Essential’s first smartphone was one of the world’s first phone to have an almost bezel-less display. The display was edge to edge at the top with a ‘‘chin’’ at the bottom. The front camera was housed within a teardrop notch which was a first for phones. Other than that the phone was built out of titanium and ceramic which was very unconventional for a phone and it felt and looked premium. It featured the Snapdragon 835 along with 4GB of RAM making it a really a capable phone for at the time.
The company was found in Palo Alto on November 9th, 2015, by android co-founder Andy Rubin who funded the project from Playground Global.The name Android was actually after Andy Rubin’s nickname that his co-workers gave him due to his love for robots. When Android was acquired by Google, Rubin became the company’s vice president and oversaw the development of Android. In 2013, Andy moved and took over the robotics division at Google while Sundar Pichai took over Android. In 2014, Ruben left Google to start an incubator for hardware startups.
The front of the PH-1 was not the only interesting aspect of the phone. The back along with the cameras and a fingerprint sensor had a magnetic connector called the click connector. The whole idea behind this was to make the phone modular by attaching different mods via the click connector. The company launched a 360 degree and a charging dock accessory at launch. In 2018 they came out with an Audio Adapter HD that provided a DAC, An Amp and a headphone jack. It was sold out the same day that it was launched.
Essentials had plans of launching a replacement for the PH-1. They called it project Gem. The phone had probably the most unconventional design for a smartphone. It had a candy bar-like the design which meant that it was super tall and very narrow. The main camera featured the functionalities of three cameras in one and the edge to edge OLED display housed a punch-hole front camera. The display was so narrow that the keyboard was placed at a diagonal slant. The navigation was based on swiping at the bottom corners. The phone was meant to be primarily controlled with your voice hence as a push to talk smart assistant whom you could invoke by pressing the fingerprint button which authenticated you.
On 12thFebruary 2020, they announced the termination of their operation. Their website said “In October, we introduced Project GEM, a new mobile experience that our hardware, software and cloud teams have been building and testing for the past few years. Our vision was to invent a mobile computing paradigm that more seamlessly integrated with people’s lifestyle needs. Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers. Given this, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential.” The Gem never made to the public which is rather unfortunate. The PH-1 has received its last and final firmware update on February 3rd,2020.The company did release some videos flaunting the Gem’s aesthetics and features on its website.