Essential Phone hands-on18
Yesterday Essential brought its first officially releasedhardware to New York City for a “first look” event. About two years in themaking, the Essential phone and 360-degree camera accessory were launched onlya few days ago. A labor of love, and sometimes turmoil, Android creator AndyRubin has finally brought us his vision, and we couldn’t wait to see it upclose. Was it a thing of beauty? Or is it an awkward nightmare? Let’s take alook and see.
Galaxy S8. Instead,the thicker, more squared – yet still slightly rounded – edges give the phone agrip reminiscent of the first click-wheel era iPods. The 5.7-inch displayitself shows great color and clarity, producing a resolution of 1312 x 2560pixels and 504 ppi.
After effects are also kept to a minimum, allowing the user onlythe ability to stabilize, but not trim videos, and nothing else, for now. Photoshave the option to crop, or add effects, but otherwise, editing options arelimited there as well. The camera is capable of capturing RAW photos though,and while the user cannot currently access these, the option to do so hasn’tbeen ruled out for future updates either.
The selfie camera, despite its diminutive physical size,packs some decent specs as well. 8-megapixel resolution, f/2.2 aperture, andvideo recording in up to 4K quality rounds out the front-facer’s feature list.
UI, Performance, and Connectivity
Running on a Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB of RAM, the Essentialphone comes with 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage; no corners were cut here, so weexpect top-tier performance. Paired with an essentially stock Androidexperience, the device showed snappiness and prompt responses to our everytouch and direction. The essentials of an Android phone were the focal pointfor this device – as it relates to both software and hardware – and deliveringon this helps this phone float easily through tasks.
Essential’s vision for its products is the same as the biggesthardware players in the game: get as many devices as possible into people’slives. Yes, Essential is aiming to live the creed of IoT with its product line,as evidenced by upcoming devices like the Essential Home. This is why it wasimportant to the company to launch not just their phone, but a high-functioningperipheral device simultaneously; enter the 360-degree camera.
Recording video or taking photos in 360 is easy andintuitive. 360 photos work much in the same way as Motorola’s own 360-degree cameraMoto Mod, where scrolling on the phones screen moves the viewfinder. Videocapture is unique, though, as neither scrolling nor moving the cameraphysically is necessary to capture specific areas of your surroundings.Instead, simply hit record and stay still. When recording is finished, the useris able to open the video in the gallery, and scroll around inside of the videoto see the various parts of ones’ surroundings captured within the 360-degreevideo.
Essential’s first pieces of hardware are well-thought out,and soundly executed. While many will still give the Galaxy S8 the crown ofbest-looking bezel-less design, the Essential phone offers an interesting takeon the concept; it serves its purpose well and certainly will have its ownfans. Taking care to tweak the size of important components like the camera’sand the display, gave the team at Essential more room for the things thatmatter – like international compatibility, a unique and beautiful screen, andpremium materials – inside and out. Selling for $699.99 or $749.99 with the 360camera accessory, the Essential phone aims to compete with the best out there.The 360 camera also has some high aspirations, innovative features, and a competitiveprice tag. $199.99 gets you the device as a standalone accessory, but of coursethe bundled deal with the phone takes that tag down to $50. The team behindthese devices seems not to have cut any corners, and we’re excited to see how anew contender with deep roots in the industry fairs in our testing and in themarket.