The “Essential Phone” just launched – what’s the big deal?

In a world where Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone markets, it’s interesting to see a fresh new take on the smartphone from a relative newcomer. Not that this phone was made by a nobody – the Essential Phone is created by Andy Rubin, co-founder of the Android system that rivals iOS.

The phone has pretty competitive specs, along with a now-customary edge-to-edge display, and two holes on the back for attaching optional accessories. One of those accessories is a 360-degree camera, which looks impressive, and the modular system is something we’ve not seen much of before. The phone is made from an unusual combination of titanium and ceramic, which supposedly makes it more durable than the aluminum finish favored by most current smartphones. It follows the iPhone in not bothering with a 3.5mm audio jack – something that other Android devices haven’t wanted to do.

The clip-on 360-degree camera module

The Essential Phone costs $699, which is actually a little more than the base model of iPhone 7 ($649) but a little less than the model with the same 128GB storage capacity ($749.) Still, considering the iPhone is generally seen as a super premium device, we’d expect a bit more from the Essential Phone for the same kind of prices. There’s no stereo audio, fingerprint sensors only on the rear, and a rather odd-looking hole in the screen to accommodate a selfie camera. Still, we applaud a newcomer trying something fresh in this space. You can read more about the phone on the Essential website.

Looks pretty slick, apart from the camera cut-out at the top…

Whether this new phone will be a success is anyone’s guess, but hopefully it will spur the competition – including Apple – on to greater things.