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Essential’s next smartphone has a strange, new form factor

Remember Essential Phone? That’s the handset from Android co-creator Andy Rubin, and while reports last year suggested that a second-generation device had been canned, it now looks like the company has got something very different up its sleeve. Quite far up its sleeve, in fact, because it sure is long.

Rubin, tweeting beyond replies for the first time since reports of a $90 million severance payout from Google over misconduct allegations emerged, shared two pictures and one video of the new smartphone, named Project Gem. 

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The most interesting of these is the UI captured in the image at the top of the page, which shows quite how long the new handset is. Sharing the same dimensions as TV remotes from the 90s, the interface seems to show a card-based UI where apps have large, inviting buttons for control. 

On the back, captured in the tweet above is a single camera lens and a fingerprint reader near the top, which suggests you’re supposed to hold the handset from the middle. It’s also our first taste of the bold, shiny colour choices Essential seems to be backing. These colours shift in the light, too, as captured in the video below.

Initially, Rubin’s tweets gave no reference to this being an Essentia-branded product, but a few hours later the official account announced that it was indeed its baby with some more official-looking product shots. 

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Beyond this, we really don’t know much about what the phone will look like, or if the name Gem will stick. That said, the company seems to have put in a trademark application for the name, and last month xda-developers dug into some leaked code for an essential product which indicates an Android device with a “fingerprint walkie talkie” mode. The code refers to “sm7150”, which also leads the site to suspect it’s a Snapdragon 730-toting device which, if true, would make it an upper mid-range handset.

Does this strange new form factor work for you, or would you prefer something more traditional? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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