Cables begone! The Essential Phone's magnetic connectors look to a cordless future
Monday 05 June 2017

Cables begone! The Essential Phone's magnetic connectors look to a cordless future

Andy Rubin's Essential Phone was just announced today and it's a pretty interesting device, to say the least. Built with ease of use and freedom of choice in mind, the handset has a few features that stand out, its modular capabilities among them.

So, the Essential Phone rocks two tiny magnetic connectors on its back. These allow for Essential modules to be attached to the phone with a simple snap and provide charge and data transfers. Right now, there are two modules available — the tiny but very promising 360 camera, and a charging dock / mat. It seems that the company intends on keeping the connector as a standard for years to come, as it promises that this feature is “future-proof”. We can only assume that more modules may be in the works and that they will be able to fit different generations of the Essential Phone, just how Motorola's Moto Z modules are promised to be cross-generation compatible.

The “world's smallest 360-degree camera”

The Essential 360-degree camera looks a lot like the LG 360 Cam, only it's much, much smaller and has the proprietary magnetic connectors on it, which latch on to the Essential Phone. The camera sports two 12 MP sensors on either side. The 360 effect is achieved thanks to the 210-degree lenses over said sensors — the imagery from both sides gets overlapped and stitched together into a photosphere. It's capable of achieving a 3840 x 1920 pixel resolution at 30 FPS and records audio from 4 separate microphones for better stereo imaging.

When we said that the camera is tiny, we weren't kidding. It measures at 2.6 x 1.25 x 0.47 inches (67 x 32 x 12 mm) and weighs a measly 1.23 Oz (35 g). This should make it extremely easy for users to carry the camera around without it feeling like a cumbersome accessory.

The Essential Phone Dock

Essential is dedicated to cordless connections and ease of use. That's why it's no surprise that the second accessory that makes use of the magnetic connectors is a charging dock. Looking like a comfy mat, the dock is designed for your handset to lie down on. Just snap it in place and it will start charging. Of course, we don't assume that this is the only way that the Essential Phone will be able to be charged — it does rock a USB Type-C port on its bottom, so it's safe to assume that you'd be able to charge it the old-fashioned way.