Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android, which is now the most popular mobile operation system, is on the verge of launching a new smartphone brand of his own. After having left Google back in 2014, Rubin has been dabbling with many projects including a startup incubator focusing mainly on AI called Playground Global. Finally, industry reports suggest that Rubin is all set to make a comeback to the smartphone space with his own brand called Essential Product Inc.

Selling Android to Google back in 2005 and thereafter leading the product team to take it to the top of the market by beating the likes of iOS and Windows Mobile, Rubin has many a feather in his cap. With that said, Rubin would be donning a new hat in his upcoming firm Essential Inc. Instead of leading the software development role like in Google, Rubin would function as the Chief Operating Officer for his new venture. To help him out with his venture, he has taken aboard a number of Apple managers and former colleagues from Google. They include Rebecca Zavin, Joe Tate, Linda Jiang and Jason Keats. While Zavin, a former Google employee would be manning the software, Keats and Tate are helping out with the hardware engineering. That aside, Kelly Liang and Brian Wallace would function as Business Development and Marketing executives respectively. According to sources familiar with Rubin, nearly 40 employees are currently working in the background for Rubin’s upcoming smartphone firm Essential.

Essential Inc. is reportedly working on a top of the line smartphone that is said to be backed by artificial intelligence. It’s however still not clear whether the smartphone would be running on Android or a new OS developed by the Essential team. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure, the software would be heavily dependent on AI. Sources familiar with the venture revealed that upcoming smartphone would come with a screen that’s larger than the current Apple iPhone 7 Plus. That said, it will come with an overall smaller footprint due to extremely narrow bezels. Well, it seems like we are looking forward to a device that’s set to encounter Xiaomi’s concept design smartphone Mi Mix. Industry reports also suggest that the Essential team is testing a new design with metal edges and a ceramic back.

Reports further reveal that Rubin’s new smartphone would come with a unique proprietary port that will serve the purpose of charging as well as expanding the device’s functionality. The idea is quite simple. The engineers at Essential are said to use a magnetic port that can be used for connecting various modules. For those unaware, it is nearly similar to what Motorola did with its Mods for the Moto Z. That said, the implementation here is a little different. It is reported that even third party brand would be able to create hardware accessories for the upcoming smartphone. The Essential team is in fact reportedly working on a sphere-shaped camera add-on that shoots high-resolution 360-degree photos.

Andy Rubin is planning to launch Essential’s first smartphone somewhere around the middle of this year. It is said to be priced alongside the likes of Apple iPhone 7 and Google Pixel. A person familiar with the matter revealed a price tag of around $649 (Rs 44,232 approx.) The team has been doing some background work off late, as Rubin was reported to be discussing his upcoming smartphone brand with mobile carrier executives from a number of firms including Sprint Corp at CES this year. With that said, the consumer hardware space is reputed to be a fiercely competitive market, and Andy Rubin’s upcoming firm Essential would need to face quite a few hurdles in case it plans to make its mark in the industry.

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