Andy Rubin's new phone startup Essential is practially a unicorn already

Essential andy rubinEssentialThe Essential PH-1 phone.

Andy Rubin, an engineer known for developing Google’s Android operating system, has raised $US300 million (£231 million) for his new startup, Essential.

The funding round, which was first reported by Bloomberg, values Rubin’s firm at $US993 million (£765 million), according to analysis by research firm Equidate.

That means it is practically a “unicorn,” which is the term given to tech startups when they achieve a billion dollar valuation.

Essential did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Rubin ran the Android division at Google for nearly a decade. He left in 2014 and set up a tech incubator called Playground Global, which is where Essential spawned from.

The paperwork for the funding round was reportedly submitted towards the end of May, just before Rubin unveiled the company’s first two devices: a “PH-1” smartphone and a speaker to rival the Amazon Echo.

Prior to the funding round, Rubin raised $US30 million (£23 million) for Essential from Playground Global and Redpoint Ventures, according to Equidate. Essential’s other investors include Asian tech giants like Foxconn and Tencent based on the investor section on Essential’s website.

Rubin was on the brink of raising $US100 million (£77 million) from Japanese tech giant SoftBank but the funding fell through due to a conflict of interest with Apple, which has partnered with SoftBank on its $US100 billion (£770 million) Vision Fund.

The Essential PH-1 smartphone specs

The PH-1 is an upcoming Android device that packs some interesting features and clearly is intended to go head-to-head with the top smartphones from Apple and Samsung. The release date has not been confirmed.

The modular device has an edge-to-edge screen and magnetic connectors on the back that will allow owners to connect accessories, including a 360-degree camera that can be bought alongside the phone.

The PH-1 costs $US749 (£577) to reserve with the 360-degree camera. It comes unlocked and with 128 GB of internal storage. For just the phone, it will cost $US699 (£538). But unfortunately for international customers, it’s available only in the US, to begin with.

Along with that 128 GB of internal storage, it packs 4 GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Its casing is titanium and ceramic, and it comes in four colours — Black Moon (glossy black), Stellar Grey (matte dark grey), Pure White (glossy white), and Ocean Depths (a glossy green with bronze sides).

The screen is a hefty 5.7 inches — even larger than the 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 7 Plus — but the relative lack of bezels on it means it has a smaller footprint than you’d expect. The rear camera is 13 megapixels, while the front-facing camera is 8 megapixels. Both shoot 4K video.

Additional reporting by Rob Price.

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