Essential Ph1 is not just another anonymous startup, who promise to reinvent the smartphone. The man in the captain’s chair is Andy Rubin. He is one of the creators of the Sidekick, basically a Blackberry for young people that became an underground hit in the mid aughts.
And most importantly, he co founded a company called Android Incorporated, which wanted to write software for digital cameras, but instead ended up being bought by Google and then blowing up the smartphone world.
Today, about four out of five smartphones run Android and the operating system is on over two billion devices worldwide. Meanwhile, BlackBerry, Nokia and Microsoft, the dominant forces in mobile when Android was launched, those are not the dominant forces any more.
So it makes sense that we’re all excited by the launch of the Essential phone. A new handheld that promises a blend of thoughtful craftsmanship and mindful software. Instead of glass and aluminium, the Essential phone will be made of ceramic and a new injection molded titanium that should make it more resistant to drops.
It’ll feature a near bezel-less design that maximizes screen real estate in a small chassis. The published dimensions put it somewhere between the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7, each of which is quite easy to handle one-handed.
It’ll come compatible with snap-on magnetic accessories too. To start with, a power dock and a 360 Degree camera that looks positively tiny compared to what’s out there right now. When you don’t need a fishbowl photograph, the on board cameras seem plenty capable, judging by the spec sheet.
And that same sheet also bears most of the touchstones of a terrific 2017 smartphone. To flush out the Essential ecosystem, alongside the phone launch comes a new virtual assistant for the living room. It’s trying to come across as less invasive than Alexa and Google Home by keeping more of its data local and sending less of it to the Cloud.
But as I read through all the breathless praise surrounding the announcement, it strikes me that, not only have we heard a lot of these promises before, but we have seen a lot of these features before too. Xiaomi brought us both minimal bezels and a ceramic body in the mean mix without the weird widow’s peak cutout that the Essential phone needs for its front-facing camera.
Motorola’s Moto Z, let’s you snap on everything from battery packs to speaker docks to crazy cameras using a similar magnetic system. Google’s Pixel phones bring streamlined and super responsive Android builds without bloat wear or exaggerated branding.
And speaking of the Google Pixel, remember how it was disappointing a bit by its lack of water resistance given its high price point? Well, Essential Ph1 doesn’t get a pass here either. It’s expensive and it’s not water resistant.
And while the lack of a headphone jack does not bother me much, as I am good with Wireless headphones, it does seem an odd compromise on a device plainly big enough to include one. See, The HTC U Ultra and HTC U11. Look, this is in no way a review. I haven’t even touched the product yet.
In fact, I really want Essential Ph1 to succeed. That will be obvious to ya if you read me for a while. You know how much I appreciate both novelty and meaningful innovation both of which are sorely needed in today’s mobile space. Rubin’s mission statement seems to acknowledge that in a way that almost reads like he’s seeking absolution.
He wants to use Essential Ph1 to cure the headaches, he says platforms like Android have caused. The built-in obsolescence of phones, the UI problems, the closed ecosystems. But I’m not convinced most people want to be cured of their consumerism, their annual trips to the phone store for the shiny new thing. Which I don’t.
|Network Support||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE|
|SIM Type||Dual Nano SIM Cards (Dual Stand-by)|
|Display||LTPS IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
5.71 inches (~84.9% screen-to-body ratio)
1312 x 2560 pixels (~504 ppi pixel density)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Protection
|Chipset||Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835|
|Processor||Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)|
|RAM||4 GB RAM|
|Memory||128 GB Internal
No microSD Card Slot
|Camera||Primary: Dual 13 MP, f/1.9, phase detection & laser autofocus, LED flash
Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama
Secondary: 8 MP, f/2.2, 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Ion 3040 mAh battery|
|Sensors||Fingerprint (rear-mounted), Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|Operating System||Android OS, v7.1 (Nougat)|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, EDR, LE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
USB Type-C 1.0 Reversible connector
No FM Radio
|Special Features||– Photo viewer/editor
– Document viewer
– No Java Support
– Snap-on accessories (optional)
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– Fast battery charging
– Titanium & Ceramic Build
Essential Phone is expected to be released in Early July of 2017. Price of this phone is $699 USD, which means India it will be around 45K – 46K INR.
While the talent in Essential Phone’s roster is enormous, I think we all need to take a cue from that famous financial aphorism: “past performance is not indicative of future results.” so, while we should all be eager to see what it can do, there’s a ways to go before we’ll know whether it lives up to its aspirational name.
To see the Essential phone review when it does come out, make sure to visit our Website Daily, you can turn on notifications to get notified, whenever we publish a new article. and let me know what you think about Essential Phone in the comments below.
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