Andy Rubin has quite a profile. He co-founded Android Inc. which Google later acquired while also securing Rubin’s services (early days of Android OS). He also co-founded Danger Inc. that specialized in developing hardware, software, and services for mobile devices. Danger Inc was later acquired by Microsoft. Today, he leads Essential Products. If there is one company to be credited (or blamed) for smartphone notches, it is Essential Products.
Its Essential Phone is credited with a few firsts, the notch being one of them (more about them in a bit). However, for almost a year, the Essential phone was available to customers in the US only. Now, this phone will be available for purchase in the UK, Japan, France, and Canada. In this light, talking about the Essential Phone makes sense as Essential Products is likely to come to India soon (India being a growing market and all, plus here’s the listing). Multiple reports on the web have pointed out that India is one of the next stops for Essential Products (take a look here, here, and here).
|Specifications||Essential Phone PH-1|
|Price||$499 (approx. Rs 33,000)|
|Processor||2.45GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 540 GPU|
|Display||LCD, 5.71-inch, Quad HD (2560x1312p) resolution, 19:10 aspect ratio|
|Internal Storage||128GB (non-expandable)|
|Operating System||Android 8 Oreo|
|Rear Camera||13-megapixel RGB + 13-megapixel monochrome lenses|
|Battery||3040mAh with Fast Charging|
|Dimensions (l x b x h)||141.5mm x 71.1mm x 7.8mm|
|Fingerprint Scanner||Yes, rear-mounted|
|Water/Dust resistance||Yes, IP54-certified|
What’s new about the Essential Phone?
The Essential Phone was launched in the US for a price of $700 (approx. Rs 46,700 at current exchange rate). In the following months, Essential dropped the price of the phone to $499 (approx. Rs 33,000). In the UK, Canada, Japan, and France, the phone will be available at its reduced price. So, upon coming to India, expect this phone to carry a similar (or lower as the phone is almost a year old) price tag. That said, there are three colors of the phone available internationally. The Black Moon and Pure White color options are available for $499 while the Stellar Grey is available for $599 (approx. Rs 40,000). With that out of the way, let’s dive deeper into the device.
The Essential Phone is powered by an octa-core 2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. This is paired with 4GB RAM and Adreno 540 GPU. It features a display measuring 5.71 inches diagonally. It is an LCD display with Quad HD (2560x1312p) resolution and 19:10 aspect ratio. Its rear camera is made up of two 13-megapixel lenses – one being a monochrome and the other an RGB unit. These two lenses use image fusion technology to reproduce an image in all its colorful glory. These lenses have f/1.85 aperture and use hybrid auto focus (which combines contrast, Phase Detect, and Laser focus technologies). The rear camera also features a 13-megapixel true monochrome mode. The front camera is an 8-megapixel unit having f/2.2 aperture and fixed focus. The phone has 128GB internal storage for all those photos and selfies you click but it cannot be expanded further. When launched, it ran on Android 7 Nougat. Today, it should run on Android 8 Oreo right out of the gate.
The Essential Phone offers Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and single Nano-SIM connectivity features. The phone uses a USB type-C port for charging and to accept connections from accessories like third-party wired headphones. On the back, there are 2 accessory power pins that allow users to connect Essential accessories, like 360-degree camera, to the phone. Also, on the back of the phone is a fingerprint scanner, however it does not double up as the power button. The phone features a 3040mAh battery that offers fast charging as well. It measures 141.5mm x 71.1mm x 7.8mm (l x b x h) and weighs 185g. The device carries IP54 water/dust resistance certification (a bit of a downer).
Is the Essential Phone worth consideration?
The Essential Phone has gone for an almost all-display look on the front. In the process, it has become the first phone to sport such a big LCD display. Most of its rivals sport an LED display up front. The phone also popularized the notch (not the iPhone X). Moreover, it showed that having a notch can be an exercise in minimalism. It could have done away with that chin, though that’s not a dealbreaker. The phone uses magnetic pins (like Motorola Moto Z range) to attach and power accessories like the 360-degree camera. However, unlike the Motorola devices, the Essential Phone uses just two magnetic pins to connect and power accessories.
Another first for this phone is the absence of any branding on its body. It’s all clean from front to back, lending to the minimalistic design theme of the phone nicely. The Essential Phone makes use of Titanium and Ceramic in its construction, giving it a premium feel. Per Essential, Titanium is a more durable material than aluminium, making it more suitable for use on smartphones. Usage of titanium in the phone’s chassis leads to usage of antenna lines around the phone’s sides for various transmitters and receivers. The Ceramic back panel gives the phone a luxurious feel with high scratch resistance. However, it will likely be a fingerprint magnet like glass.
The Essential Phone comes in six different color options and all get a nice contrasting color for their frame as well. These colors are Pure White, Ocean Depths, Stellar Grey, Copper Black, Black Moon, and Halo Grey (of these, Halo Grey, which has Amazon Alexa, will likely come to India). The Essential Phone was decried for being too costly upon launch. However, since the drop in its price, it has become a much better purchase proposition. It was also decried for its bad camera quality but that can be fixed with software updates. Since the phone runs on stock Android OS, getting software updates on this phone when they are rolled out should not be a problem.
The real question is who consider buying this phone? Those who have gotten bored with Samsungs and Apples should consider it. Those who like their phones to look and feel clean and luxurious should consider it. Those who want a phone that stands out from the crowd and has some neat tricks up its sleeve should consider it. However, if one is not willing to bet on a new smartphone (quite radically at that) in the market, they should not consider it. Audiophiles may want to skip it as it does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack and carrying a USB type-C-to-3.5mm dongle is not everybody’s cup of tea. Upon its launch, it is expected to offer a great value-for-money proposition, upping its prospects quite a bit.
Essential Phone India – Synopsis
- Launched in UK, France, and Japan with prices equivalent to US price of $499
- Multiple reports claim Essential Products (and Essential Phone) India-bound in near future
- Sports Titanium chassis and Ceramic back panel
- Powered by octa-core 2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, 4GB RAM, and Adreno 540 GPU
- 71-inch LCD display has Quad HD (2560x1312p) resolution and 19:10 aspect ratio
- 128GB internal storage space, no expansion available
- Will likely run on stock Android 8 Oreo
- Small notch on front panel hides sensors and front camera
- Twin 13-megapixel rear camera setup comprises of a monochrome and an RGB lens
- No 3.5mm headphone jack, USB type-C-to-3.5mm dongle supplied
- 2 accessory magnetic power pins help attach accessories like 360-degree camera
- Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner does not double up as power button
- 3040mAh battery on the phone supports fast charging tech but no wireless charging
- IP54 water/dust resistance certification seems odd