Andy Rubin is Building an ‘Essential’ High-End Smartphone

andy-rubin android

Andy Rubin created Android, which has become a dominant presence within the technology market, but now he’s working on something else.

Rubin left Google, now Alphabet, Inc., in 2014, after he sold Android to Google back in 2005. Since then, Rubin has worked at the company to help build Android up, and roll it out over the globe, and then run Google’s robotics unit beginning in 2013, until he ultimately left the company altogether. Rubin eventually started a startup incubator known as Playground Global, which, among other things, helped foster the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and other areas.

But AI has apparently gripped Rubin, and, according to Bloomberg, he is currently has at work on building not only a brand new, high-end smartphone, but also an entire series of consumer products that are all bridged together by artificial intelligence. The new company’s name is Essential, and Rubin intends to unveil the company at the same time it announces the new smartphone and other consumer devices.

The centerpiece of that vision is a smartphone which will feature an edge-to-edge display that “lacks a surrounding bezel.” It will also use high-end materials, and presumably specifications, and Rubin was busy talking about the phone with wireless carriers in the United States during the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of January.

One of the carriers mentioned was Sprint.

The device is still in a prototype stage, but it’s also noted that it will be able to “gain new hardware features over time,” but what that means specifically remains to be seen.

“The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said.

“While still in the prototyping stage, Rubin’s phone is aimed at the top of the market where Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Alphabet Inc.’s new Pixel reside. It’s expected to include high-end materials and the ability to gain new hardware features over time, the people said. Representatives for Rubin and Sprint declined to comment.”

Some details were revealed in the report. That includes a device that reportedly has a bigger display size than 5.5 inches, but has a smaller footprint than devices with similar panels. It will also have a pressure-sensitive screen, similar to the iPhone 7’s. The back of the Essential smartphone could be made from ceramic, with the edges being constructed of metal. It will have an “industrial design.”

The Essential will also apparently have a proprietary connector, which will serve double duty of charging the device, and also expanding the device’s hardware capabilities over time:

“The magnetic connector would allow Essential or even third parties to create hardware accessories that add features to the smartphone. For instance, Rubin’s engineers are working on a sphere-shaped camera add-on that shoots high-resolution 360 degree photographs, the person said.”

The report ends by saying that Rubin will launch the handset sometime in the middle of this year, and that it could retain for around $649. Interestingly enough, the report doesn’t specifically mention if the new Essential smartphone will run Android under the hood.

[via Bloomberg]