Essential Teases Wild New Design for Its Next Phone

Posted on October 9, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, Mobile with 23 Comments

Essential has started teasing its upcoming product, and it’s pretty wild. The company was previously rumored to be working on a new kind of phone that features a small screen and relies mainly on voice interactions, and this might be it.

The company teased a new product, called Project GEM, on Twitter last night. The company didn’t share many details about the phone itself, but what you see above is the new phone.

Essential says the company has been working on this device to “reframe your perspective” on mobile, and the device is in “early testing” outside its labs. Essential founder and Android creator Andy Rubin, who previously took a break from the company after allegations of sexual misconduct, took to Twitter to share more about the device.

The idea here is pretty wild, though if it will have any mainstream interest is unlikely. The device’s incredibly small screen will need not only apps but probably even websites to work well in such a small viewing space. And you practically won’t enjoy watching content on this thing at all either. But we will leave the criticism for when the phone is actually launched.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Essential Teases Wild New Design for Its Next Phone”

  1. igor engelen

    Ideal format for a remote control ?

    Seriously though, voice interaction is nice but what if you want to read an email or need your calendar in month view.

    I think this device's functionality will be too limited.

  2. IamDefiler

    Looks amazing, IMO. WindowsPhone meets Xperia 1. It will live and die by the app support. I bet the main input will be push-to-talk similar to the nVidia Shield remote. I see this as a companion phone, not a main phone.


    I want a GEM in one pocket and a Surface Duo in the other.

  3. Fuller1754

    As a satisfied Palm Phone user (as my actual, everyday phone, not a "companion" device), I think these look really appealing. Slim, pocketable, attractive—and helping the copycat phone market try alternative paradigms. Mainstream? Probably not. But will it tank? Not necessarily. I bet a certain submarket will really go for these. Hence the recent emergence of Palm and Unihertz. Heck, I might take a serious look at this in a couple years when it's time to upgrade from my Palm. I'm really glad to see the reemergence of smaller devices and I hope this succeeds so people have the option.

  4. Jorge Garcia

    Easier to smuggle through customs I guess.

  5. mclark2112

    I kind of like it as a secondary device. Reminds me of an old Sanyo phone I had on Sprint way back when.

  6. TroyTruax

    This looks like it could be the perfect phone for the same people that need an iPad not a desktop computer. I can think of several people in my sphere that only need to make calls, sms, taking photos, playing music and maybe email.

  7. aelaan

    The techworld does not forget Mr. Rubin - he should have taken the 90 million and disappear and keep his pants on! We are never going to forgive the "father" of Android. Oh, yeah, sorry also this is fugly

  8. melkiades

    Interesting. I would pay $10 to $20 for one. Maybe a four pack.

  9. rupertholmes

    Give me a camera that pushes beyond my old 1020 and I can go with it.

  10. mmcpher

    This some sort of Bad Concept trial balloon? It looks designed to be just tall enough to be annoying in a pocket, but not so's you'd be able to see much on it. Do tall and skinny devices listen better than wider devices?

  11. MTrimmer

    Is this a TV remote or a phone? Hard to tell the difference.


    Plus not interested in supporting Andy Rubin.

  12. JJanner

    Very nice knockoff of the Sony Xperia 1 and Xperia 5.

  13. Chris_Kez

    Hard pass. This guy took $90 million dollars to slink away from Google after the company found credible evidence of sexual misconduct; burned through $100M to deliver a phone that sold so badly they had to not only scale back most of the surrounding product line/accessories, but also cancel it’s follow up the PH2 and ultimately look to sell off the company; he then remained unrepentant as news of his Google hush money came to light and was forced to take a leave of absence.

    I guess he hoped a few months out of the spotlight and all memories of the slow motion car crash of the previous few years would be forgotten.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/technology/google-sexual-harassment-andy-rubin.html

  14. xpxp2002

    I really like this idea. Reminds me of the good old days of cell phones where nobody made a phone wider than 49-53mm. (History of the Moto RAZR is that they challenged the company's design requirements that cell phones they produced shouldn't be wider than 49mm in order to sit well in the human hand.)


    Phones have gotten too large and too wide to hold easily and one-handed use is a real challenge nowadays. A move back toward common sense sizes is welcome.

  15. christian.hvid

    Apple could maybe get away with this, given that iOS developers are more or less forced to support whatever form factors Apple comes up with. But Essential, with a market share of 0.001% or so? It's just a waste of investor's money, and probable the last we'll hear from the firm.

  16. nordyj

    Yeah... don't really see this one taking off. I'd be much more inclined to jump to the Surface Duo if I were to leave the Samsung S line. As mentioned, this looks far more like a remote control than a phone/pocket computer thing.

  17. rmlounsbury

    So this is more or less the smartphone version of the Jitterbug with a primarily voice based interface. It'll be interesting to see how that one evolves.

  18. JustinMSalvato

    Mainstream interest unlikely.. . I agree, but I love those colors.

  19. jimchamplin

    Ah... interesting?


    I don’t hate it, but it could never be a main device. If I were a first line worker who typically uses an 8” or larger tablet, this would be a good companion device. Enough screen to make and receive calls and access messages, and that’s about it.


    It would be pretty good in that role.

  20. Greg Green

    Very few want their smartphone to be a phone. It’s primarily a non verbal social consumption and messaging device.

  21. geoslake

    Ehm well, OK cool. Now if someone could make again a true 16/9 phone as an alternative to all those super tall ones, cos I need a wider kb, not a narrower one. Has there been a kind of poll or something, and 100% of the population said they want taller and narrower phones? I certainly don't.

  22. Fuller1754

    I've been looking at more photos of this concept, and the more I do, the better it looks. I really like the size and proportions of this phone. Hopefully it actually makes it to market.

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