The Essential phone is a ideal phone for Silicon Valley

The marketplace for a flagship smartphone in 2017 is roughly wholly dominated by Apple and Samsung. Apple has sole over 1 billion iPhones over a final decade, and Samsung’s inclination are the many popular in a world, with designs that are starting to approach Apple’s quality. And yet, other than rumblings from Google, a rest of a smartphone marketplace has been divvied adult between companies perplexing to make a best, cheapest phones they can. Unlike many other pretender smartphone manufactures, Essential thinks a newest device can go toe-to-toe with these heavyweights.

Earlier this summer, a startup launched by Andy Rubin, a creator of a Android handling system, denounced his prophesy for a complicated smartphone. It’s one that focuses heavily on pattern and modularity.

Quartz spent a final few weeks with a Essential phone, to get an bargain of what vital with it is like, and either it’s opposite adequate to make Apple or Samsung acolytes desert their paths and think different. here’s what we found:

What’s good

It’s unequivocally pretty. In a universe of indiscernible black rectangles, a Essential phone somehow manages to (slightly) mount out. Aesthetically, it’s arrange of like a platonic ideal of a smartphone: There’s a sharp, high-resolution shade that wraps around roughly a entirety of a front of a device; discriminating strips of titanium cover a sides; and has a glossy ceramic behind that can simply double as a mirror. Every aspect of a pattern feels considered, including a fabric-wrapped cables that boat with a phone.

It’s adaptable. On a behind of a phone are dual captivating dots that can bond to a array of outmost gadgets that Essential is developing. Right now, a usually one that’s rolled out so distant is a 360° camera, that costs $50. It’s one of a smallest and easiest-to-use cameras of a ilk on a market; we usually snap it onto a behind of a phone, and start recording in 360° video.

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With a snap-on 360-degree camera. (Essential)

It’s pristine Android. Essential is a brainchild of Rubin, a strange creator of Android, that was acquired by Google in 2005. There’s no junk or bloatware on this phone, usually a batch handling complement as Google builds it.

Decent battery life. The phone’s battery could final for a improved partial of a workday with no problem. Even when we left it on, unplugged, from Friday night to Monday morning, a battery life reason adult impressively, dropping from 95% to 44%.

What’s not so good

It’s complicated and boxy. Although a pattern of a phone looks good from a distance, it’s not so good when indeed regulating it. The phone weighs about 0.41 lbs—roughly 0.1 lbs heavier than an iPhone 7—and a corners make a device comparatively clunky and worried to reason in a palm or in a pocket, generally when compared to a some-more dull pattern proceed that companies like Apple and Samsung have taken in new years. Also a ceramic behind is a fingerprint magnet that needs to be wiped off after each use to say a sheen.

The camera is usually fine. The 13-megapixel back-facing camera takes pointy and clear photos, though a phone is blank many of a functions that a competitors have, including a mural mode, breathtaking shots, or time-lapses.

Both a newest iPhones and Samsungs have dual cameras on a behind that concede them to understand abyss to emanate photos that seem as if they were shot on a veteran camera with a shoal abyss of field. The Essential also has dual cameras, but, curiously, one is usually for sharpened monochrome photos. Perhaps in a after program recover Essential could move a iPhone’s killer underline of 2016 to a phone. The 8-megapixel front-facing camera, however, takes some flattering decent selfies, and is crook than a one on a new iPhone 8.

The fingerprint scanner isn’t reliable. It didn’t commend my fingerprint some-more than half of a times we attempted to use it, and even when it did, it was slower during unlocking my phone than many of a other scanners I’ve used this year.

Many apps don’t make use of a full screen. The phone has a shining shade that is, most like Apple’s forthcoming iPhone X, hampered by a “notch” during a top. Many apps use a area around a front camera as a standing bar area, or letterbox their app around a area, withdrawal an ungainly black area unresolved off a screen. (Check out a prolonged black rectangle unresolved off a left side of a screenshot below, and afterwards review it to how a home shade looks above.)

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The nick problem. (Screenshot)

It’s costly for what it is. The phone does not have many of a facilities a foe touts. There are a shortcomings of a camera that we already mentioned. It also is not as water-resistant as an iPhone or a Galaxy S8, nor does it have an OLED HD display, or wireless charging. And a phone costs $700; if you’re after a no-frills Android, cruise a the OnePlus 5, that has identical facilities to a Essential phone, though usually costs $479.

Should we get one?

If, during any given moment, we know either it’s quicker to take your Model S P100D on a 101 or 280 to get from your assembly on Sand Hill Road to a Blue Bottle in SOMA, this is a phone for you. If nothing of those difference meant anything to you, get an iPhone or a Samsung.

The Essential phone is like so many things in Silicon Valley in 2017. It’s opposite for a consequence of it, and costly adequate that it’s still exclusive. It’s like owning a Tesla or like Apple’s new campus: A pleasing work of art that’s eventually usually an dull standing symbol. At $700, a Essential phone doesn’t offer anything that a Samsung Galaxy S8 or an iPhone 8 doesn’t offer for roughly a same price, other than a improved screen-to-phone ratio, and overall, it offers reduction than a competitors.

Silicon Valley loves to interrupt things, and a smartphone attention is developed for disruption—every black rectangle is about as good as each other one, and they’re all somewhat improved than a ones that were expelled a year before—but this unequivocally feels like a excellence of ideas that have expected been banging around in Rubin and his designers’ heads for a few years, rather than a step-change in a mobile industry.


Read this next: There is positively no reason to get vehement about a new smartphone

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