Android co-founder Andy Rubin has been teasing his new Essential phone for some time now and has even hinted that full reveal may come within a few days. In the meantime, Rubin has given us some clues as to the nature of his upcoming iPhone killer.
On Thursday, the official Essential Twitter account teased that something "big" was coming next week which is what prompted speculation that the device would be revealed soon. Shortly after that tweet, the account gave us a glimpse of the phone with some sort of accessory attached to the top.
— Essential (@essential) May 25, 2017
At first glance, the attachment appears to be a camera of some sort. However, it may not be the type of camera you think it is. Todd Haselton, who works as a production editor for CNBC, lightened the image and revealed that the accessory on top appears to be some sort of 360-degreee camera for virtual and augmented reality.
There's a mysterious bump that looks like a 360-degree camera on Android founder's new phone https://t.co/V1gVkq43FH
— Todd Haselton (@robotodd) May 25, 2017
This isn't too surprising considering that Rubin has been teasing something like this for a few weeks now. He is not going to stake his reputation on a new smartphone unless it does something big and VR/AR would fall into that category.
However, what's interesting than the camera itself is the fact that it appears to be attached to the phone via some kind of connector. This would imply that users can swap accessories in and out. This is merely speculation on our part, but a modular design, even to a limited extent, would certainly be something that neither the iPhone nor other flagship Android devices have accomplished.
To be fair, there have been a few attempts at creating modular smartphones. However, for the most part, they've fallen flat. We don't see the Essential being entirely modular in design, but a degree of customization would certainly be welcome and would help the Essential stand out from the iPhones and Galaxy S8s of the world. Even something as basic as being able to add new accessories via a connector would be a welcome option. This could allow users to customize the phone to suit their needs — something the industry could benefit from.
In contrast to Apple's walled garden, Android phones have always been more open to new developers and ideas. If Rubin goes with a somewhat modular design for the Essential then he would be one step closer to philosophically aligning Android's hardware with its software.