Being average-looking is fine, but being attractive-looking makes everything better. The Essential Phone is downright sexy. Essential is doing away with bezels while focusing on strength. Created from titanium and ceramic rather than aluminum, it has a body capable of withstanding drops and knocks no other phone can. And there’s a barely-there border around the display.
Of course you need to be more than nice to look at, though. Essential seems to know that. Its first phone, a 2017 flagship without question, is high-end. The specifications show that, and the price reaffirms that.
Who’s behind the Essential Phone? Well, Essential. It’s a new company started by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. After leaving Google a few years ago, he recruited people from the world’s strongest companies in the mobile industry. Former employees at Google, Apple, and HTC joined Essential to aide in product development, management, and communications. Essential is a company filled with people who succeeded elsewhere and are ready for a new challenge. This product, technically known as the PH-1 Phone, is what they’ve delivered first.
Essential’s name boils down to simplicity, and that’s what you get from the design. Not a single company or carrier logo is on the exterior. All you get is a rectangular piece of titanium and ceramic, which the company claims doesn’t “scratch, dent, or bend.” It’s why the Essential Phone will not have any first-party cases.
The Essential Phone features a 5.71-inch Quad HD (2560×1312) LCD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, two 13MP rear cameras, an 8MP front camera, a 3040mAh battery, a USB-C port (also the only port), and a fingerprint scanner.
A couple of things are included to make this phone noticeable in a crowded and fierce industry, especially in the United States. The Essential Phone’s bezel is extremely small. It actually resembles 2014’s Sharp Aquous Crystal and 2016’s Xiaomi Mi Mix. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, these phones truly do away with the bezel pretty much everywhere. You only get a small chin below the display. Essential didn’t stretch the aspect ratio to achieve this engineering feat. The 2017 flagships from Samsung and LG have 18.5:9 aspect ratios, but the Essential Phone’s is 19:10 and thus closer to the traditional 16:9.
Surprisingly, Essential believes modules for mobile devices still have a place in the world. LG’s failure and Lenovo’s struggle with them hasn’t prevented the company from including support. A 360-degree camera can be attached to the Essential Phone in order to create immersive photographs and videos. It just clicks into two little notches on the back and then adds two 12MP cameras to the device.
Those same notches are what connects the Essential Phone to a docking station for wireless charging. Essential hasn’t said whether or not outside companies can create accessories to work with the Click connector.
Since it’s a company headed by one of Android’s creators, the Essential Phone is presenting very clean software. You’re not going to see a heavy software overlay or extra apps. Essential went with the, you guessed it, essentials. It’s just you and Android without any barrier.
We’re still waiting on full details surrounding the software, but the company has confirmed Android 7.1.1 Nougat is on the Essential Phone. Later this year, if Rubin has any say, the phone will probably be one of the first non-Google devices to get Android O.
Color options include Black Moon, Pure White, Stellar Grey, and Ocean Depths. The first two will be offered right away as the second two are held to arrive at a later time.
The Essential Phone doesn’t have a release date; however, we do know availability will be limited to the United States at the start and how much it’ll cost. It’s up to reserve now for free, but the actual price is $699 if you want only the phone. A special bundle including the 360-degree camera raises the price by just $50, which means you’re saving $149. Essential plans on selling its phone and 360-degree camera together for $899 once the reserve/pre-order window closes and the release date hits.
Until we get our hands on it, we won’t know whether or not the Essential Phone is a device people should gamble on. The design and specifications are promising for sure. Where things get a little uncertain is how it all comes together, and we definitely don’t know if the market will welcome yet another brand.
Reserve it now: Essential