Andy Rubin is the man responsible for Android, the world's most used mobile operating system. He sold it to Google in 2005 and then left the company in 2014, but is now planning a comeback to the smartphone industry with his own company and a high-end smartphone.
His new company name is Essential Products Inc and in 2016 it registered Essential with the US Patent and Trademarking Office (USPTO). Rubin mentioned smartphones, tablets, accessories and computer software for mobile phones under its goods and services. That last bit suggests Essential will develop a new mobile operating system rather than use Android, although it could just create a skin to run over the top of Android.
Sources speaking to Bloomberg added that the phone is also expected to feature an edge-to-edge screen larger than 5.5-inches, but be smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus because of the super slim bezels. The screen could also respond to different levels of pressure, similar to Force Touch on the iPhone, and the overall build will be of high quality, using metal for the edges and ceramic for the rear.
It's also claimed the Essential smartphone will have a bespoke connector that would not only be used to charge the battery, but also for what sounds like modules. It's understood that Essential itself is working on a camera add-on that takes 360 degree photos. We've already seen a couple of phones that use modules, the LG G5 and Motorola Moto Z and whilst the idea may be good, in practice we don't feel it quite works. It will be interesting to see how Essential would implement them.
Sources also said that Andy Rubin is sure artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big thing in technology - you only have to look at the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa - and so Essential's products will revolve heavily around the new technology.
It's thought the phone will go on sale later this year for around $649, putting in right in the firing line of the iPhone 7. Rubin allegedly had talks with mobile operators such as Sprint at CES 2017, so it may be a US exclusive for now.