profile since.

We look forward to learning more about this upcoming Essential phone down the road. Please be sure to tell us what you think in the comments!

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