The Essential Phone is dead, long live the Essential Phone! That seems to be at least part of the sentiment behind OSOM, the privacy-focused smartphone startup that’s soon to unveil its first device. This week, OSOM offered a peek into what the OV1 will bring to the table, a few ways it will learn from and live up to the Essential Phone’s legacy, and a delay spawned from a chip upgrade.
OSOM OV1 is coming in Q4 with a new Snapdragon chip
As a part of its partial spec reveal, OSOM is delivering the somewhat unfortunate news that the OV1 won’t be launching in Q3 2022 but rather will be delayed until Q4 2022. There’s a good reason for that delay, though, as the phone will now be launching with a newer chipset “based on Snapdragon 8 series” instead of the aging Snapdragon 888. OSOM couldn’t disclose the exact chip, but the phrasing implies it will be something slightly newer than the existing Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Of course, the real standout benefit of the OSOM OV1 is supposed to be its privacy features, not its hardware. While the company didn’t have anything to share on what that software will entail just yet — apparently we’ll hear more on that over the summer — OSOM is showing off a “Secure Data Cable” that will ship with the OV1.
This special USB-C cable is included with the device and has a switch that disables data transfer. The idea is that, if you’re charging from a laptop or a random public charging port, this cable ensures your phone is only getting power. The switch disconnects the pins used for data transfer, with a status light to indicate what’s going on. Notably, the OV1 won’t include a charger in the box, just the cable, as is the current trend. The phone will also feature support for two physical SIM cards, but no eSIM due to the carrier partnerships that feature would require. Finally, there’s also support for UWB, as OSOM’s founder “believes” in the potential of that technology.
The OSOM team is learning from Essential Phone’s mistakes
I was a huge fan of the Essential Phone (PH-1) when it launched in 2017 (time flies, huh?), but there’s no denying the phone was a failure. It launched too late, had a poor-quality camera, and was far too expensive compared to the competition, all of which we covered in our review of the phone.
In a call with OSOM, including the company’s founder Jason Keats, the team expressed several ways they’re working to avoid the mistakes of the PH-1 and how the OSOM OV1 will pay tribute to the team’s roots in Essential. After all, a huge portion of the staff at OSOM is formerly from Essential.
For the hardware, the physical design of OV1 is certainly inspired by the best bits of the PH-1, and it’s going to share some materials in common too. The back of the phone is made from a Ceramic Zirconia material, just like the PH-1, and will come in a polished white and a matte black. A “secret” third color is coming too, but OSOM won’t share any details on that. On its social media last month, the company teased it might be working on purple, yellow, blue, and green options. Green was the crowd favorite.
OV1 will have a stainless steel body to complement that back, with titanium buttons and a titanium camera module inspired by what the Essential PH-1 used for its chassis. The display will have Gorilla Glass Victus.
OSOM says that OV1 will be noticeably larger than the Essential Phone for two reasons: 5G support and a bigger battery. The phone’s exact capacity hasn’t been disclosed, but tests so far show “beyond all-day” battery life.
The biggest failure of Essential was the camera, and OSOM says it has enlisted “the best teams” to help deliver a “truly flagship” experience to customers. The physical hardware includes a 48MP primary camera with a 12MP secondary camera. The focal lengths (telephoto or ultrawide) aren’t being revealed yet.
In the software department, one of my biggest questions for OSOM was how they would live up to the legacy of Essential’s Android updates. Handling that will be the same team that delivered the famously fast updates to PH-1, including one employee who kept the phone alive past Essential’s downfall. The team also confirmed to us that OV1 will see around four years of Android updates, with a chance that it could be extended further if people are still using the device.
More on OSOM:
- OSOM ‘OV1’ is coming next year for under $1k, built by the former team behind Essential
- Former Essential Phone team creates OSOM, plans privacy-focused Android hardware in 2021
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