This new smartphone is unlike any smartphone we’ve seen and looks more like a smart remote control than a phone.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Essential Phone made a splash on the Android scene. Not only did it have a great looking design and amazing build quality, but it was also the brainchild of the father of Android Andy Rubin. Now, Essential is back with Project Gem.
The original Essential Phone didn’t live past its first model, yet that model is still getting Android updates to this day. The company struggled and eventually scaled back operations and we thought Essential was done at that point. But it looks like Andy Rubin’s brain has been cooking up something new with Project Gem.
This new smartphone is unlike any smartphone we’ve seen and looks more like a smart remote control than a phone. The user interface reminds us of PalmOS and its cards. The hardware looks simple with what looks to be a power button and volume button on the right side. The back of the device houses one camera and maybe a fingerprint sensor.
What really stands out, aside from the form factor, is the crazy colors this thing is splashed with. Andy Rubin calls it GEM Colorshift material.
An Essential spokesperson confirmed to the The Verge that this is the company’s new phone, adding: “We’ve 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.”
If some leaked code snippets spotted by XDA-Developers pan out, the Gem may activate its voice assistant when you tap your finger to that divot around back — the code snippets mention a “fingerprint walkie talkie” mode. They also suggest it runs Android and point at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor, whose midrange performance might make sense for a device that’s designed more as a mobile companion than becoming the digital center of your life.
It’s an interesting project but it remains to be seen what kind of apps will run on this device or if apps will have to be specifically made for it.