Amazon invests in Android OS creator’s new mobile phone

Essential Products, founded by Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin, said today that the company had closed a $300m investment round.

The series B investment was led by venture capital firm Access Technology Ventures.

The company is launching its first product, the Essential Phone, that has a 360-degree camera and a titanium casing.

Essential Products also disclosed strategic investors that include Amazon, via its Alexa Fund, Tencent Holdings and Foxconn.

Available soon

The company’s new $699 Essential Phone will be available “in the coming weeks,” said a spokeswoman, and will be sold unlocked on Amazon.

The latest funding round, which was reported on in June but previously unconfirmed by the company, gives Essential a valuation of about $900million to $1 billion.

But, even with its expanded war chest, CNET noted that the company will have a difficult time trying to break into the highly competitive phone market, which is dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Making it simple

Rubin said his new phone could find its place by disrupting that duopoly and offering customers something different. His big idea with Essential is to make things simpler for customers.

He wants to do away with dongles and connectors for his startup’s devices and find new ways to get different ecosystems — like iOS, Android and Alexa — to all work with his company’s operating system, Ambient OS.

Along with the phone, Essential is also developing a smart home hub.