Last week the father of Android’s new company Essential teased that they would be announcing their new phone on May 30. It is now May 30 in parts of the USA and the details of the bezel-less phone have been announced by the Verge and Essential’s new website.
The Essential Phone, the Essential PH-1, is not just an amazing look piece of kit but is innovative in more ways than one. It has the suspected near full front face display which wraps around the 8MP front facing camera. The only sign of what we would call a bezel is at the bottom of the phone, and it seems to be around the same size as that on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6.
The rear of the phone has a dual camera system with the second sensor being used as a monochrome sensor (ala Huawei on the P9 and P10) which is then combined with the 13MP f/1.85 lens sensor for better low-light photos. Next to the rear camera is the usual noise cancelling mic but next to that is another place where this phone is innovative — a magnetic connector. This connector allows accessories or modules to connect to the phone and then transfer data both ways using wireless data transfer.
At this stage there is only a 360 degree camera ($50US if purchased at the same time as the phone or $199US separately) and a charging dock which will be offered separately. The 360 degree camera houses dual 12-megapixel fisheye sensors that can capture 4K 360 video at 30fps and weighs just 35 grams. This is the strange silhouette we saw in their tweet the other day. It also has four microphones for audio capture all packed in a body that is less than 67mm high, 32mm wide and 12mm thick.
The Essential Phone itself has some impressive specs beginning with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. There is 4GB of RAM and a decent 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. There is a 3040mAh battery that is charged using fast charging via the USB Type-C port. The display is a 2560 x 1312 QHD 5.71in LCD (CGS/LTPS) display with a 19:10 ratio. There are all the usual Wi-Fi connection options (802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO) alongside Bluetooth 5.0 LE and NFC.
There is very little detail on the software at this stage just that it is running Android. Being Andy Rubin’s brainchild we expect it to run the latest Android version with very little in the way on a manufacturer overlay.
The body of the phone is made of titanium which Essential have put to the test and shown to survive falls and drops better than aluminium-bodied phones. The back of the phone is ceramic with the front display covered with Gorilla Glass 5. The phone will come in four colours, Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White and Ocean Depths but at this stage only the black and white are available with the other two “available soon”.
The good news for Aussies is that the phone will support all of our major LTE bands with it supporting:
- UMTS/HSPA+: 1, 2, 4, 5 6, 8
- GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
- CDMA EV-DO Rev. A: 0, 1, 10
- FDD-LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 66
- TDD-LTE: 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43
- TD-SCDMA: 34, 39
The bad news for Aussies is that at this stage it is only available in the US. For those interested in purchasing one it will cost you $699US for just the phone or $749US with the phone/360 degree camera package. Shipping to the US is included in that cost.
There’s a lot of great hardware in the Essential, but one ‘essential’ piece of kit missing is the headphone jack. Guess it’s not all that essential after all.
It is a bold move by Essential to attempt to effectively create their own ecosystem with the modules but if they are controlling the modules and continue to support them going forward it looks to be a great move. Without the modules themselves the phone seems likely to be able to hold it’s own against anything else out there. The sheer beauty of the bezel-less display and minimal design (there is not a single logo to be seen anywhere) could well set this phone apart from the pack.
If you do want more info, Andy will be on-stage at CODE in a few hours
Are you impressed with this phone? Will you be looking at ways to import one? I am considering it, that is for sure.