Business Today

Bare Essential

At first glance, the Essential Phone, launched by the mastermind behind Android, does not impress.
twitter-logoNidhi Singal | Print Edition: July 2, 2017
Bare Essential

ANDY RUBIN, the creator of Android, left Google a couple of years ago to start his own technology company called Essential. And now he has launched the first smartphone from the Essential stable - the PH-1 Phone.

Expectations are bound to be sky high since Android is unarguably the most popular mobile operating system. But Rubin is playing it rather simple. Unlike other manufacturers that ensure the logo and brand name are conspicuous, there is marked simplicity and lack of branding on this phone.

Essential's PH-1 Phone has been crafted from a combination of titanium and ceramic, with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 cover glass, to make it robust enough to survive dents, scratches, bends and even falls.

It boasts futuristic aesthetics with an almost edge-to-edge 5.71-inch display with only a thin bezel at the bottom. There aren't many hardware buttons - only the volume keys and power button are housed on the metal edge on the side. It has on board a 10-finger multi-touch sensor with palm and water error rejection. There is no traditional 3.5-mm headphone jack, but a USB Type-C is present.

The Essential phone will be available in four colours - black moon, stellar grey, pure white and ocean depth - all of which look striking. There is a 13-MP dual RGB camera at the rear and an 8-MP front camera.

Like LG and Motorola, Essential seems to be adopting a modular approach. The phone has a magnetic connector at the back for hooking up accessories. Even though it houses the world's thinnest dual camera system, the Essential phone has designed a compact 360 degree camera accessory that snaps to the magnetic connector. That apart, there is an Essential Phone Dock that supports quick wireless charging.

Essential has not developed a new operating system. Instead, the company has gone ahead with Android Nougat minus any customisation. The phone offers vanilla Android features with a set of Google services. There is no bloatware to hinder user experience. Essential Phone has top-of-the-line specifications - it is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 System on Chip (SOC); the octa-core processor is clocked at 2.45 GHZ + 1.9 GHZ paired with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage.

Despite its no-frills approach, the Essential Phone has quite a grand price tag. At $699, in the US market, the phone is definitely not in the affordable category. It competes against Apple's iPhone 7 and Google's Pixel series.


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