From the makers of the failed Essential startup, here’s the Osom OV1. A “privacy-first” phone.

Ironic considering they use Android.

Does anyone here remember the Essential Phone? Probably a lot of you did. But for those who don’t, here’s a short history regarding the Essential startup.

Essential PH-1

Essential is a company founded by the creator of Android, Andy Rubin. It is a startup focused on creating a pure stock Android phone with flagship specifications. Its first and only released product is the Essential PH-1, which was notable for having a dewdrop notch. This notch was considered peculiar and an ugly choice at the time. It wasn’t the standard, and the design is definitely ahead of its time. The phone was released in 2017.

The main feature loved by enthusiasts on the PH-1 was its design. It used materials rarely seen on other flagship phones, such as bits of Titanium and ceramic. The phone’s main downsides were the cameras and the security. Its cameras weren’t as competitive as other handsets like Google’s own Pixel series, and certainly is not capable of defeating contemporary competitors like Huawei and OnePlus at the time. The phone also had a security flaw that made it more vulnerable to malware, despite it being stock Android Nougat.

Fast forward to the present time comes the Osom OV1, a phone which has a high priority on privacy. The phone was created by the same team who worked on the Essential phone. The name gives it away as it follows the same pattern as the Essential phone being two letters followed by a number. Though Osom doesn’t state that the phone is a “spiritual successor” to the Essential Phone.

The company said they had invested over $20 million in funding. In comparison, Essential had a much higher investment of $300 million before the PH-1 launch.

The high regard for privacy was to address one of Essential’s shortcomings. If you’re asking, NO, Andy Rubin has no involvement whatsoever in the Osom OV1 project. Other main features of the phone include a premium design and simplicity, something the Essential Phone had.

“Everybody’s got stuff they just don’t want on the internet — like, I know because I travel a ton, I have a picture of my passport, my green card, my driver’s license. I have them all, and I hate knowing they’re living on Google Drive. And that Google probably has access to them. And, if something goes wrong, anyone that has access to Google has access to that…. It’s nothing nefarious, it’s nothing shady, these are just things that are important to me, and I really don’t want them out in the world.Jason Keats, CEO of Osom, said.

Everybody’s got stuff like that — not necessarily photos; it’s files, it’s medical data, it’s financial data. Everything we do is around helping the user control what’s shared and what’s not shared.” he added.

One notable thing that makes the phone highly focused to privacy is that its USB-C cable has a small switch that lets you switch between charging-only or data-sharing, although this cable is intended to be sold separately.

Speaking of materials, the Osom OV1 uses a stainless steel side frame with chunks of titanium for its whole body. The cameras are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus so which should make it highly resistant to scratches when you put your phone in a crowded place, like pockets or minibags. The backplate is made ceramic, kinda like how the Essential was.

The phone isn’t intended to be sold in high numbers, but it is intended to perform similarly to a flagship phone. Osom said that they are rejecting carrier partnerships and exclusives and the phone is to be sold only in the US.

While the spec sheet isn’t out yet, the company has confirmed that the Osom OV1 will all use Sony-made sensors, including a 48mp main camera, 12mp ultrawide, and a 16mp selfie camera. The front design isn’t revealed yet but we’re guessing it would be a punch hole phone. You can also see of what appears to be a rear fingerprint scanner which is quite rare now on flagships since almost all have transitioned to an in-display fingerprint scanner.

According to TechCrunch, the phone will use a next-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, possibly the plus variant that’s to be released within the year. This will be a 4nm chipset that’s manufactured by TSMC instead of Samsung. The phone is also going to be larger than the Essential Phone and will feature a dual-SIM slot which is rare in the US. This was possible because Osom will not have any ties with any telco. In comparison, Essential struck a deal with Sprint, which limited their sale and made them SIM-locked to Sprint.

The phone will be released sometime this fourth quarter with a price of “well below $1000” (~Php 52K). Other features like the screen, Android skin (if there are any), or other security features are yet to be announced.

Source: TechCrunch, Android Police