Android creator Andy Rubin recognizes smartphones are as much design objects to tote and gloat over as they are functional tools. Our digital companions have evolved into “a public expression of who you are and what you stand for” – functional, fashionable, and social statements in handheld form. In response, Rubin has revealed the Essential PH-1, a flagship Android-powered phone with an expansive edge-to-edge display stretching toward the horizon, designed to subconsciously appeal to those believing in the virtues of simplicity.
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The origins of the Essential can be traced back to a conversation Rubin shared with a friend about the current state of technology, one that elicited a Marie Kondo-ish epiphany, forcing Rubin to reevaluate the purpose and place of smartphone technology today – specifically his brainchild, Android.
As the night went on we inevitably began talking about what we didn’t like about the current state of technology. Less and less choice. More and more unnecessary features cluttering our lives. An increasing sea of products that didn’t work with one another…
And just when I was about to drop another criticism it hit me: I am partly responsible for all of this.
Out of realization and responsibility, Rubin went back to the drawing board, motivated to design a phone that jettisons logos completely, putting to the forefront all things that truly mattered for the end user beyond conspicuous brand allegiance: top-of-the-line performance, premium materials, craftsmanship, and a modular ecosystem engineered in opposition against the cycle of annual obsolescence.
The results are an edge-to-edge 2560 x 1312 QHD display smartphone equipped with impressive internal specs: Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage housed within a minimalist expression of titanium and ceramic, valued for both tactile satisfaction and survivability rates when dropped compared to its aluminum and glass competitors. Like Google’s own Pixel, Rubin’s Essential aims to deliver a bloat-free Android experience.
An optional add-on 360-degree camera module elaborates upon the integrated dual 13MP Dual RGB + Mono f/1.85 lens camera – touted as the world’s thinnest dual camera system built for a phone – complementing an 8MP still/4K video front-facing camera. Additional accessories are planned to extend the PH-1’s functions, using the aforementioned magnetic port as a connection.
The Essential PH-1 will initially be available only in Black Moon, with later editions offered in Stellar Grey, Pure White, and our favorite, a handsome colorway of green and bronze called Ocean Depths. It’s unclear whether the ever-competitive Android landscape can accommodate for this ambitious vision of simplicity in a smartphone market dominated by Samsung (and Apple) – a device born of the virtues of tangible material design, as much as those virtually represented.