How Essential is taking on giants with a small-batch smartphone

Essential’s Toronto launch party was your standard tech industry launch gathering – with one key exception: Lining one wall was a series of three booths, demonstrating the Essential Phone’s camera tech, design process and hardware engineering respectively, and each was staffed by people who actually did the work.

That’s exceptional because you almost never get the chance to talk directly with the engineers actually doing frontline work on consumer devices, even as media with access. Typically, the people you get to talk to have a deep familiarity with the products they’re showing off, but they’re trained specifically to interact with the public and press, and are seldom deeply involved with the engineering or design process.

That’s partly because

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