Android and Danger co-founder Andy Rubin found a new company Essential and unveiled a new smartphone that will definitely go head-to-head with flagship devices from Samsung, Apple and the rest.
The new Essential PH-1 or simply referred by many as the Essential Phone is the company’s first device and comes with a unique design that may set the standards of the next generation of smartphone designs.
The device includes an edge-to-edge “Full Display” with rounded corners, comparing it with recent devices such as the Xiaomi Mi Mix, Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6, the Essential Phone’s display will easily blend in the mix. But the similarities on the front with other flagship devices ends abruptly there as the phone has a unique and stylized placement of the Selfie camera which haven’t been tried by anyone before that cuts from the top display into the middle of the Notification area.
The display is an LTPS LCD and has a 5.71-inch edge-to-edge screen with an aspect ratio of 19:10 and has a promising 500nits of brightness. The display is supposed to have a 2K resolution if not because of the front camera module which brought down the resolution into just 2560 x 1312. There’s no Home button on the front like most of the latest flagship devices available and the UI relies on its on-screen navigation bar.
Mobile Photography enthusiasts should enjoy with the new PH-1 as it comes with a dual camera module 13 Megapixel sensors with one being an RGB and one in Monochrome, The RGB sensor comes with an f/1.85 aperture lens that pairs with the monochrome sensor for telephoto and bokeh effects. With its 13 Megapixel monochrome sensor, the PH-1 takes true monochrome photos which results to a much richer image which doesn’t need any software post processing to make a monochrome image. The main camera module also includes a hybrid Laser and Phase Detection Autofocus and LED flash.
The unique front facing camera comes with an 8 Megapixel sensor and comes with an f/2.2 aperture but doesn’t come with autofocus and instead relies on its fixed focus lens.
Both the main cameras and its front Selfie camera can take 4K videos at 30fps, 60fps for 1080p videos and can take slow-mo videos at 120fps in 720p video resolution.
Besides the display and the camera on the front, another unique feature on the PH-1 is the two magnetic pins next to the camera module where accessories could easily snap onto the handset. One of the first accessories designed for the PH-1 is a 360 camera that comes with two 12 Megapixel sensors behind fisheye lenses with 4 built-in mics for an immersive video recording. Another would be a dedicated Essential Phone Dock which feature a magnetic connector to charge the phone.
The Essential PH-1 is constructed with titanium frame and unlike all other devices that are now built in metal (aluminum) frames, the PH-1 is a lot tougher and is not going to scratch or get bent anytime soon in case one would drop it.
Protecting the display is a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 while the back of the handset is made from ceramic which is shiny with a mirror like finish which may not please everybody but this gives the handset one of its premium feel.
With a stellar and premium design, display and cameras, the innards also took the best technologies there is for a flagship premium device. The handset is powered by none other than a Snapdragon 835 and is coupled to 4GB of RAM and comes with 128GB of onboard storage. It misses a microSD card slot though but with 128GB of storage, it should be more than enough for a wide collection of apps and multimedia contents.
Connectivity-wise, the Essential PH-1 supports LTE connectivity and supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS + A-GPS and GLONASS and USB-C connector. One thing to note though and we don’t know yet if this is significant up to this point is that it doesn’t come with a 3.5mm headphone jack which it may have to rely on its USB-C port or perhaps, make use of its magnetic connectors on the back or better yet go and promote wireless headsets as the future of mobile devices.
Other essentials includes a fingerprint reader mounted on the back and a built-in 3040 mAh battery. The hardware runs on Android 7.1 (Nougat) with minor tweaks built for the unique features of the phone.
The new Essential PH-1 is priced at $700 but early adopter may get the 360 camera bundled in for $750. As for the availability, Essential haven’t finalize the release date of the handset but rumors suggest that it might be sometime towards the end of June. The company is also in talks with US carriers to put the device on their smartphone contracts.