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Andy Rubin’s ‘Essential’ working on AI gadgets, starting w/ bezel-less smartphone in mid-2017


In late 2015, a report alleged that Android creator Andy Rubin was planning a return to the smartphone market after leaving Google and founding a startup incubator. Bloomberg now has details of a device expected to launch later this year with a premium build and third-party accessory ecosystem.

With the Android founder at the helm as CEO and a number of former Alphablet and Apple employees, Rubin is expected to soon launch a new company called Essential. A former senior Google manager is running software, with a former-Motorola employee acting as a key designer.

While also working on other consumer hardware products that feature artificial intelligence, the main device is a premium smartphone with a large, bezel-less, and edge-to-edge screen. The display is reportedly larger than the 5.5-inches, but has a smaller overall footprint than similar sized devices, like the iPhone 7 Plus.

Similar to the iPhone, the screen is 3D Touch-like in that it can sense varying levels of pressure. Other specs include a proprietary magnetic connector that will be both used for charging and to support a third-party ecosystem of hardware accessories, including a 360-degree camera.

Aesthetically, the phone will have metal edges and a ceramic back. At CES 2017, Rubin reportedly held talks with various carriers, including Sprint in the US. Foxconn is apparently in the running to manufacture this new device.

A possible launch date is mid-2017 with a price close to the iPhone 7. At $649, the device is also priced similarly to the Google Pixel, though Bloomberg could not confirm whether the device would even run Android.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: