Essential Phone Review: The Impossible Challenge – SlashGear

The initial Essential Phone was a good device, and all that a initial call of Android phone enthusiasts could have wanted. But by a time a Essential association and a PH-1 existed, a ubiquitous open had altered over their initial any-new-Android frenzy. Now we’re in an epoch where a many fad-friendly phone is king, and usually aristocrat for a half-cycle. Essential’s initial phone recover is an try to check all a boxes for creation yet sojourn bare-bones during a same time. Therein lies a Essential struggle.

Our initial examination of this device was cut brief by what we viewed as not-quite-ready software. The software, generally a camera software, usually wasn’t during a place where we’d call it complete: it was transparent a phone was still a outrageous work in progress. Several months later, though, and with many updates underneath a Essential Phone’s belt, we’re prepared to pass judgement.

In that time, Essential hasn’t altered a whole lot as a company. They’re still flattering puzzling about what their large design skeleton are, and a Essential Phone PH-1 still seems to be in a midst of “we’re not utterly there yet” program updates. As such, we’re rolling with what we’ve got!


There’s a nick here, and it contains a camera. This small space interrupts a upsurge of a rectangle that creates adult many of a rest of a front of a phone. But in a demeanour identical to that of a stylistic choice of a nick in a iPhone X, a Essential Phone is finished to demeanour unique.

The arrangement is a 5.71-inch LTPS IPS LCD with a significantly saturated 84.9% screen-to-body ratio. It’s right on-part with other top-tier smartphones of a past year for pixel firmness during 1312 x 2560 pixels (504 PPI), and it’s lonesome with a mirror of Gorilla Glass 5.

I have no complaints about a arrangement itself. It does a ideal pursuit of covering a space for that it was intended. Colors are usually as full as a Galaxy S8 or an LG G6 – maybe even better. The arrangement has no stand-out issues for me, save a one that has some-more to do with all outward a display.


The front and a behind of a Essential Phone PH-1 are reinforced glass*, and a sides are mostly steel with a bit of plastic. The feel of this phone is certainly premium. If it weren’t so intensely slippery, I’d feel a lot improved about withdrawal it lay on any aspect some-more than a few inches off a ground.

My usually censure about a hardware (aside from a bezels, etc, that I’ll get to in a moment,) is that I’m fearful that we competence mangle it. And so it was and so it shall be with any device finished with mostly potion and no built-in non-glass aspect on that one competence set it.*

*UPDATE: Upon closer inspection, a behind of this phone is indeed ceramic. Which means unequivocally small for a ways I’ve judged it above.

Lack of Bezel

The biggest emanate I’ve had with this device is in a miss of bezel. Over time I’ve finished my best to get used to a fact that my fingers are covering partial of a screen, yet it’s still formidable to handle. My bent is to reason whatever phone we have in a approach that allows me to see a whole display, and that’s not unequivocally picturesque with this device.

I know some users will find a miss of bezel to be a vital prominence of this device. They’ll marvel over how overwhelming it is to reason what’s radically a shade adult front with hardly a pointer of what’s powering it subsequent and to a bottom. But a newness of carrying such a device is mislaid on me. As such, I’ve put “nearly bezel-less front” in both a pros and cons columns for this review.


This phone’s been described as a vacant line-up – simple, bare, down to a unequivocally basics. That is truly is, entrance with fewer Android apps than I’ve ever seen on a smartphone before – usually those compulsory by Google, and a tradition camera app. This is a ideal program setup for a hardcore Android fan in a year 2013.

While a lot of smartphones now enclose their possess apps, and infrequently a apps of their mobile carrier, we still cite this. For a impassioned “it’s yours now, download what we want” opinion we get from this phone, we rate it highly. This is unequivocally most a phone finished for people who know what they’re doing with a smartphone.

Software updates have been comparatively swift. On Jan 11th, 2018, when I’m essay this paragraph, a PH-1’s final confidence refurbish was Jan 5th, and it’s using Android 7.1.1 Nougat. A Beta build for Android Oreo is accessible during this time as well, with a guarantee of a finalized Oreo build entrance soon.


The camera program now is improved than it was behind when it was initial released, yet still not scarcely as good as a hardware competence imply. If we’re outward and it’s balmy out and we’re holding photos in halcyon light, photos are great. Once we get indoors and lighting gets a small bit dimmer, it’s distant some-more formidable to snap a decent photo.

There’s some-more than one camera on a back, yet it would seem that twin cameras on their possess don’t automatically yield good formula in low lighting. The good thing about this span of cameras is that one is monotone, that means we’re means to snap local black and white photos – that demeanour flattering decent.

Above you’ll see some monotone photos snapped by a PH-1, some in a light, some in less-than-perfect lighting. Below you’ll see a few photos of vehicles in motion. If we get a concentration indicate scold and lighting is ideal, we get a sincerely decent shot. Catching a child in suit in a somewhat low room usually isn’t happening.

Camera peculiarity is a large understanding for me – and for a whole lot of other people in a complicated media-heavy society. This, some-more than anything else, is a vital reason because this phone isn’t rated aloft than a review’s simple measure today. A earnest pointer for a destiny for those that already possess a phone: Software Helps. Have a look during a Essential Phone initial impressions feature to see some examples of improved print peculiarity with a Google Camera App (originally meant for a Pixel.)

Also note that this device has a 3D camera accessory, yet it’s not partial of a simple package. As such, we won’t be including it with this initial review. Stay tuned for add-ons, all related from this review, in a future.


Battery life is not impacted significantly by a arrangement – not any some-more than any other device with identical specs. This phone has a 3,040mAh battery capacity, and has Qualcomm QuickCharge in a mix. Battery life on this device is right around 20 hours, full to empty. That’s when I’ve had mobile information running, streaming song while in a car, reading emails, and a occasional Twitter check.


In many ways, a initial Essential Phone seems designed roughly wholly to prove a singular difficulty of user: someone who wants a arrangement to cover scarcely a whole front of their phone. In that respect, a PH-1’s meagre steel edge and potion front and ceramic behind deliver, despite with ergonomic downsides we competence not comprehend until we have it in a hand. The vanilla Android precisionist will find program – or a deficiency – here to greatfully them too, yet a camera’s intermediate opening stays a legitimate frustration.

I don’t consider it’s astray to advise that Essential’s $699 launch cost was simply too high. For that, a Essential Phone should have had a possess program ecosystem – if usually discretionary – and a some-more tangible hardware appendage roadmap. As it stands, a hardware of a phone itself is adult to snuff, yet a stream $499 cost reflects usually what you’re getting, and what you’re risking, from a startup, even one with large names behind it. If Essential can follow by with a desirous plans, from what a Essential Phone offers I’m tentatively eager about what comes next.

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