Essential Products is hard at work on a follow-up to its Essential Phone, which launched on August 17, 2017. The smartphone, designed by Android OS co-founder Andy Rubin, sold poorly – forcing the company to slash its $699 price tag by $200.
However, the Palo Alto-based firm is now gearing up to launch an all-new smartphone that will shift the focus away from the modular components of the Essential Phone towards an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice controls.
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It's unclear exactly what form the new handset will take. According to an earlier report from Bloomberg (opens in new tab), the Essential Phone 2 is intended to reduce the amount of time you have to spend staring at your phone screen.
As such, controlling the Essential Phone 2 will be handled primarily by voice commands, while an in-built AI assistant will be able to mimic your tone of voice to automatically respond to emails and text messages, as well as book appointments on your behalf while your busy enjoying time away from a screen.
According to Bloomberg, "the design of the new mobile device isn’t like a standard smartphone. It would have a small screen and require users to interact mainly using voice commands [...] Essential expects to market the product as a complement to people’s smartphones or as a phone for those who want to spend less time tethered to their screens."
Given the emphasis on AI – not to mention the fact that it's designed by one of the co-founders of the Android operating system now owned by Google – the Essential Phone 2 looks set to go head-to-head with the Pixel 4 set to launch in October 2019.
An alternative design has been imagined in a new concept video created by YouTube channel DBS Designing (opens in new tab). It imagines the Essential Phone 2 not as a small-screened companion to your existing flagship, but as a fully-fledged sequel to the original handset, building on the design language and features introduced back in 2017. The resulting flagship looks stunning and more than capable to stand toe-to-toe with the Google Pixel range in terms of design and hardware features.
Watch the full video below:
The video shows the handset with an edge-to-edge display – with the front-facing camera housed in a small cut-out at the top of the display, similar to the Infinity-O screen seen on the Samsung Galaxy S10. This seems like the logical evolution from the design showcased with the Essential Phone, which has a tiny, teardrop-shaped notch to house the camera.
Like the first-generation Essential Phone, the small pogo pins used to connect 360-degree cameras and other accessories created by the company make a return in the top right-hand corner of the back panel. It's unclear whether this is based on sources speaking to DBS Designing (opens in new tab), or whether it's simply wishful thinking on their part.
The circular, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is nowhere to be seen in the concept video, which suggests that DBD Designing reckons Essential will opt for an in-display like the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
Elsewhere, the new Essential increases the number of cameras on the back of the handset from two to three. It's unclear what the additional lens would enable, although our money would be on ultra-wide photos or a much greater optical zoom.
Unfortunately, we don't yet have an Essential Phone 2 release date. However, last time around Essential Products announced the smartphone on May 30 and then released the handset on August 17, so we could see a similar timeframe the second time around, too.