A mystery smartphone appeared in a new Michelin advertisement, and it seems to fit the description of Andy Rubin’s upcoming Essential smartphone. The phone is practically bezel-free except on the bottom, much like the Xiaomi Mi Mix, and is seemingly running what looks to be either the Android Messages app or the default Android text messaging app with only a few small UI changes. In the ad, the phone receives a text message that kicks off the storyline, sending the star waitress out into the rain to put her Michelin tires to the test and presumably get home to her homesick son Max.
Rubin’s Essential phone is still shrouded in mystery, but one thing that is known about it is that it’s going to be mostly bezel-free, according to a teaser image released by Rubin on Twitter last month. The image obscured most of the phone with Rubin’s hand, but the lack of a top bezel was apparent, and what looks to be either a small volume rocker or a power button is seen on the top right of its rounded frame. Save for the fact that a set of volume keys is seen on the left side and not the right, the phone in the commercial looks the same. If this is indeed the Essential phone, then the video is flipped. A part of the phone’s right edge is obscured by the waitress’ thumb, but the button is lower on the frame than the one seen in Rubin’s teaser image.
The phone in the commercial isn’t shown again after that one glimpse, but that’s enough to rule out a number of existing and upcoming bezel-free and small-bezel phones. The Xiaomi Mi Mix has much more angular corners, as does its upcoming sequel, and the same goes for the Doogee Mix. The chin of the phone also tells us it’s not a Doogee Mix due to its lack of a home button. Likewise, the chin doesn’t match the one found on any Sharp Aquos Crystal phones. Along the bottom, thanks to a transparent case, we see what seems to be a USB port, loudspeaker, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. No bezel-free phone out right now has the ports arranged this way along the bottom. Sharp’s Corner R concept from a few years back, meanwhile, lacks the prominent side buttons seen on this phone and has a Sharp logo on the bottom chin. While it’s entirely possible that this phone could be something else entirely or even just a generic mockup, it bears a striking resemblance to the Essential phone’s teaser image. The internet may well have just gotten its first glimpse at the full front body of Andy Rubin’s upcoming device.