24 hours with the Essential Phone

Does Andy Rubin's first Android smartphone post-Google live up to expectations?

Essential Phone

Earlier this week, MobileSyrup got the chance to travel to Palo Alto, California, to visit Playground, the home of Andy Rubin’s Essential startup.

While there, we had the opportunity to talk to the man himself as well as some of the engineers that worked on the device, and tour the facility where the Essential Phone was taken from a simple idea to the final product that will start making its way to Canadian consumers in a few short weeks. We also got our hands on a near final model of the upcoming smartphone.

We’ll have more on the Playground tour in the near future. In the meantime, we wanted to share our initial thoughts on the Essential Phone.

Note that this isn’t a final review. We’ll publish that once we’ve had more time with the phone. That said, many of the thoughts written here are likely to make it into the review we publish later.

A new take on the high-end Android smartphone

Photo of Andy Rubin

One of the first things I noticed about the Essential Phone (also known as the PH-1) when I took it out of the box, was how much care and attention went into every facet of the device.

At 185g the Essential Phone feels heavier than most smartphones. Thanks to a titanium frame and ceramic back, it also feels more substantial and sturdy than competitors like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8. Essential says the PH-1 is more durable than most other consumer-facing phones — though it’s not IP67 or IP68 rated for water and dust resistance like recent Apple and Samsung devices. I didn’t attempt to put the company’s claims to the test, but at least at first blush, the Essential Phone feels built to last in a way that its competitors do not.

In a nice touch, all of the cables that come with the Essential Phone, including the 3.5mm audio to USB-C adapter — the PH-1 does not feature a headphone jack — are braided.

Once you get past the phone’s impressive build quality and actually turn the device on, you’re greeted by its most distinctive design element, a 5.71-inch 2560 x 1312 pixel resolution screen Essential has taken to calling a ‘Full Display.’

In a word, the screen is stunning. The QHD resolution of the display makes text and icons look tack sharp. It’s clear Essential tried to source the most high-quality display it could find, because the CGS / LTPS display backplane technologies that power the PH-1’s display are rare, even among other high-end smartphones.

Essential screenshot

With my preference for smaller phones like the iPhone 6, the Essential Phone felt like it was the ideal size in my hand. The almost non-existent side bezels and minimal bottom bezel help make the Essential Phone svelte and compact, which in turn helps make it much easier to use with one hand.

The one side effect of the Essential Phone’s almost completely bezel-less screen is that it features a small cut out around its front-facing camera. The camera cutout has already been the subject of much discussion, with some going so far as to call it ugly.

In my time with the device, I haven’t minded the cutout at all. However, one peculiarity of the cutout is that it changes how some apps are displayed.

With first-party Google apps like Maps, for instance, the main map screen wraps around the camera cutout. With third-party apps like Transit, meanwhile, there’s a black bar at the top of the screen that provides a cushion between the main browser window and the camera cutout.

I think I would have preferred Essential stuck with the black bar approach across all apps, if only for the sake of UI consistency. That said, in the situations where an app is able to wrap completely around the front-facing camera, the Essential Phone becomes an incredibly immersive device — and while it’s easy to be pessimistic about developers supporting the Essential Phone’s longer screen, Google recently encouraged developers to do so in a blog post.

Moving past the screen, the rest of the device looks just as captivating. It features a simple and sparse design that places an emphasis on utility and functionality.

That said, it’s not a perfect, with several small design choices diminishing the overall utility of the phone.

Bottom of Essential Phone

The most immediately disappointing one is the location of the SIM tray.

The SIM tray is located at the bottom of the phone, with a microphone port next to it. When I first went to insert my SIM into the Essential Phone, I accidentally put my SIM key into the microphone port. The location of the SIM tray also means that the Essential Phone does not have stereo speakers. Moreover, the sound that does come from the one bottom-facing speaker is thin and twangy.

I’m sure Essential had a variety of space considerations in mind when it decided to place the SIM tray along the bottom of the phone, but it would have been nice to see the company include stereo speakers, especially after deciding not to include a 3.5mm headphone jack. The one saving grace of the bottom of the phone is that, unlike with Samsung flagships, all the design elements along the bottom of the device are properly aligned.

One other disappointment is that the glossy appearance of the Moon Black colour model is very susceptible to fingerprints and other smudges, turning an otherwise attractive phone into something of a mess. Like other Gorilla Glass encased devices, the Essential Phone is also quick to pick up its share of micro-scratches.

A software work in progress

Back of Essential Phone

I can’t yet fully speak to the software experience Canadian consumers will find when the Essential Phone ships in a couple of weeks, as my review unit doesn’t have final launch software.

For what it’s worth, in a blog post the company published yesterday, Andy Rubin said Essential will support the PH-1 with software update for two years after launch, and security updates for three years after launch. That’s the same commitment Google promises with Nexus and Pixel devices. During MobileSyrup’s visit to Playground, Rubin also said the company is committed to issuing updates faster than its competition.

Due to the fact I’ve been using a phone with in-development software I also can’t speak much to the Essential’s camera system.

The camera app that came pre-installed with the Essential Phone is as basic as smartphone camera apps come in 2017, with features that have become frequent inclusions on other high-end devices absent. For example, there’s no pro mode that allows the user to adjust manual capture settings like shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation, nor is there an HDR mode that brackets multiple shots into a single exposure.

On early Friday morning, Essential issued an update that tweaked the camera app to add support for HDR and fix some of the stability issues that made it prone to crashing. Once I’ve had a chance to use the final camera app software, I’ll have more to say about the Essential Phone’s software experience.

I also can’t speak to the 360-degree camera Essential plans to ship alongside the Essential Phone since I haven’t been provided with a review unit. What I saw at the company’s office seemed impressive, however, with Essential’s 360-degree camera offering a more thoughtful user experience than similar accessories from Samsung and Motorola. We’ll have a separate article about the 360-degree camera once it’s available in Canada.

Not just for Telus subscribers

Essential Phone display

At launch, the Essential Phone is available in Canada exclusively through Telus.

In addition to selling the PH-1 for $290 on a two-year Premium Plus plan and $490 on a regular two-year plan, the carrier is selling the phone unlocked for $1,050 off-contract.

The smartphone supports all major Canadian carrier bands and frequencies, including Band 66, which is the frequency through which Freedom Mobile delivers its AWS LTE network in Ontario and British Columbia.

However, a Freedom Mobile spokesperson tells MobileSyrup that it can only guarantee that the devices it sells will function on its Band 66 network, and there it “cannot guarantee the Essential Phone’s compatibility.”

Using the Telus SIM that was provided to me by the carrier, I was able to consistently get around 60 Mbps while at MobileSyrup‘s downtown Toronto office.

MobileSyrup will have a full and in-depth review of the Essential Phone soon. Overall, however, my early experiences with the device have been very positive. The phone’s excellent build quality and its small, compact size make for a compelling package, while its screen is a sight to behold.

Update 18/08/17: Story updated with comment from Freedom Mobile.

Comments

  • Techguru86

    For a $1000 we expect top of the line performance especially when you have devices like the A5 2017 for half the price and performs almost near flagship experience and has Ip68

  • TomsDisqusted

    But will it support Project Treble? Yesterday it was reported that some Qualcomm based phones shipping now would support it.

    I’m not certain, but I think that Treble would not just make updates much easier but also allow Google to directly update the runtime on phones without involvement of the manufacturer or carrier – so if you buy an Essential and they go out of business you keep getting updates…

  • EBIGN

    For the hefty price, the design is just too rough, the chin and the front camera cut-out is way too distracting.

    • The Finder

      yeah that camera cut-out shows the company’s infancy in the hardware game. That is a terrible design choice that Andy Rubin ok’d. That’s a choice that Samsung, LG or Apple wouldn’t ever make. That is my barrier to entry. Oh yeah, and the cost lol.

    • PK

      Rumor has it the iPhone 8 is doing something similar for the top bezel except it’s much wider.

    • EBIGN

      The leaked iPhone 8 design looks more visually pleasing, there is no chin and it would look more symmetrical to the current notification bar in iOS 10/11. Essential has a massive notification bar and it looked like it is wasted space, if they lowered down the display and moved the front camera higher, I think it would compare more to high-end design from Samsung S8 and LG G6.

    • The Finder

      I agree, the leaked iPhone design with the wider cutouts are alot more visually pleasing. It integrates well into the iOS software and its easier to blend in.

    • John Lofwire

      Question of taste i find the way iphone 8 do it is way way too big and a bigger waste of time.

      I take a chin over a ugly forehead..

  • will

    No headphone jack….no go….It’s gonna get to a point that I’ll not upgrade due to the lack of it….

    • Elky64

      I was contemplating getting one until these hands-on reviews pointed out all the “essential” features missing. Every phone has a compromise in one form or another but the Essential far exceeds those that I’m willing to give up. Not to mention being a first adopter can be a tad risky if one plans on keeping phone long-term – no one does that nowadays do they lol.

      No – OIS, headphone jack, wireless charging, IP67/68, expandable storage, limited camera software functionality – to name a few.

      Except for forward facing camera don’t mind the overall looks. Ok, maybe those pogo pins on back are a slight distraction but with case most would be none the wiser.

      Then there’s the question – if they are only giving you the essentials, rather than extras, why the high $$$? Maybe the clue is in here somewhere ???????? + TELUS ????

    • will

      I agree….and I don’t know why it’s so much more expensive here than in the USA.
      I’m putting my hopes on the LG V30…I just want a good phone, with good camera, and really good audio experience (with 3.5mm jack, no dongos)

    • keithzg

      I personally can’t stand LG’s software, but am otherwise in the same boat, so I’m hoping LineageOS support for the V30 is swift and solid.

    • Elky64

      Think that’s the nature of things here in Canada, always being gouged – as well, Telus obviously tacked on a wee bit extra for themselves.

      Feel a premium price should garner premium hardware/features, and not just build materials. From what I’m seeing and reading the Essential Phone missed the boat on several fronts. I’m sure it’ll be good all the same just not great.

      Ya I’m with you on finding a decent phone with good camera (w/OIS), and expansion slot – sound not a huge priory for me though. Flat display too, thankfully most haven’t gone Sammy’s way.

    • Aleph Ruehl

      TELUS upping the price by some 150$ is even more egregious when you consider that Sprint in the US is knocking US 260$ off sticker.

    • John Lofwire

      No – OIS ( donc make pixel unable to take amazing picture ) , headphone jack ( thats i agree ) , wireless charging ( not compatible with ceramic and titanium and dont care about that until its really wireless meaning charging from more than 2 centimeter ) waterproofing (good way to have phone that overheat and oem dont cover if water damage so quite useless ) expandable storage ( depend thats a question of need at 128 gb i would be fine.)

    • Elky64

      OIS gives much more flexability over what can be achieved with the camera, especially during handheld situations.

      Ceramic and titanium are great additions but I’d rather have functionality over a pretty face. And we’re very happy with wireless charging as it’s known today, no do I forsee your idea of what it should be arriving on scene anytime soon.

      Haven’t had any experiences with my IP68 rated phones overheating. Besides, if it does get dunked, chances are it’ll fair far better than one that is not… A phone that isn’t waterproof is gaurenteed not to be covered by the OEMs so your point is kind of moot.

      With my expandable storage capable phones we keep all our photos, videos, etc on it. If something ever happens where we need to do a reset, no backing up required. A worse case, phone become incompacitated. Chances are, that data will be lost, in my 99% chance it’ll be easily recoverable. I also can move that storage to any other phone that supports it, not so if it’s part of the device itself.

    • John Lofwire

      I will repeat pixel manage just fine with no OIS they obviously need to improve the software for the camera and its be fine I am curious about the result using third party camera app.

      Its funny I take durability of titanium and ceramic over glass and aluminium I take a solid face over a pretty but weak one.

      As for wireless charging its much slower than cable one and as its not that convenient as the distance is crap usb type c make it quite easy to plug in and charge way faster.

      Well I had several Samsung s7 and iphone 7 user having overheating device the ratio of issue for overheating is much higher than on a not waterproof one simple physic law in play there. By example with a powerful soc the s7 struggle to run a game like world of tanks blitz with all graphic detail maxed at 30 fps where a lg g5 with a slower soc run same game with everything maxed at 60 fps steady. Hell I never seen iphone overheat before the 7. Throttling a real issue.

      As for waterproof its might not be as easy to achieve using titanium ect but as statistic proven there is much more phone broke by physical damages than water (I do work at a carrier)

      I use Google photo for the same purpose you use your expendable storage its only backup when on wifi to limit data usage and nothing stop me from predownloading video ect on wifi if needed that last point have i would say do haveadvantage and inconvenient on both side.

      Onboard memory is Much faster. All app can be install to it.

      Expendable memory are slower.
      Cant install all app to it.

      Its also won’t protect your files if you loose your device but its do not use data…

      Stop thinking that your needs are everyone needs I am getting tired of Samsung fanboy who think everyone have same needs and want a easy to break pieces of glass.

      On essential phone slap a tempered glass and your covered no need to hide the phone under a case.

    • Elky64

      “Stop thinking that your needs are everyone needs I am getting tired of Samsung fanboys who think everyone has same need and want a easy to break pieces of glass” – look who’s calling the kettle black.

      Besides, “MY” opinion never stated it as being for everyone’s needs either, ya know p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l opinion.

      As for me being a Sammy fanboy – How about I own two Sammy’s, 1-LG, 1-BlackBerry, 2-iPhones, and 3-Windows Phones – now if that’s indicating I am a Sammy “fanyboy” then guess you are right???

    • John Lofwire

      So lets see..

      You spoke of some features.

      OIS ( not present on mostly all Windows phone and blackberry)

      Wireless charging are not present on any of the brand you own beside Samsung.

      Waterproofing beside iphone 7 and Samsung phone none have them.

      You clearly stated those are essential functions so basically its functions everyone need and they magically happen to all be included in your beloved piece of glass. Dont be an hypocrite :).

      Finally as proven several time in past comment I made I am all about asking questions to my clients to recommend the best device and not the brand they want.

      Yesterday I met a business owner and he asked for the best camera quality for a good price when we spoke on the phone before the meeting he was thinking only Samsung have a good csmerw.
      Showed him Samsung s8 (200$ on contract) pixel (200$ on contract) and lg g6 (0$ on contract) took time to ask him if he play heavy games he dont all he do is social network and dont play game and told me he dont need the latest update all the time.

      So at first he wanted an s8 but as he dont need raw power he took the g6 he liked price and the wide angle camera and as a bonus he can use an otter box with tempered glass screen protector wich dont fit well on s8 thanks to edged screen.

      Go take a chill pill.

    • Elky64

      Actually, two of my Windows Phone’s have OIS aaaand wireless charging, and a fourth one I sold was equipped as such too.

      No, I did not say they were essential for “everyone’s needs”. If you reread my initial post I stated “the Essential far exceeds those (compromises) that I’m willing to give up”.

      And because I own phones w/o some of the criteria mentioned means nothing, how is one going to know their likes, dislikes, or must-haves, don’t wants, unless they’ve tried devices on ALL levels?

      I too base my recommendations off of what’s best for a user, if it happens that a particular brand proves to be better suite to most then sobeit.

      As with anything in this world nothing is perfect and that includes the mobile realm, yet if “I’m” going to dole out for a device that garners flagship pricing, it better well excel in the flagship arena, or at least darn close to it.

      Don’t think I need a chill pill but do believe someone needs to read a bit more thoroughly – Again, my initial post was in regards to the Essential phone and how I found it to be lacking for MY needs, especially considering the price point.

    • John Lofwire

      Give model of those windows device so i can double check your claim as there was almost none with both wireless charging and OIS.

      Your comment was based on review and sounded its was essential for everyone.

      The best way to know is to be asked question about how we will use the device.
      That way its pretty easy to give the best device for the clients needs.

      Everything a question of point of view.
      for me a flagship must be very durable for its price thats something we dont see much from any OEM lately and thats i am sure we can agree on it.
      So if that device very durable its a good one.

      Your initial post was unclear but thanks for clarifying.

    • Elky64

      Had the L1020 w/OIS & wireless charging but sold it, presently in possession of an L830 and L950 both being equipped w/OIS & wireless charging… My L650 has neither.

      Agree, asking questions is a good thing.

      Any phone I’ve purchased has been more than durable enough including those w/glass backs, always been one to take extra care. In 16+ years have yet to damage a single mobile phone whilst working in an underground mine as a HD Mechanic. Just tells me, if any device is handled accordingly, and with a bit of care, it’ll last a very long time.

      Anyhow, have yourself a great day 🙂

    • John Lofwire

      Oh those are the Nokia right? Yeah they where the exception all others windows phone had none of those option.

      Well sadly you are the exception… Tons of s6 s7 and s8 with broken back and front its horrible that why I dont recommend them to ppl who do the kind of work you do or similar work.

      Me I am the other way around work in an office and I broke some phone so now stuck to use rugged case. That phone will make it possible to just use a tempered glass screen protector and leave the phone naked.

      Each have different needs.

      Good day as well.

    • Elky64

      As a matter of fact, the 1020/830 are Nokia whereas, the 650/950 are Microsoft – all carry the Lumia name.

    • John Lofwire

      The 1020 needed a special case made by Nokia for wireless charging so finally dont really count (many phone including iphone can get a case for wireless charging)

    • Elky64

      True, but it wasn’t a 3rd party add-on since being designed by Nokia themselves. Many other brands require you to plug into phone’s charging port whereas as the 1020 Incorporated pogo contacts on back, so more represented wireless charging as we know it today compared to 3rd party renditions.

    • Elky64

      It’s a little different in a sense, many phones require you to plug into the charging port especially those where the battery is sealed/inaccessible. On the 1020 there’s contacts on back of phone that marry with pogo pins on wireless charging shell, does not interfere w/other ports in any way. So wasn’t a 3rd party rendition which to me, makes a difference, and I guess it all depends how one looks at it. IMHO, it’s more like an early stage of wireless charging, that in a lot of ways, represents that of which we know of today.

    • John Lofwire

      Yeah i just look at the end result.. needed an additional accessories to make it work ( did not come in the box you needed to purchase it )

      Its still a better solution than others third party case for sure as its keep the port free ( would be funny to test if its charge faster if you plug the charger and put on a wireless pad lol )

    • Elky64

      Dependant on where phone was bought it did come bundled in some circumstances.

      Doubt it’ll charge any faster and as you said, more than likely slower. Does depend on Qi pad as I’ve seen differences with them all.

      My S7/S7 Edge uses the Samsung “Quick Charge” wireless charger. Under normal phone settings finding it quite similar to having it plugged in although never actually timed. Switch over to Fast Cable Charging (within phone settings) and things are deffinitely way faster.

      All in all it is just another convenience where you don’t have to physically fiddle with a cable, a simple and quick onehanded affair to plop phone onto base, no real precisness to it either I find.

    • John Lofwire

      I am still curious to see if its can take charge both from the cable and the wireless pad at the same time ( thats was my question )

      Only thing i dont like of wireless charger is they die for no reason 🙁
      My nexus 7 2013 ( wireless charging enabled ) i charge it with wireless as the plug is broken since 2 years..

      i burn 1 wireless charger per 6 months..
      they just stop working and even if i use others device like a samsung S7 its wont work ever again 🙁 Searched online and could not find anyone experiencing the same issue so that something that bug me with wireless charging..

  • vn33

    Question … For the phones which does not properly support the Freedom Mobile Band 66, can it later be compateble with a firmware/software update?

  • Ipse

    I think there will /should be a shift towards the mid-range phones that now pack enough horsepower and quality components to rival the high-end ones. Otherwise how can I justify paying 1200$ for a phone that will not get even security updates after 3 years, let alone Android updates.
    If they want to treat phones as disposable, they can’t expect us to pony up thousands.

    • The Finder

      Yeah, this, the Note 8 and the iPhone 8 are going to be the 1,2, 3 punch that ushers in this new $1000+ smartphone cost. All within a month. My problem with this is the lifetime of the product. I already know that in 1yr its going to be taken over by the next generation of that phone and in 2yrs its going to just be behind in terms of the latest technology. Yes you buy a computer for like $1500+ but you don’t throw that computer out after 2years and get a better one. I think people will still swallow this, but this is pretty much cutting out or at least hurting the average guy.

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      I tend I tend to wait about 6-8 months an pick up an LG G# for $400 used or a bit higher new. I’ve got zero interest in $1000 phone that in this case offers me less than a G6.

      There is nothing Esstential about this phone or this company at this point.

    • thereasoner

      This^, these +1000 prices are for those who pre-order or who must have it soon after launch. The market is saturated with low growth so most all flagship phones start see discounts a couple of months in that only get bigger/better as time moves on. Unless this phone experiences Pixel like supply/demamd issues then I’m expecting the same type of deals not long after launch.

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      A bad combo here is an underwhelming phone that’s overpriced. Now we face a proposition of paying top dollar fior Lessons features, incremental speed and not a lot else. Hence I’m fine with my G4 and wife with her iPhone 6. No reason to upgrade.

    • thereasoner

      The biggest draw for this phone will be it’s stock like Android performance and timely updates…that is if they can pull it off.

      For me it’s biggest draw back is the timing of it’s release just prior to a new version of Android. They are going to miss almost a full year of support for the current Android version making the Essential phone the least supported Android flagship in terms of duration.

    • Vinnie Mac

      IPhones rarely go on sale

    • John Lofwire

      Iphone on sales all the time…

      Iphone 7 is 100$ off right now compared to normal price. ( on contract )
      170$ off iphone 6S ( on contract )

      300$ off lg g6. ( on contract )

      sure the discount is smaller but its often on sales.

    • John Lofwire

      your computer you pay 1500$ for after one year its taken over by the new model and after 2 years its behind in technology.

      So my question is this one.. why you can live with that with a computer and not a cellphone?

      I have client on samsung s6 or lg g4 ect and they are happy with it and take a BYOD plan instead of renewing… you cannot do the same? you need always to have latest tech?

      Thats my question to you.

    • The Finder

      I’ve got a mid-2014 macbook pro that I got in mid-2015 for about $1500 with taxes included. And I don’t have any thought of replacing it, probably for another 3-4 years. It runs very fast and it’s got good features and 8gb ram on macOS is fine. I don’t even think about upgrading it and I don’t check or read online to see better models. Sometimes I see new computers and get interested bc they are lighter, better specs, but this one is still excellent so it’s not serious consideration.

      For phones, yeah Im always checking and even waiting for the launch dates of the flagships like iphone, galaxy s and note, Htc, lg, oneplus bc its just like a tech hobby and really interesting to me. Also they advertise alot and all the YouTube tech reviewers review it, so I’m always up to date on that coverage. 90% of this stuff I don’t even buy.

      I guess it’s really not that different objectively, but for me the thinking process is different. I see the phone as more of a cool gadget, in addition to being a functional tool.

    • John Lofwire

      Ah now i understand.

      I got an asus ROG from 2015 as well and i see no reason to change it.

      For smartphone well its also a passion for me and i even work for a carrier at business to business level because its make it possible for me to get mostly all phone dirt cheap so i change phone every 6 months.

      Example i now use a LG G6 i paid it like 400$ ( i sold my LG G5 for 300 lol wich i also paid 350$ ) so i almost dont loose a penny and get new device all the time.
      I guess if i had to paid it full or pay contract balance ect i probably would not change it as often and just change every 2-3 years.

      But thanks for clarifying and sorry for been a bit overzealous.

    • The Finder

      Oh ok awesome, no problem at all lol. That’s great though, that you get a big discount on the phones, perks of the job! Lucky.

    • John Lofwire

      Beside iphone yeah iphone carrier only make 50$ each sold Apple dont give a discount even if you buy 10000 of them..

      But its okay i am more android anyway.

  • Smanny

    It seems that width of 1440 for QHD displays is changing to 1312 now. It’s really only ever used for VR. So a vertical reduction of 128 pixels is actually a savings of 328 thousand pixels per frame. Or that works out to almost 20 mb of data saved per second if it’s set at 60 fps. But this phone is using an LCD display, so it doesn’t support Daydream VR. You still have the same horizontal pixels 2560 with this smartphone.

    I hope mobilesyrup reads this, and will do a 360 camera comparison between all the 360 camera devices out there. From the two Samsung Gear 360 cameras, LG 360 camera, Ricoh 360 cameras (3 of them), this essential 360 camera, Motorola’s 360 mod camera, and any others that you would like to include here. I only listed 8 different models. I know there is more expensive 360 camera rigs as well.

    • Igor Bonifacic

      It’s definitely something we’ll consider once we get our hands on the Essential 360 Camera.

  • keithzg

    including Band 66, which is the frequency through which Freedom Mobile delivers its AWS LTE network in Ontario and British Columbia

    Hey now, don’t you be pulling a Trudeau and forgetting about Alberta!

  • Beebs

    I picked up a new android phone with android 7.1.1 and an earphone jack for $150. I will sell it for $75 in a year. No need to pay more than $6/mo for the latest android phone.

    • heynow00

      Hello apples.

      Hey oranges.

  • gommer strike

    Beautiful back, great display, eyebrow-raising front cutout(iPhone8 is doing it too), but…

    Other reviewers are saying the camera ain’t so hot. Yes, even with the update. The update just makes the camera from horrible to passable. That’s not good. A $1000+ phone with an only so-so camera? Ya I dunno.

    It’s not the Essential phone’s fault though, that they can only promise those major Android OS updates(you should be fine for Android O and P, but not Q) beyond 2 years. That’s on Qualcomm and the reason why your Snapdragon 801 devices can’t get Nougat.

    So I don’t know. A phone at that price range people are expecting to have all the flagship features(water proofing is just one of them) or why not just invest in a more midrange device?

  • Dear Freedom Mobile:

    Do you want new customers? Then I suggest you revise your network so any device that can tune into Band 66 will connect to your LTE network.

    • Stephen B Morris

      But they won’t. And I suspect that the others carriers would start doing the same to ensure phone sales are still being done through them and that they still have control through contracts. Since all phones will be unlocked by December 1st. I personally don’t like where this is going.

    • Neither do I. *frowns* And ironically? I think this is worse than the carriers simply recovering the $37million they lost in unlock fees.

  • villain

    I thought the whole “Essential” part was to cut all the unnecessary bulk/extras to make it an affordable option?

    • Elky64

      Obviously there’s a price to pay for being a “first adopter”.

      Dunno but the prices phones are garnering these days is infringing on the side of rediculous, ok already has. Doesn’t matter if it has all the bells-n-whistles, if the market can sustain guaranteed it’ll be up there. Essentially, the word “affordable” rarely applies to mobile these days, in the true sense.

    • villain

      true enough

    • gommer strike

      No, their vision of “Essential” is to make the phone that the founders wanted. Premium materials and meant to be exclusive to only the people who can afford it and in limited quantities – due to the materials used to make the casing, which aren’t designed to scale to massive manufacturing, eg. hundreds of millions.

      They want to be another Apple/Samsung but without the big marketing pizzazz and mass quantities. They want it be a little exclusive, a little special.

  • Can’t Fix Stupid

    While Oneplus botched its initial phone launch, they delivered a more ‘Esstential’ phone at half the price.

    I also am not on board with the ‘groupthink’ around the headphone jack. And this phone goes back in time to a single speaker also. Tired of the “you don’t need that because I said so” bent to these phones.

    Right now the LG G6 version with the higher end DAC looks like my next phone and will probably end up half the price.

    • gommer strike

      The LG G6 is not gonna end up half the price. It’ll be quite close, within a few hundred dollars. It is a flagship device with the specs to boot.

    • David Ng

      I got a 870DS variant for half the cost of an essential phone outright 2 weeks ago. A little over 600 shipped to my door

    • gommer strike

      This is a HK variant. There are users who report that this phone has issues connecting to Bell in Atlantic Canada. It’s missing some bands that the Canadian version would not. But whatever if it works for you great.

  • kr_metal

    Was thinking of maybe getting this phone, but 2 years of updates is a bit of a waste of hardware. I wish more companies did Apple’s 5 years of support. The iPhone 5 only becomes outdated this year.

    • Elky64

      Sadly that seems to be the wave of the future since many upgrade their devices every 1-2 years. From my perspective, the cell phone is becoming a disposable commodity per se, and do find it strange considering pricing just keep heading upwards.

      Like someone else mentioned, “does everyone go out and buy a new PC every one or two years?”. Doubt the majority do so why is it so different w/phone?

      And yeah, IMHO Apple is king in the support department. Highly doubt others (manufactures) are willing to go in that direction for some time to come, they stand to lose way too much $$$ and that’s not good for “their” business.

    • Stephen B Morris

      Electronics in general have become a disposable commodity.

    • John Lofwire

      Iphone 5 been outdated since easily 2-3 years..

      its has load of strange slowdown and horrible battery life.

      update should make phone better not worst if its make it worst then maybe not updating it is better.
      Google approach on that end if better ( they update the api so you can run almost any app on older android version ) and security software can fill the security hole.

      on iphone if you dont update you get annoying popup and more and more app stop working.