Tencent, Foxconn and Amazon’ Alexa Fund are part of a $300 million investment round in Essential, whose new smartphone is apparently already in production. The $699 titanium-clad handset running Ambient OS is hoped to break the Samsung-Apple, Android-iOS duopoly in the smartphone sector.

Creator of Google’s Android, Andy Rubin, is the founder and CEO of Essential and has a vision to create hardware that communicates regardless of manufacturer and operating system. This includes simplifying all the attachments for devices and, it would seem, a passion for 360-degree photography. The “world’s smallest 360-degree personal camera” that clips onto the Essential Phone is also being developed and can be bundled with the handset for $749 in total. The company is also working on a smart home hub.

Writing on Essential.com, Rubin declares the company’s beliefs:

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...