Android co-founder Andy Rubin unveiled to the world the Essential Phone back in May 2017. The Essential PH-1, as the phone was named, was one of the first devices on the market to sport a notch at the top of the screen that housed the front-facing camera, months before the iPhone X launched. The phone wasn’t exactly a success owing to early issues and tepid sales. However, amid rumors of the sale of the company, Andy Rubin himself confirmed that the company is indeed working on its next mobile product. This meant that all other products in development, such as a home speaker, had to be put on hold, and a round of layoffs soon followed.
Now, more information has emerged about the next generation Essential phone, which may or may not be called the PH-2. According to the report, multiple drawings that were obtained show off a few of the features that the phone might come with, including one that details how the front-facing camera would be placed under the display. The camera and photoelectric sensor behind the display can be revealed through a command that will turn the display semitransparent, letting the sensors see through when needed. An in-display camera is also rumored to be making its way to Samsung’s phones sometime in 2019, so it isn’t clear if Essential would be developing the tech on its own, or licensing it from Samsung and incorporating it in its devices.
Other drawings and a patent from the firm mention the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint sensor, something that has begun seeing widespread adoption. It wouldn’t be surprising if the phone will use an ultrasonic sensor, similar to the one that is expected to debut in Samsung’s flagship phones this year. The source adds that there are variants of the phones using both LCD and OLED displays for now, but the firm might go ahead with using OLED panels.
If Essential does manage to incorporate the front-facing camera and the fingerprint into the display, then the phone might very well ditch the notch and become the first truly all-screen device without the need for a sliding mechanism or any form of punch-hole cutout on the display.
Mentions of the PH-2 have also recently been found on Vodafone’s self-care website’s configuration settings, hinting at the possibility of the phone being branded as the PH-2. Earlier reports suggest that the next generation of the Essential phone would come with huge AI prowess, so much so that it may reply to texts and book appointments without user interaction.
While there are the important questions of whether AI should be powerful enough to one day make decisions on the users’ behalf, if Essential does manage to pull off such technologies on the software and the hardware side, it may very well have a winner at hand that will propel smartphone innovation forward.
All these report and rumors do not, however, provide any form of confirmation on Essential’s plans. Companies tend to constantly re-evaluate plans and it is possible that all of these features may never see the light of day, so it is best to take this information with a grain of salt.