It’s been over two years without a new Essential device. The original Essential PH-1 had a lot to love, and a lot of flaws that hampered it at launch. It was eventually (mostly) fixed, but one could say it was ahead of its time. Two years later, it remains a fantastic phone that got Android 10 the same day as the Pixel devices and continues to get security updates monthly.
However, we’ve known that Essential has had something brewing for some time now. Whether it was hints from the founder Andy Rubin or some of his employees on Twitter, a new device was definitely in the works. And now we’re getting our first peek at it.
The device, likely called Project GEM, looks nothing like the generic slabs we’ve seen so far. It is super skinny and tall, more so than modern Sony smartphones, and looks to be quite small in size. The back is shown off in a few crazy colors, along with a single camera and what looks to be an indent for a fingerprint sensor.
The user interface is all custom and looks nothing like Android, though it might be Android underneath as we do see a Spotify widget. Maybe it’s a custom launcher, or a custom piece of software entirely. We also see a hole punch in the top left corner for the front facing camera.
Some of the PH-1’s design cues remain here. Simplicity, no logos, no writing, and a shiny back all remain. Little else does. The small size and single camera setup imply that it isn’t a high end smartphone, maybe not even a replacement for your regular smartphone.
We don’t yet know what to think of it, but we’re excited to hear more. Essential is a very innovative company and whatever they have in store is sure to be interesting at the very least. What do you guys think of this slim contraption?
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 pic.twitter.com/BnVy7yM2Kj
— Essential (@essential) October 9, 2019