Mobile World Congress would be OSOM’s big debut. After a few months of teasing, the North American (US/Canadian) smartphone maker, founded in the wake of Essential’s collapse, is set to unveil its first handset amid a week of major mobile news. But plans change. People decide that traveling to a major conference on another continent may still be a daunting task. And sometimes a big chipmaker knocks on your door and asks if you want to push your launch back a quarter.

OSOM was understandably convinced that it would be a wise business decision to push things back to launch a new device with the latest Qualcomm chip. That included moving the release of the OV1 from a wide Q3 to an equally wide Q4. Not the end of the world. After all, people buy a lot of phones in the fourth quarter. And let’s be real, by the time the third quarter rolls around, last year’s big Snapdragon announcement is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth.

For obvious reasons, the company cannot reveal what the next chip will be. However, given OSOM’s focus on launching a flagship-quality device, it seems a pretty safe bet that it will be a successor to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – whether that be the equivalent of a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ (this will be inappropriate) or a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 depends on the launch timing and Qualcomm’s roadmap.

“They love that we are local. We have a long history with the team of working directly with them,” Founder and CEO Jason Keats tells TechCrunch. “One of our partners is big enough that Qualcomm said, ‘Holy shit, do you work with them? We also want to be more involved in what you do.’ They came back and said that OSOM has the opportunity to do something new, exciting. To change how this all works. And I think part of that is that we’re not a huge company, so if their revenue isn’t huge, they don’t have to worry about me getting five million chips in a month.”

The company has some wiggle room for the release date, thanks to $20 million in funding to date. It’s also “a few weeks” from announcing the Series A. Despite the relative modesty surrounding its first sale, Keats believes the company’s direct selling approach and availability in North America and Europe through additional channels such as Amazon will help the company will help grow rapidly, forecasting top five/10 in worldwide shipments by one year – with the very important caveat that all BBK companies (Oppo/OnePlus, Vivo, Realme, iQOO) are all clumped together.

As OSOM noted at the outset, this is about privacy. While we wait for additional details, the startup has provided some insight into – of all things – the USB-C that comes in the box. It features a physical switch that allows users to switch between simple charging and data sharing. It’s a smart addition, and surprisingly not one I’ve seen before. Along with the switch is a blinking light that lets you know what mode it’s in. The cable is also sold separately, with a price TBD.

“We’re so focused on putting users in control and putting privacy at their fingertips that we wanted to integrate that into everything we build,” Dave Evans, the company’s VP of Design, told TechCrunch. “Not on the phone, but also everything that’s in the box. With that cable, with which you can let people know at any time that they are going to power the device or transfer information, they have full control over that.”

The company offered a few additional details. The frame is stainless steel, sandwiched by Gorilla Glass Invictus on the front and ceramic on the back, in white, matte black and a third “fun” color. In short, premium materials, all around.

Part of the Qualcomm deal is about camera equipment integrated into the unannounced (presumably) Snapdragon chip. The OV1 has dual cameras on the rear with 48 and 12 megapixels, coupled with a 16 megapixel one on the front – all Sony sensors.

Image Credits: OSOM

“One of the biggest mistakes Essential made was not focusing on the camera nearly as much as he should,” Keats says of his former employer. “You read reviews like ‘great design and engineering, kind of poor connectivity and a terrible camera experience.'”

The device will have two physical SIM slots – the company notes it doesn’t want it released to carriers after the Essential/Sprint deal. The handset is also physically larger than the PH-1, in part due to a larger battery, which is currently “more than all day”. The OV1 will also support Ultra wideband.

The exact launch date is still TBD – as is the price, although Keats previously told us the privacy-focused device will be “well under $1,000”, which frankly qualifies as cheap for flagships these days. The news follows our own recent coverage of nothing coming into the smartphone game, with a major announcement ahead of next month. Notably, the company bought assets after Essential’s implosion, though TechCrunch founder Carl Pei confirmed the move was just for branding as the company briefly considered revitalizing its name.

The handsets will arrive during a transition period for an industry that has suffered from sluggish sales after a decade of explosive growth. The world of smartphones is a mature world to say the least. Buying has slowed down and people are generally satisfied with the quality of the device which has improved dramatically in recent years. Real disruption will have to happen bottom-up, as part of the market is currently controlled by a handful of players.

OSOM, for its part, bets big that privacy is distinctive enough to keep sales out — well, privacy coupled with a decent marketing budget to drive some of those concerns home. The company also sees itself as more than just a hardware maker – which, let’s face it, pretty much has to these days.

“We are building a complete solution for privacy,” says Keats. “We want to build devices and software and services that facilitate the privacy of individual users. And that can be as simple as integrating our software partners into our hardware to give them a real foundation to work, rather than just downloading their app from an app store. We can install it at the system level.”

That includes collaborating with companies on various solutions. In January, OSOM officially announced a “long-term strategic partnership” with HP, although details of the deal are yet to be announced.



This post OSOM talks about its first phone ahead of a Q4 release – TechCrunch

was original published at “https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/03/osom-talks-its-first-phone-ahead-of-a-q4-release/”