Why Are We Still Buying iPhones When This Thing Exists?

Android cofounder Andy Rubin’s new tech company was founded on six guiding beliefs:

  1. Devices are your property. We won’t force you to have anything on them you don’t want.
  2. We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated.
  3. Premium materials and true craftsmanship shouldn’t be just for the few.
  4. Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.
  5. Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying your life.
  6. Simple is always better.

Those principles informed the creation of Essential’s first product, an unlocked smartphone that works with any carrier, has a Qualcomm 835 processor and runs using a new operating system.

Measuring in at 5.6 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide, the Essential Phone has an edge-to-edge display screen that takes up nearly the front of the phone and is covered in Gorilla glass. The rest of the phone is made of a titanium and ceramic blend that’s said to be almost indestructible.

The Essential has the same cameras — front and back — that most phones have these days, but the phone will be able to record 4K video and also ships with a 360-degree clip-on camera. Also on the list of included goodies is a cord-free charging dock and a dongle to replace the lack of a headphone jack.

Dubbed Ambient, the Essential’s OS is an “open source Internet of Things platform” that links with smart devices of all kinds and interface with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant too. “Key to Ambient OS is the belief that people should always be in control,” according to the company. “It can suggest certain behaviors but in the end people decide whether or not use them.”

If you’re interested, what you have to decide is if you want to put down $700 (add an extra $50 for the 360-degree camera) to reserve one of the phones sight unseen. As of this moment, we’d say hold off and let someone else be the guinea pig, but maybe Rubin can convince you.