Former Google VP Andy Rubin is in talks with carriers about selling a new smartphone he has created with his startup, Essential.
Rubin left Google two years ago after creating Android and the leading the team behind it for eight years. Now that he’s had time away from the search giant, Rubin is planning to take on the iPhone and Android handsets with a new type of smartphone that specializes in artificial intelligence.
“While still in the prototyping stage, Rubin’s phone is aimed at the top of the market where Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Alphabet Inc.’s new Pixel reside,” reports Bloomberg. “It’s expected to include high-end materials and the ability to gain new hardware features over time.”
Its unclear whether Rubin’s phone will run Android or an all-new operating system. Rubin has said he thinks training AI systems to learn is the next big step for technology, so the company may develop an entire AI platform.
The team behind the new smartphone is comprised of 40 individuals recruited away from Apple, Alphabet and other top tech companies. Rubin hasn’t even announced that the company exists yet. According to Bloomberg, he will serve as CEO while leading the creation of a suite of hardware products.
To stand out against the iPhone, Essential’s device may feature a bezel-free display that’s bigger than the iPhone 7 Plus screen, only in a smaller form factor. Ceramics might be used for the back of the device, which could come with a pressure-sensitive screen and a 3D Touch-like feature.
A proprietary connector on the phone will supposedly be used for charging as well as expansion. Users will be able to slap on accessories to make the device more powerful. A 360-degree camera attachment is supposedly in the works.
Rubin’s team is allegedly planning to launch the phone by mid-2017. Foxconn is in talks to do the manufacturing, and pricing is expected to be comparable to the iPhone 7.