After hinting earlier this year that a new phone from Essential could be announced soon, CEO Andy Rubin may have just given us our first glimpse at that device.
Rubin today posted photos and a video that show a mysterious device that's different from pretty much every smartphone out there. The form factor is tall and skinny, sort of like a remote, with a rear camera that's protruding from the backside and a dimple below it. There's a front camera in the upper left corner of the screen.
"New UI for a radically different formfactor," Rubin says in one tweet. We can see Google Maps running on the tall, skinny display in one image while another shows that could be a multitasking user interface with small cards representing the running apps.
There are four total devices shown, each with a "GEM Colorshift material" that looks shiny and reflective in the light.
Rubin doesn't explicitly say that this is the Essential Phone 2. It is possible that this is the next smartphone from Essential, though. Almost exactly one year ago, a report claimed that Essential was working on a new phone with a focus on AI that could respond to emails and texts and also book appointments on its own. The report added that the upcoming device would have a small screen that'd be meant to push the user to interact with the phone with their voice.
We don't know if this device shown by Rubin today is that same device, but that tall and skinny screen could push users to interact more with their voice since it's so different from what we're all used to.
What do you think of this mystery device?
GEM Colorshift material pic.twitter.com/QJStoiDleH
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 8, 2019
UPDATE: Essential has confirmed that this is a new device, saying that it will "reframe your perspective on mobile." The company adds that it's now in early testing with a team outside of its labs, but there's no mention of a release date. It's referred to as "#ProjectGEM", hinting that "GEM" could be its codename.