Essential, the company set up by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, has unveiled the Essential Phone.
This Android-powered smartphone is going after the major flagships. It has a high-end price tag with top-of-the-line specs and features, such as an edge-to-edge display, which goes all the way to the the top of the phone and wraps around the front-facing selfie camera. Essential Phone is launching in the US on Sprint to start, but it's packed with radios that should make it work on all major carriers.
Here's everything you need to know about the device.
Essential Phone: Design
- Dimensions: 141.5mm x 71.1mm x 7.8mm
- 185g weight
- Edge-to-edge display
- Made of titanium and ceramic materials
- No headphone jack or water resistance
- Has a modular system that includes two attachments
The Essential Phone certainly stands out, thanks to its edge-to-edge display that surrounds the front-facing camera and extends virtually all the way to the bottom, leaving a small bezel. The bezel isn't there to house a home button/fingerprint sensor, though, as that can be found on the rear where your fingers will naturally lie. The phone itself is made of titanium with a ceramic back for added protection.
It will be available in four colours: Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White, and Ocean Depths. The Essential Phone works with a modular system as well, which lets you attach accessories. At launch, there are only two mods available: a 360-degree camera and a wireless charging dock. Apart from that, there's a few notable omissions, like that the phone doesn't offer a 3.5mm jack or water resistance.
Essential Phone: Hardware
- 5.7-inch (2560x1312) display
- Dual 13-megapixel camera with black-and-white secondary sensor
- 8-megapixel selfie camera, capable of 4K video at 30pfs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
- 3040mAh non-removable battery with fast charging
- USB-C for charging and headphone connection
The Essential Phone features a 5.7-inch (2560x1312) display, with a 505ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Also around the outside of the device, you'll see a dual 13-megapixel camera with a f/1.85 lens and laser autofocus and a 8-megapixel selfie camera with a f/2.20 lens. Particular attention has been paid to the cameras: the dual-lens setup includes a black-and-white secondary sensor.
That allows it to take in more light than a regular colour lens. Rather than be used for extra zoom, the second lens should provide better low-light shots. Both the rear- and front-facing cameras are capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps, as well. There's a USB-C charger, but no traditional headphone jack, which may not please everyone, but the phone will ship with a headphone dongle in the box.
Inside, there is a 10nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.45GHz octa-core Kryo 280 CPU) and Adren 540 GPU. It comes with 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 3040mAh non-removable battery with fast charging, and support for Wi-Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, LTE, GPS, and GLONASS. But nice hardware is easy to find on any phone, so the company also built an ecosystem of accessories.
Essential will ship a 360-degree camera that can attach to the top of the phone. The company will also offer a charging dock. You can attach either via the magnetic metal pogo pins at the top of the rear panel, although you can still use the USB-C port on the bottom to wire your phone to mains power. The USB-C port is also where you'll have to connect some headphones, of course.
Essential Phone: Software
- Operating system: Android (version unknown)
- May or may not come with bloatware/carrier apps
We know that Essential phone does run Android, but the version is unknown at this time. Also, Andy Rubin said at the Code conference that he’s trying to ship the phone without any carrier apps installed when it launches. But he didn't completely commit to that, which isn't suprising, considering it’s hard for any Android manufacturer to get their phone in US stores without carrier apps.
Essential Phone: Price
- Starting price: $699
The Essential Phone will only be available in the US at launch. It costs $699 for the phone, or $749 with the 360-degree camera included. There's no word yet on pricing for the UK or Europe.
Essential Phone: Release date
- Available to pre-order now in the US
- Supposed to launch in the US by June 2017
- Essential missed its target launch date in the US
- Essential is already planning an international launch
You can pre-order the Essential Phone now. USA Today claimed that the phone has a launch partner in the US: Sprint. But this isn't “exclusive”, because the Essential Phone has enough radios to work across multiple networks. Plus, Essential will sell the phone unlocked in the US. There's no word yet on a specific release date in the US, let alone in the UK or Europe.
The Essential Phone was supposed to release in June in the US, but it missed that date, obviously, and the company has stayed quiet since then. Nevertheless, the Financial Times claimed Essential executives are already planning to release the upcoming phone internationally in Europe and Japan. They are in talks with UK carriers, including EE, and are now negotiating a launch date.