Andy Rubin, one of the founders of Android, founded a company named ‘Essential‘ last year and has done what the company set out to do. Essential PH-1 is a first-generation smartphone with flagship qualities and Android 7.1.1 Nougat. There was no press unveiling, but Andy Rubin himself spoke in an interview to answer all questions pertaining to Essential PH-1 and the company’s new Essential Home smart hub. Essential PH-1 is a futuristic smartphone to say the least, and we know you want to hear about it, so let’s dive right into our full roundup of everything to know.
Unlike most high-end smartphones where just about every hardware spec and angle of the device is heard about or seen prior to any official announcement, reports failed to capture Andy Rubin’s phone. The Essential PH-1, as we now know the smartphone to be, has gone official today just as we expected. The Essential team that joined together a year or so ago after Rubin left Google has created a smartphone with all the essentials that’s easy to use, is up-to-date and looks to be from a future generation.
Essential PH-1 is a first-generation high-end product that we assume will be the first in a new product line. Hype is now very much alive, and we can’t wait to put this phone through its paces in our lab. Essential has taken a bold stance on design, which follows suite with the 2017 trend we’ve seen thus far with taller displays and little front bezel. Essential PH-1 features one of the more premium designs we’ve seen on a smartphone to date, with a body made of titanium as opposed to aluminium as well as a ceramic back. This means that the device will be more durable than what we’re accustomed to getting.
The form factor is rectangular and boasts a metal trim around the outside. Perhaps the most interesting part of the handset’s design, the front display, which is an edge to edge panel that reaches the top of the phone. Side bezels are razor-thin, leaving just the bottom for a somewhat sizable chin. Essential had one chance to nail this, and upon first glance, we think the strategy will prove to be worth it.
The Essential PH-1 packs a 5.71-inch QHD TPS LCD (Gorilla Glass 5) display with 2560 x 1312 pixels in the arrangement of a 19:10 display and features a gap for the front-facing camera. Not present are all the unnecessary elements, which give to the neat design on the front. It’ll be interesting to see how people attempt to use this phone in a single hand given its rather large size. The handset also features a magnetic connector for modular accessories, which will work similar to Moto Mods on Lenovo’s Moto Z phones, but with magnets instead of pins. This ability will allow users to add external functionality to their phone such as a 360-degree camera (which showed in a silhouette teaser) or extra battery by wirelessly connecting an attachment.
Powering the Essential PH-1 is the latest and greatest Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm paired with an Adreno 640 GPU. On board are 4GB of RAM, which I think it’s safe to say is the average for a high-end Android model this year. The device comes with a sealed 3,040mAh battery that can be charged near the bottom via USB Type-C, which is loaded with fast charging in the form of Quick Charge 3.0. Only one storage capacity will be for sale, that with 128GB of internal space and UFS 2.1.
Around the device, Essential has implemented no branding in the form of logos, but a dual 13MP rear camera with f/1.85 and a RGB monochrome system that has high hopes. Best of all, the sensor is slimmed down, and does not protrude out the back of the device. Also present along the back is a dual-tone LED flash, single microphone, a round fingerprint scanner, and the positive and negative charges for attaching accessories. The device also houses a camera on the front side which is of an 8MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture. The placement of it is quite intriguing.
Andy Rubin’s first-ever smartphone also gets it right when it comes to software. Google’s Android 7.1.1 Nougat will run the house from the moment the phone is taken out of its retail packaging. It will also receive security patches and Android updates soon after they arrive. See our Droid Updates Weekly Series. Google’s latest software will bring about a range of new features including doze on the go, bundled notifications, split screen multitasking, enhanced security, new emojis, and a new Vulkan API for better overall graphics performance. You’ll also have some Android 7.1.1 Nougat (MR1) exclusive features like app shortcuts, GIF touch keyboard support, live wallpaper metadata, and more. The Google Assistant is also pre-loaded, which is based on AI and machine learning and will improve with time and use. On top are a few additions made by Essential. We wouldn’t say they are part of a full-blown skin, but merely some added touches made to stock Android. As a result, performance should be smooth and updates should be of little work for the manufacturer, just as we fan boys like it.
Some embedded sensors include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/h/n/ac, GPS, NFC for making payments, as well as the latest Bluetooth version 5.0. The handset’s dimensions are 141.5mm x 71.1mm x 7.8mm, and the device all together weighs in at 185g. Volume controls are on the side of the device as well as the power key. The bottom houses the speaker grill, charging port, Nano SIM slot, and a microphone. No physical home button exists, and that’s because the Essential phone features software navigation keys instead. Oh, and the headphone jack, it’s not here either, but an adapter is included in every box.
The Essential PH-1 will be sold just like any other flagship phone of modern-day. It’ll be available in markets soon, and will come in color choices that will vary by location. Black Moon and Pure White will be up for sale initially, with Stellar Grey and Ocean Depths coming at a later date. There will be no carrier variants, meaning you’ll have to pay full price for the phone up front. Most U.S. carriers will be supported, including the big four. Pricing has been set at $699 unlocked. If you’re interested, the Black Moon or Pure White variants can be reserved at the link in brackets down below. This is not a pre-order, it’s just to save a spot in case demand eventually outweighs supply. Buyers can also reserve the add-on 360 camera mod attachment for just $50 extra (normally $199) for a limited time. More attachments are to come down the road. We’ll keep you informed.
Reserve Yours -> [Essential]
UPDATE: Andy Rubin revealed during the Code Conference that Essential PH-1 should ship in the next 30 days. No exact date was specified.
Full details and specs are available at the source link below, where Essential PH-1 is now listed. There, those of you interested can register for email updates. We’ll update you on whether Essential PH-1 makes our rankings for Best Android Smartphones. Be sure to let us know anything you wish to share about the smartphone in the open comment section below. We want to hear from you!
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