Essential tries to out cool Apple with its first phone


Essential Phone
Essential Phone is now surprisingly affordable.
Photo: Essential

After months of teasing, the godfather of Android, Andy Rubin, finally revealed his new company Essential’s first smartphone today.

And it appears that it’s only mission is to be cooler than the iPhone.

On paper, the new Essential Phone sounds phenomenal (for a phone that run Android). All the internal specs are nearly on par with the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel. It even packs some expansion features that Apple and Samsung have neglected. But it also comes with a huge price tag that will deter most buyers.

You see, Essential doesn’t want just anyone to buy its phone. In a couple of interviews promoting the phone’s launch, Essential execs said they hate the idea that everyone has the same phone. Because of this, the company believes there are millions of people out there that will buy the Essential Phone simply because not a lot of people have it.

The Anti-iPhone

Essential Phone
Essential Phone’s 360-degree camera add-on.
Photo: Essential

“We’re not for everybody,” said Jason Keats who leads Essential’s product development. “You know it’s going to be a little exclusive. We’ve gone after technologies and methods of manufacturing that aren’t designed to support 50 million devices.”

Rather than creating a great phone for the masses, the company wants to be more like a high-end watch maker and create a device that is only for people who really care what their phone says about them. There aren’t any niche smartphone companies out there, so it’s hard to see how Essential becomes a tech power house without selling millions of phones.

Essential’s strategy is the same argument some tech pundits made during the height of the iPod’s popularity. It became so ubiquitous that many thought it was going to be come uncool. Yet, Microsoft Zune, the Pono Player and a rash of other would-be iPod killers still couldn’t topple Apple’s.

The iPhone may not be the most luxurious or innovative phone on the market, but it’s the hands down the best overall smartphone. And that is what makes it cool. It is so simple your grandma can use it, while being advanced enough for the biggest tech geeks to love.

Andy Rubin is on a mission to create the perfect smartphone for himself, but will anyone else want it?