The Osom OV1 looks like Essential’s failed phone but with modern specs

This new phone, expected to ship in Q4 2022, will be one of the most ambitious in recent years.

Ever heard of Osom? Chances are you haven’t, but you’re about to see that name everywhere. The company is the result of a reunion between ex-Essential employees who have teamed up to launch its own smartphone, with the initial result of their efforts being the OV1. The device was originally supposed to make a formal debut this week, as reported by TechCrunch, but the company decided to delay the launch to finish the device. And for good reason.

Meet the OV1

  • Osom’s OV1 is essentially a modern remake of the Essential PH-1 from 2017 with a ceramic design, flat sides, and minimal bezels.
  • The device will ship with flagship specs and a unique charging system.
  • It’s not clear exactly how much it’ll cost, but Osom says it’ll be priced “well below” $1,000.

It’s a flagship!

There’s nothing about the OV1 that suggests it’s anything less than a flagship. Osom is sticking with a design instantly familiar to anyone who’s seen the Essential Phone. Covered in ceramic and stainless steel, the phone will ship with flat sides and a completely flat display (with Gorilla Glass Victus for protection). Compared to other Android phones on the market, the OV1 will resemble the latest iPhones more than anything. It’ll ship in matte black, glossy white, and some “surprise” colors that may or may not resemble the color seen above.

Speaking of the display, Osom says the phone will ship with a screen that’s “noticeably bigger” than the 5.7-inch panel originally found on the PH-1, although it’s unclear exactly how big it’ll be. Luckily, unlike the PH-1, the OV1 will use an OLED panel for better colors and contrast.

Under its hood, Osom plans on including a Snapdragon 8 series processor, although it didn’t mention which one. This is actually where that announcement date slip-up comes into play: Osom wanted to fully unveil the phone this week during MWC 2022, but it wanted more time so it could upgrade the chip to something more powerful. Of course, what that upgrade entails remains a mystery, but fingers-crossed it’s at least the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Because of the stainless steel used in the phone’s design, Osom is struggling to fit a big enough battery. It told Android Police that it’s in the process of strategically shaving down the steel in order to fit a larger battery, “squeezing every mAh” it can inside. The result will be “beyond-all day” endurance with “regular use,” but that won’t mean much until reviewers test the phone.

The cameras will be a big priority for Osom, as they should be. The PH-1’s biggest downfall was its camera quality which was starkly lackluster, so it’ll be interesting to see what the same engineers can cook up for this new device. They apparently have the “best teams in the world for a truly flagship camera experience.” The system will consist of 48MP and 12MP Sony sensors on the back, with a 16MP up front for selfies.

In addition, Osom says the phone will come with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, but it’s unclear what it’ll be used for (other companies like Apple and Samsung use it for digital car keys and improved location tracking). It’ll also include 5G (minus mmWave connectivity) and dual physical SIM slots.

Privacy-focused

One of the biggest selling points for the OV1 will be privacy, which Osom is taking into close consideration with the phone’s development. The device will even ship with a special cable that includes a kill switch for data transfer pins so you can feel safer plugging your phone into a public outlet. An LED indicator will also tell you when data is being transferred to your phone. “We’re really so focused on giving users control and making sure they have privacy at their fingertips that we wanted to embed that in every single thing we build,” the company’s VP of Design, Dave Evans, told TechCrunch. “Having that cable, where you can let people know at any time that they’re just going to get power on the device or start transferring information, they’re totally in control of that.”

A Q4 2022 launch

Osom says it’s currently planning to launch the OV1 in the fourth quarter of this year for an undisclosed price. That being said, the company expects to start the device at under $1,000 which could make it a serious competitor for devices like the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 6. What’s more, the company says it won’t be offering the phone exclusively through any carriers, unlike the PH-1 which landed on Sprint and Sprint alone.

My takeaway

This phone looks incredibly interesting, just like the PH-1 did. I’m not saying it’ll meet the same fate as Essential’s first stab at the smartphone world, but it’ll most certainly be an uphill battle if Osom ever plans to gain marketshare.

The company seems abundantly confident, however, that’ll do just that. This paragraph from TechCrunch‘s article highlights the company’s somewhat overly ambitious goals for its first phone.

The firm has some wiggle room for release date, courtesy of $20 million in funding thus far. It’s also “a couple of weeks” away from announcing its Series A. In spite of the relative humbleness around initial sales, [CEO Jason Keats] believes the company’s direct sales approach and availability in North America and Europe through additional channels like Amazon will help it grow quickly, with an expectation of top five/10 in global shipments with a year — with the very important caveat that all of the BBK companies (Oppo/OnePlus, Vivo, Realme, iQOO) are all clumped together.

What will assure me that Osom has a chance at becoming one of the top 10 global smartphone shippers in the next year will be how good the OV1 is. First-time smartphone OEMs, historically speaking, take a couple of years to find their beat and establish a solid formula to build their market presence. Whether Osom will surprise everyone and do that with just one phone has yet to be seen, but I suppose anything’s possible.

For the record, I’m very excited about this phone. I’m digging the design a lot, and Osom’s focus on privacy is very intriguing. I’m just skeptical at how big and fast Osom thinks it can grow in such a short amount of time. Only time will tell, I suppose.