Code Conference is an invitation-only event meant to bring together a global community of the biggest names in the business, executive leaders and startups with bright futures for networking and in-depth conversations about the current and future impact of digital technology.
Last Night the Co-Founder of Recode, Walter Mossberg, who will soon be retiring, interviewed Andy Rubin, the creator of the soon to be released The Essential Phone.
One of the creators of the Android OS Rubin left Google to start his own company called Playground which includes both a venture fund and a “studio” which provides services to the companies that the venture fund invests in. “What we do is invest in technology that is trying to flesh out what the next eco-system is.”
The Essential Phone was up first on the list of topics they covered. While it looks like a typical smartphone of it’s day, in essence a big rectangle with a diagonal screen of about 5.71″, it has some important differences.
One of them though, won’t be the OS system. While Rubin has created a new OS called Ambient, The Essential Phone will be running on traditional Android.
The screen runs almost from edge to edge with a small chin at the bottom. Even the 8mp front facing camera at the top is under the screen – which is one of the most controversial design elements being that it then interrupts the view when viewing videos. When it was mentioned that a screen going almost edge to edge was nothing new as Samsung has done it, LG has done it and Apple is rumoured to be doing it, Rubin seemed undisturbed by the thought. “This isn’t rocket science, this is technology evolution.”
It’s the first cellphone made out of titanium, and the reason for that, he explained, is that with the glass going all the way to the edge, any lesser material would bend. Titanium is used in jet fighters, it’s an aerospace technology. The back however is ceramic and therefore RF transparent. It comes in both a reflective and matte finish.
The accessory bus is truly where the Essential Phone stands apart. Why the two pins that make it a truly proprietary system? According to Rubin he was inspired by a trip to Korea years ago where he stayed at a hotel where the sound system in the room, a lovely set of Bose speakers, only had a 30 pin IPod connection. This was his “aha” moment where he decided that connectors are a dumb idea and that the industry needs to figure out a way to make them all go away. (Although the phone itself has a USB-C connector on the bottom.)
“What is stopping us from making all connectors wireless?” Rubin asked “At what point can we just make everything wireless? So (we’re) building a device that has some of those ideas built in to it, incorporating a normal port during this transition and including the wireless technology that is a successor.”
“You say it’s wireless but this looks physical” Mossberg pointed to the two pins of the accessory bus.
“Those are just alignment pins….it’s a magnetic accessory bus.”
The bus itself is a near field 60ghz RF chip that uses a wireless USB 3.0 technology.
This technology, unlike present modular phones will allow the company the freedom to radically change the phone design if they want without affecting the attachments that have been previously bought by the consumer.
His first example is the tiny 360 degree camera you can mount to the phone using the wireless bus. This is a cool bit of technology that doesn’t require you to switch between a front facing camera and a rear camera. You can simply swipe the screen and the camera can rotate in a 360 view. The phone is the uplink, so you don’t need wifi for it, and it is powered by the phone as well, so it doesn’t need to be charged.
Something he did not mention was how this was going to wear on the 3040MAH battery.
Something he also has not addressed, though it was vaguely mentioned, was the idea of expandable memory. The Essential Phone only has 128GB of internal memory, lagging behind both The Samsung Galaxy 8 which allows expanded memory up to 256GB and the Iphone 7 which can be purchased with an internal memory of 256GB.
The Phone can be reserved starting now on essential.com for $699.00 by itself or with the camera for $749.00
For the full specs on the phone and more information visit their official website at: https://www.essential.com/
Watch the full interview on recode.net: