During an AMA yesterday on Reddit, Essential founder Andy Rubin and his company’s team answered a few interesting questions that are worth noting. The most interesting out of the bunch is the headphone jack situation on the Essential Phone. Some find the hundred-year-old port essential in their daily lifestyle, so not including it on the device confused a few folks and no doubt made them a bit more hesitant about buying the phone. Luckily, Essential confirmed they have a solution for this problem, and that’s building a magnetic module for the handset that included a high-quality DAC with built-in headphone jack.
According to Essential, they are “actively developing a high-end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack.” The company followed up by saying “our head of architecture is in Asia right now getting our high-end audio accessory super dialed. He graciously called me at 3AM today so we could talk about some specifics for our design.”
And for those of you wondering, here’s the company’s reason for omitting the jack originally.
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.
As for other modules, Essential says they’re working on a new charging dock which will allow users to place their phones on a special charging mat which will deliver power to the device. The reason behind not including something like Qi wireless charging is due to the company believing their solution to dropping your phone on a charging mat is “much more ‘Green’,” for what it’s worth.
Essential’s also working with partners to create cases for the PH-1.
Furthermore, Essential says Android Oreo for the Essential Phone is coming “in the next month or two” and will support Project Treble, Google’s new initiative to take on Android update fragmentation. Custom ROMs and kernels will also become available at some point in the future from developers, likely alongside the release of Oreo for the device. Rubin also says they’re “working closely with several brands to produce cases for our phone, so they’ll be coming from our friends and partners and not from Essential. We play nice with others, so we’re supporting lots of requests from accessory companies!” He later linked to this case for the PH-1.
Of course, some users brought up the whole camera software issue users are seeing with the Essential Phone, and here’s how Rubin addressed them.
We are pretty happy with the hardware design of the camera. We are using computational photography to fuse a monochrome and color sensors. 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
This doesn’t exactly give us any insight into what the company will be doing to improve the quality of photos and videos taken on the PH-1, but let’s hope these software updates keep making things better over time.
Finally, Essential confirmed they’re working on some new software tricks to better make their stock build of Android a bit more enjoyable to use. Whether these updates will ever ship is another question, but at least they’re in development.
You can double tap the power button to launch camera. We are also looking at adding some other good stuff like fingerprint gestures to pull down the notification shade. Keep your eyes out for updates!
You can read the full AMA here.