Right on the heels of the Samsung Galaxy S8, Andy Rubin launches the first fruits of his own ambitious project with the Essential Phone, with a screen stretching across the top edges of the phone, ignoring the curves and the front facing camera.
First, the Android phone basics: the Essential Phone costs $699 with top-of-the-line specs and features. It’s a unique take on a big screen that makes the phone stand out — and it’s smart, too. Often, the status bar at the top of an Android phone doesn’t fill that middle space with icons, so it’s efficient.
Essential is clearly planning on releasing a very well-made phone: the screen looks promising, it has no annoying logos, and it is built with a combination of titanium and ceramic so it can survive a drop test “without blemish, unlike the aluminum competitor devices.”
The Essential Phone also has a good take on the dual-camera systems we’ve seen on other phones. Rather than use the second lens for telephoto or bokeh, it’s using it for a monochrome sensor. That second sensor will be able to take in more light than a traditional color camera, meaning it can be combined with the regular 13-megapixel for better low-light shots.
While the hardware efforts can be lauded, the biggest issue this phone faces right now is that it’s built on top of an Android version which isn’t optimised for this direction — the rounded corners and cut-out (which admittedly I’m not a fan of) might feel awkward right now — similar to when Android wasn’t ready for big phones when they arrived. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of controlling just the hardware.
Essential is also placing a lot of emphasis on their modular nature, such as attaching a 360 degree camera. You can read about it on their site.