Andy Rubin, co-founder of Danger and Android, has a new company – Essential. Today, it introduced the PH-1, though we have a feeling most people will call it just the Essential phone.
It has a unique screen and a unique camera setup, it also flaunts a bit of modularity. The screen is an edge-to-edge Full Display with rounded corners, not unsimilar to the Xiaomi Mi Mix. But look at the selfie camera – it cuts into the middle of the notification area!
The screen has a 19:10 aspect ratio – wider than 16:9, but not as wide as the LG G6 or Galaxy S8. It is an LTPS LCD measuring 5.71 in diagonal and promising 500nits of brightness (with better than 1,000:1 contrast ratio). The resolution is a touch under QHD, 1,312×2,560px.
The Essential phone (PH-1) The 360 camera addon
The camera on the back uses a combo of of 13MP sensors – one RGB, one monochrome. The color sensor is behind a bright f/1.85 lens and with help from the mono sensor, it offers telephoto, bokeh and 13MP true monochrome modes. Laser and phase detect autofocus is available.
Both the main camera and the selfie cam can record 4K @ 30fps video, 1080p @ 60fps and 720p @ 120fps. Speaking of, the front camera has an 8MP sensor (16:9) with an f/2.2 aperture for its hyperfocal lens (i.e. fixed focus).
But notice the two pins to the right of the camera – this is where accessories snap on. The first is a 360 camera that features dual 12MP sensors behind fisheye lenses (210) and 4 mics for immersive video (3,840 x 1,920px @ 30fps). Theres also the Essential Phone Dock, which features a magnetic connector and can charge the phone. Other accessories will be launched in the future.
The Essential phone is built around a titanium frame, which is tougher than aluminum and will not scratch or bend when you drop the phone. The back is ceramic, the front is Gorilla Glass 5. Two color options will be available at first – Black Moon and Pure White – with two more joining them later on, Stellar Grey and Ocean Depths.
We guess now we can talk about the rest of the hardware. The phone is fairly compact at 71.1mm wide, but rather hefty at nearly 185g and features four mics of its own, plus stereo speakers (loudspeaker + earpiece).
Stellar Grey Ocean Depths Moon Black Pure White
Its powered by Snapdragon 835 (with 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage, no microSD slot). It will run Android, naturally, but it has been retouched by one of the OSs original creators. The connectivity is interesting with USB-C, plus those accessory pins, but no headphone jack. Also the battery is a bit smaller than we would have liked at 3,040mAh.
Finally, the price. The Essential phone will set you back $700 (no carrier contracts) or you can pay $750 to get that 360 camera bundled in. But note that for now registrations are US-only and there isn’t even a hint of an availability date.