The first time the Sharp Aquos S2 leaked, it was hard to unsee the striking resemblance it shared with the Essential Phone. The teaser was even the same as that of the Essential Phone when Andy Rubin first teased it. While Sharp may use the “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” excuse, Andy Rubin isn’t happy about it.
In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg, the founder of Essential shed some light on the matter. He revealed that Foxconn Industries manufactured the Essential Phone. The manufacturing giant which is also an investor and partner in Essential, also manufactured the Sharp Aquos S2. So while there are advantages in the partnership, there are also disadvantages.
Andy Rubin said in the interview “You should have seen that email!”, referring to the mail he sent to Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, when he saw the Sharp phone. The details of the mail were not disclosed but we can assume that he gave Mr. Gou a piece of his mind.
In China it isn’t unusual to see phones from different brands look exactly alike. Take the bezel-less display craze that started with the Xiaomi Mi MIX for example. Quite a number of manufacturers made similar looking devices with some even having “MIX” in their name.
So Mr Rubin, if Sharp didn’t copy your design, someone else would have done so eventually. However, while Sharp has been making bezel-less devices for years now, they can even be referred to as the pioneers, it will be unfair to pretend we can’t see that the Essential Phone greatly influences the design of the Aquos S2. Sharp does try to make the display look a bit different by making the top corners diagonal instead of curved.
Moving on from there, Mr Rubin also revealed two new modules for the Essential Phone. The Essential phone has two magnetic pins at the back where you can clip on the accessories that give your phone new features. Right now, the only one available for purchase is the 360° cam which will retail for $199 but can be gotten for $50 when you buy it with the phone.
The new modules he mentioned are a device that allows you send high quality audio to your car stereo while your phone charges via its main port. If you have forgotten, the Essential Phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack that you can plug an auxiliary cable into.
The second gadget is said to be the world’s smallest 3D laser scanner. he didn’t disclose the function of the scanner though. Another device he revealed is a standalone product called Home.
Home will work like Google Home or Amazon Echo but will have support for Google Assistant and Alexa. It will also run a special OS called AmbientOS which focuses on privacy.
A prototype unit shown reveals it has a circular display. We can make out a music widget, a widget that shows a list of smart devices (there is Nest and Chromecast on the list) and a third widget that has Spotify and AT&T icons.
Official images on the website reveals it will have a black body with a gold chrome base. The display is inclined so you don’t have to stand directly over it to see what is on the screen.
The official website describes Home as a device “that plays well with others”. You can activate it by asking a question, tapping it or even glancing at it. Some of the functions shown include asking it to play song, set a reminder or even dim the light. It will remind you about your appointments too.
There was no mention of when any of these products will hit the market.