Essential teases Project GEM smartphone: Strange form factor with brilliant colors

It's been a couple of years since we've heard from Essential, but yesterday a couple of images appeared on its Twitter account. The Project GEM device looks like a remote control, but it is running some type of operating system on a full-screen display.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Essential released its first phone a couple of years ago, see our full review, with a stunning ceramic and titanium design that continues to be one of the most updated phones. Rumors of an Essential Phone 2 circulated for a bit, but nothing was ever released from this company founded by Andy Rubin.

Essential didn't provide any details or specifications on this Project GEM device but posted two images on Twitter. Four brilliant colors are shown with a camera centered near the top of the back and what may be a center fingerprint sensor. The form factor looks like a long TV remote control.

On the front, we see a long narrow full-screen display that has me wishing Samsung could have extended the front display on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It is likely this Project GEM device is running a version of Android and looking at the display, we see it connected to AT&T with LTE, Spotify, Phone, Maps (not a Google Maps icon though), Camera, Messages, and Gallery.

Also: Essential Phone review: Lovely titanium and ceramic with potential for greatness

Android and Essential founder, Andy Rubin, also showed some images on Twitter that show Maps in action, along with stating the colors are made with Colorshift material.

Image: Essential

There are two buttons on the right side that are likely power and volume buttons for this new phone. The 360 camera accessory from the Essential Phone is not compatible with this new phone.

While the Essential Phone is no longer in stock, it continues to be one of the first devices updated whenever Google releases Android Security and firmware updates for Android phones. The track record of updates is encouraging and shows there are still some folks keeping the lights on at Essential. With this Project GEM teaser, we see the lights may also be focused on much more than software updates for a two-year-old phone.

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