Essential Phone 128 GB Unlocked with Full Display, Dual Camera – Black Moon
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- The Essential Phone is expertly crafted using titanium and ceramic, with an edge-to-edge Full Display and uses the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835
- Edge-to-edge Full Display - With the stunning edge-to-edge Full Display on the Essential Phone there's finally a large-screen device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
- The world’s thinnest dual camera system - The camera system consists of color and monochrome sensors to capture up to 200% more light than traditional phone cameras. This results in stunning images that are rich in color and detail, even in low light.
- Accessories that simply click - With the phone's revolutionary magnetic connector, accessories can easily attach to your device so it's future-proof and always up-to-date.
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|Screen Size||5.71 in||5.7 in||5.7 in||5.9 in||5.5 in||5.5 in|
|Item Dimensions||0.31 x 2.8 x 5.57 in||2.83 x 0.31 x 5.86 in||2.83 x 0.31 x 5.86 in||0.31 x 6.18 x 3.11 in||2.99 x 6.09 x 0.31 in||2.73 x 0.32 x 5.61 in|
|Item Weight||6.56 ounces||5.76 ounces||5.76 ounces||6.7 ounces||5.96 ounces||5.12 ounces|
|Operating System||Android 7.1.1||google_android||google_android||Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.0||Android 7.1 with HTC Sense™||google_android|
Essential is a new kind of company. Founded on our commitment to true craftsmanship, personalization and simplification. We're using 21st century methods to build products for 21st century people.
Andy Rubin, Creator of Android
Founder and CEO of Essential
From the Manufacturer
Essential Phone is expertly crafted using titanium and ceramic, has an edge-to edge Full Display and captures stunning images (even in low-light) with a color and monochrome dual system camera.
Your phone is an expression of who you are and it should have only the things you want and need.
No forced loyalty.
128GB Comes Standard.
The innovation opportunities are endless with our magnetic connector. Keeps your phone cord-free and always up-to-date with accessories that click.
Simply click the world's smallest 4K 360° camera to capture all of the important moments in complete surround.
Titanium is the perfect material to create one of the most essential things in our lives. It resists scratches and dents far better than aluminum.
Other 360° cameras are big, bulky, and complicated to use. We thought it was about time someone made a 360° camera for the rest of us. Simply click the 360° camera to your phone to point, shoot, and share. It’s that easy.
Describe your product in 3 words.
Freedom is Essential
How did you come up with the idea for this product?
I know people are going to ask me a lot of questions about why I started this company. Why didn’t I just travel the world, ride my motorcycle, tinker with my robots, hang out at my bakery with friends and family. And to be honest I still do ask myself that sometimes…but not too often.
So why did I create Essential? Well, my hardware engineers wanted me to talk about how we are bringing real passion and craftsmanship back into this category. My software engineers wanted me to talk about our vision for making all devices, even those we don't make ourselves, play well together. My partners wanted me to talk about how we are using methods that could change how successful technology companies are built forever.
And this is all true.
But the real reason is because of what happened during a night out with an old friend of mine. As the night went on we inevitably began talking about what we didn't like about the current state of technology. Less and less choice. More and more unnecessary features cluttering our lives. An increasing sea of products that didn't work with one another…
And just when I was about to drop another criticism it hit me: I am partly responsible for all of this.
For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?
I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.
What makes your product special?
This is what we believe:
• Devices are your personal property. We won’t force you to have anything on them you don’t want to have.
• We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated.
• Premium materials and true craftsmanship shouldn’t be just for the few.
• Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.
• Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying your life.
• Simple is always better.
What has been the best part of your startup experience?
I have used the above principles to inform everything Essential is doing and they have helped me attract some of the best and brightest people from all over the world to join me in bringing this vision to life. We won’t achieve everything we hope on day one, but if you’re one of those people who also thinks it’s time for something new, please have a look at www.essential.com to learn more.
Top customer reviews
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Simply put, the Essential phone is an eye-catcher. The ceramic back is clean and beautiful, though it does attract fingerprints like crazy—of course, which phone doesn't, these days? The titanium frame offers a high-end feel to it, and the front screen is made of Gorilla Glass 5. It is a heavy, substantial phone, given its relative size.
Essential claims it needs no protective case, and indeed if you look for one, you are hard-pressed to find a case anywhere. Amazon pretty much only offers skins, which is somewhat frightening to consider. However, the ceramic back is comfortable to hold onto, though it does tend to slide off surfaces if they’re not flat.
It comes with a speaker on the bottom side that is just OK. You will not be listening to music through this speaker unless you have no other choice. That is a non-issue for me, but it is something you might consider.
Also, going with what seems to be a trend in smartphones, the Essential phone does not have a headphone jack, though it does come with an adapter dongle which fits into the USB-C port. Personally, I almost never use headphones, so it’s another non-issue for me.
There is a powerful Snapdragon 835 processor under the hood and 4GB of memory, which is more than enough for just about anyone. There is 128 gig of storage that comes standard...that's right, standard. Given that most phones charge you a lot more for that much storage, it's a great deal--especially at the currently reduced prices.
The fingerprint sensor works every time, perfectly, and very quickly. It’s the fastest fingerprint scanner I’ve ever used, and unlike the S8, the sensor sits in a convenient place on the back. The PH-1 is not water-proof. It’s rated only to withstand a light sprinkle or splash, and that’s about it.
The screen is not OLED, which is something that has stirred up some controversy, at least among reviewers and phone junkies. However, Essential’s LCD screen is crisp and quite bright—it renders colors beautifully. Comparing it to the Galaxy S8, side by side, the difference was not as stark as one might believe. Colors pop and blacks are particularly rich for a non-OLED screen. The bezel-less design looks gorgeous, and the little camera notch at the top seems to disappear almost immediately. No, this screen is not as flashy as the one on the Galaxy S8, but it’s not too far behind. I find Essential’s screen is not as saturated as Samsung’s and is much easier on the eyes for long periods of viewing.
So far, the battery pretty much lasts the day. I usually have to charge when I get home in the evening, which is disappointing but typical of every phone I've used. The phone also comes with a fast charging and a USB-c cable with a high end braided design. It charges up really fast.
The Essential PH-1 comes loaded with stock Android and almost nothing else. This lack of bloatware is refreshing, especially after using Samsung’s software. The phone zips along, and I have so far encountered no glitches or stutters at all. Recent updates have cleared up some glitches and shutdowns that were plaguing the phone’s early release. Now, it’s smooth and consistent with an experience much like what you would find with iOS. In fact, iPhone users thinking of switching to Android might want to consider the Essential, as it would be an easier transition than having to figure out a whole lot of bloatware.
Unlike most other Android phones, Essential doesn’t have any of the redundancies that cause so many switchers to run back to Apple—no double notifications for two different email clients or three separate weather apps. It’s basically like a Pixel phone, but with a better screen and more impressive physical design.
Here is where the controversy with this phone actually lies, and where I feel the need to clear up a whole lot of misconceptions. Many phone reviewers have trashed the camera, probably because they were using a version that Essential should never have sent out. Just remember that when you’re reading those reviews, most of them were written in July or August, which is light years away from where this phone currently sits.
In short, this phone’s camera is good in its current state. I see very little difference between photos taken with this camera and the iPhone 7 Plus I used this past year. It’s true there had been some software issues with the onboard camera app, but they seem to have been fixed over the course of several recent updates.
This camera produces true colors that sometimes can still be slightly dark in less than ideal lighting conditions. However, I tried a side by side test with a Galaxy S8+, and I found each camera had strengths and weaknesses when it came to shooting in low light. The Galaxy tended to overexpose the photo, washing out the colors, or oversaturating the shot. The Essential tended to replicate a truer version of the room, which meant some parts were slightly dark, but the subject was closer to its actual color.
The Essential camera operates with one color camera and one black and white camera, using software to combine the two images to provide truer colors and more clarity. When it first shipped (especially the versions sent to tech reviewers), the software was a mess, causing the camera to lag, shut down, freeze, and take horrible shots, especially in low lighting. However, these deficiencies were not caused by the cameras themselves, but the software. That’s a good thing because software can be sorted out and fixed, which is what Essential has done—and what they continue to do. In fact, a significant software update came just two nights ago, fixing the speed with which the app combines the color and black and white images.
By the way, I've been having A LOT of fun using the mono-mode black and white camera. It takes some of the sharpest images I've ever taken on a phone camera.
So, what’s the verdict on this supposedly terrible camera? After the recent updates, it’s a good camera with the potential to be great, if Essential continues to make incremental adjustments, which they do seem to be committed to.
Are there drawbacks? Sure! There are drawbacks to virtually any phone you buy. The lack of waterproofing and no headphone jack might turn some people away, understandably. Also, the fact that you cannot buy a protective case for this phone is highly worrisome. I am not sure I trust them when they say the titanium is so strong it does not need a case. One drop straight to that Gorilla Glass and…
However, the strengths of the Essential phone far outweigh those drawbacks, at least for me, and the PH-1 should at least warrant more consideration than it’s gotten from the tech media. If you’ve lusted after this phone, please don’t be frightened away by the bad publicity. Give it a shot and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
After two months of use, I still think this is a very good phone with smooth, fast, reliable performance. The recent updates have been great. Essential continues to release consistent updates, especially to the camera app which has had some amazing improvements lately--including a portrait mode that rivals that on the iPhone and Pixel. And I have to say, as a fan of black and white photography, the mono mode camera is one of my favorite things ever. There has been one hiccup--once in a while it freezes and I have to do a hard reset. It's not a big deal and hasn't happened too often, and thankfully the phone powers up fast, but I do hope they sort this issue out soon. Sprint has been very slow to release the latest build, so perhaps it will be handled in that update. Plus, Oreo looks to be coming in the relatively near future!
UPDATE 11/4/17 - After a month of use, I can comfortably say this is a fantastic device and Essential continues to support it with bi-monthly updates. The latest update fixed some touch issues that some people were having (I didn't) and introduced a few gestures to the fingerprint sensor, like those on the Pixel phone. There is now a case available on Amazon...I bought it and it's not too bad. Personally, I like going without the case because the phone is really easy to grip. I've heard that soon Essential will be adding a "portrait mode" to the camera app, which is exciting, and of course, Oreo is supposed to be on its way before long too. I have been using the camera a lot and I feel they are getting close to just right under low light conditions. In normal lighting, there's no problem at all. And the mono mode black and white camera takes some of the best photos I have ever taken on a phone. The verdict remains the same...only with some increased vehemence. If you're a fan of stock android, fast smooth performance, and beautifully designed devices, there shouldn't be much of a debate. Buy this phone!
[See Oct 18 update including Pixel 2 comparison]
I was not expecting to love the Essential Phone. “Kudos to Essential for what they are trying to achieve, but no way they can compete with the incumbents” … Or so I thought!
Press reviews got me intrigued enough to give it a try (after checking the return policy).
I have now been using the Essential Phone as my primary device for 3 days and I LOVE IT. I’ll update this review as things progress.
Other reviews are doing a great job going into many aspects so I’ll just add my perspective as a user (see the kind of user I am at the bottom).
DESIGN is a WINNER
( + ) Beautiful (look at it)
( + ) Simple/ergonomic (stock Android + no bloatware)
( + ) Different (people ask me about it) yet not quirky
It JUST WORKS
( + ) A LOT of screen in a truly one-handed form factor,
( + ) Touch input works great
( + ) Great call quality,
( + ) Fast camera,
( + ) All day battery,
( + ) Fast and accurate fingerprint sensor (I tried many & they aren’t all the same, this one is the real deal)
( + ) “Accidental drop” resilient (accidentally tested already) meaning I don’t need a case (at long last a beautiful phone that doesn’t need a case)
The PRICE is RIGHT (~$300 below similarly spec’d premium phones). At $500, it is a great value (but still an expensive phone — premium materials etc.)!
The “flaws” I don’t care much about (I call them SMART TRADE-OFFS)
( + / — ) Camera/Picture quality (good enough for me),
( + / — ) Not for VR (still a “niche” use case),
( + / — ) Not waterproof (I don’t swim with my phone),
( + / — ) No headphone jack (I love USB-C),
( + / — ) Weak built-in speaker (I use a headset or an actual high quality speaker when I need good/loud sound),
( + / — ) Unclear whether front facing camera will enable advanced face recognition use cases (the future is coming but I live in the present)
The things I wish it did better (or “Why not a 5 star rating”)
( — ) I’d like the screen to be brighter / colors to be more vivid. Those with the current generation of iPhones won’t necessarily mind, but for folks used to premium (AM)OLED phones (e.g. Samsung, Google Pixel, LG, etc.), it might very well be a deal breaker.
( — ) I’d like the camera app to be better, starting with “manual” mode (like what Motorola does). I am confident Andy’s team will improve the camera app though, they already have in the past month as per the press.
This phone is right for me, but is it right for you? The kind of user I am
- I live in the cloud. I love Google services (and Amazon’s too!). I appreciate Apple’s “less is more” design principles and the superb quality and durability of their products, but I don’t like that it is often “their way or no way”.
- I use my phone a lot, mostly as a work tool (+ videos, and a few games for my kids).
- I have 121 apps installed (for those who care to know, I included my home screen with the 30 or so that I use daily).
- I am on T-Mobile.
- I am “cheap” (or to put it nicely: “savvy”). I don’t like to pay for the brand premium or the fanciness I don’t need. I am fine paying for quality or “fair trade / eco friendliness”, but I have found that “high quality on the basics” and “inexpensive” actually align
* Oct 18 update: 50 days in, I am sticking with the Essential Phone. But I confirm my "not for everyone" comment. I think for most people, the Pixel 2 is a better choice (congrats team Google!) *
Day 50: new pros and new cons
(+) It still looks like new despite my having used it without a case. That is very impressive (I tend to bend my phones, or scratch them, or both)!
(+) The charger Andy's team included is AMAZING (it must have been pricey). I can easily charge my laptop with it (USB C)
(-) The camera is starting to bother me. I downloaded another camera app...
(-) The power button below the volume button seems suboptimal to me
(-) That phone is slippery... I haven't found an elegant solution (I really dont want to add a skin or a case, but I'll keep looking (ideas?)
Comparison with Pixel 2
If you want stock Android, and a phone that just works, the default choice is Google's Pixel. So I got the Pixel 2 (disclosure: I know and admire the team who built it)
*Where PH1 wins*
- It has a much bigger screen despite being slightly smaller than the Pixel 2, which means a better browsing experience, more apps on the home screen. You just see more (see the pictures).
- PH1 seems more durable to me. Pixel 2's coating looks like a great improvement over last year's metallic paint (that tended to chip off quickly), but I don't think it will beat ceramic and titanium.
* Where Pixel 2 wins *
- Pixel's camera is AWESOME. Even I became an ok photographer. It is incredibly fast, and the pictures turn out super sharp, with great colors, etc. The movies are amazing as well.
- much better speaker (and there are 2 of them)
- UI significantly more responsive
- Water proof
- Squeezable assistant is cute and may create a warm emotional bond... we shall see
*One more thing*
I now have the 360 degree camera and I must say I really like it
Who cares it doesn't have an sd card slot, an aux input for audio, or amoled display. This actually looks very good in the sun. Fact it's LCD is ok.
So why 3 stars? Bugs...freaking bugs! How else do you explain after four days of use pretty consistent freezing and lack of touch recognition with very light use? My phone has updated twice since it arrived from amazon last Saturday, Oct. 28. Nothing has improved. I was texting today...texting..and my phone froze for a good 3 seconds while I tried to text a response back. Really? I'm not playing games on this. I'm texting, surfing the web, using gps, pretty much "essential" stuff, right?
Imagine this phone in a year, or two years, with these issues. I visited the android forums to find out why. Turns out these are hit and miss issues and certainly they exist for many buyers. I'm giving this a week before sending it back and buying a pixel 2. I like underdogs. I support start ups. This phone, though, needs to be fixed soon or I'm sending it back. Even at 500...I can't recall the last time I,spent this much and has similar issues. Essential, fix this phone! I want to support you.
Most recent customer reviews
Decent camera updates
Bad call quality
Not enough...Read more