Essential, the creators of the Essential Phone, have revealed an early look at their follow-up handset. There’s no official name as yet, just the social hashtag #ProjectGEM.
The new handset has a really, really tall display that makes it look much more like a TV remote than a smartphone.
Even Sony, which recently switched all of its devices to a taller 21:9 aspect ratio, hasn’t got anything in its arsenal that’s close to this.
In fact, the closest thing we’ve seen to this form-factor before is the concept images of the re-imagined Motorola Razr, which is widely-tipped to launch later this year. The handset, which will keep the flip-phone shell of the 2005 original is tipped to have a single continuous pliable display inside the fold.
Users will be able to run apps in split-screen on top of one another to boost productivity – something Sony says is one of the main drivers behind its decision to opt for the 21:9 aspect ratio, over the much more common 16:9. Of course, the Essential Project GEM could offer the same benefit to users, too.
Without a folding OLED display and hinge, like leaked renders of the Motorola Razr 2019 reveal, it could also be a more affordable option for Android users.
Essential founder Andy Rubin, who created Android, tweeted a photograph of a number of demo units of the new handset.
The slender smartphone is shown in blue, red, orange, and emerald-green finishes. The rear case is glossy and highly reflective, with colours likely shifting as you tilt the phone back and forth… a bit like the Galaxy Note 10, which in turn was inspired by the Huawei P30.
According to Rubin, Essential is still “dialling in the colours,” so these could change nearer to the release date.
On the back, Essential appears to have fitted a small fingerprint scanner to unlock the handset and authenticate secure apps and payments. There’s also a bulky camera module with an LED flash. Essential didn’t win any awards for the camera technology on their first flagship smartphone, so it will be interesting to see how much has moved on this time around.
There is a front-facing camera, which is embedded into the display in a small O-shaped cut-out, similar to the Infinity-O design seen on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on any of the core numbers yet – megapixels, RAM, built-in storage, or silicon. So, we’re still in the dark whether this is a flagship follow-up to the forts-generation Essential Phone, or a new more affordable effort from the company to appeal to new customers.
It’s also unclear whether this handset is even running Android.
Sure, Any Rubin helped to create the open-source operating system, which is now the most popular mobile OS available worldwide. However, the card-like interface on this Essential handset doesn’t look like any version of Android we’ve ever seen before, and Rubin has gone out of his way to neither confirm – nor deny – whether his creation is powering the phone.
He has described the software as a “new UI for radically different form factor.”
Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out what Essential has been working on. With Christmas fast-approaching, the manufacturer will likely want its phone on shelves before the biggest month in any retailers’ calendar. Stay tuned to Express.co.uk to find out more as soon as we know it.