Andy Rubin teases new Essential phone with 'radically different' form factor

(Image credit: Essential)

If you're worried that non-foldable smartphone design has gotten stale and familiar in recent years, you may find Essential's next Android handset to be right up your alley. 

In a series of surprise tweets today, Essential Products CEO Andy Rubin has revealed a prototype of what could be the company's Essential Phone follow-up, tweeting out numerous pictures and even a video.

In a statement published by 9to5Google, the company confirmed that it's "been working on a new device that's now in early testing with our team outside the lab. We look forward to sharing more in the near future."

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Currently referred to simply as 'GEM', the upcoming phone has a long and slender design, appearing roughly half the width of your average smartphone in 2019. So far, the handset has been shown off in four different color options.

On the front of the device, we can see what Rubin describes as a "New UI for radically different formfactor [sic]", with one image showing numerous stacked apps on a single screen, and another image displaying an unspecified and slimmed-down maps app.

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While Apple's iPhone X kicked off the 'display notch' craze, it's worth noting that the original Essential Phone was first to implement a display cutout for its front-facing camera. 

This time, however, it appears that Essential has taken inspiration from Samsung, with the GEM prototype sporting a pinhole camera cutout in the top left-hand corner of the device. 

Initial reports suggested that the Essential Phone 2 might have an in-screen camera, so either those plans have changed, or a true Essential Phone successor is also in the works alongside the GEM.

Along with the above images, Rubin also posted a video showing the GEM devices from the rear to better demonstrate the "Colorshift" material which actually changes shade when viewed from different angles.

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At present, no release date information has been offered for the upcoming device, though we'd expect an official announcement to come in the not-too-distant future.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.