Andy Rubin’s Essential phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, but the company is working on an accessory to bring it back.
As per a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything” thread), the team is “actively developing a high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack.”
If you find the absence of the popular port annoying, we feel you. But Essential does have an explanation as to why they decided not to include it:
“Headphone jacks are pretty big components and they don’t play nice with all-screen Phone architectures. We studied it very seriously, but fitting a headphone jack into our Phone required tradeoffs we were uncomfortable with. We’d have grow a huge “chin” in the display and reduce the battery capacity by 10%, or we’d need a huge headphone bump! We decided it was more important to have a beautiful full-screen display in a thin device with solid battery life.”
It’s not yet clear what the audio peripheral will do or how much it will cost, but it will be a way to use old headphones with the device.
“Our head of architecture is in Asia right now getting our high-end audio accessory super dialed,” a team member said. “He graciously called me at 3AM today so we could talk about some specifics for our design.”
In Business Insider’s review, Tony Villas-Boas said that the Essential PH-1 (or, more simply, Essential Phone) is a great device, and one of its special features resides in the two small magnetic dots at the top right corner on the back.
The proprietary pins allow Essential to create external “modules” that simply snap on to the device’s back and enhance some of its capabilities. For now, the company only offers a 360-degree camera, but other accessories (like the audio one) are on their way.
The Essential team also confirmed that customers can expect a charging dock to become available soon, as well as an update to the latest version of Google’s operating system, Android Oreo, which should begin to roll out within the next two months.
Other interesting tidbits from the AMA are with regard to the camera and the other versions of the Phone (in terms of colourations).
The camera is arguably the handset’s weakest spot, and it’s good to see that Essential has acknowledged this. “We are pretty happy with the hardware design of the camera. We are using computational photography to fuse a monochrome and colour sensors,” Rubin himself wrote.
“That’s the part we’re not too happy about, but luckily it’s software and we’ve already done a number of updates to the app to fix bug and add features.”
As for the non-black versions, it looks like customers will have to wait some more. “Pure White ceramic is in build trials now,” the team said. “We’re looking at a few weeks until they’re in boxes and shipping, especially as we fill the manufacturing backlog on Moon Black.”