Bare Es­sen­tial

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - FIRST TAKE -

Andy Ru­bin,

the cre­ator of An­droid, left Google a cou­ple of years ago to start his own tech­nol­ogy com­pany called Es­sen­tial. And now he has launched the first smart­phone from the Es­sen­tial sta­ble – the PH-1 Phone.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are bound to be sky high since An­droid is unar­guably the most pop­u­lar mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem. But Ru­bin is play­ing it rather sim­ple. Un­like other man­u­fac­tur­ers that en­sure the logo and brand name are con­spic­u­ous, there is marked sim­plic­ity and lack of brand­ing on this phone.

Es­sen­tial’s PH-1 Phone has been crafted from a com­bi­na­tion of ti­ta­nium and ce­ramic, with Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass 5 cover glass, to make it ro­bust enough to sur­vive dents, scratches, bends and even falls. It boasts fu­tur­is­tic aes­thet­ics with an al­most edge-to-edge 5.71-inch dis­play with only a thin bezel at the bot­tom. There aren’t many hard­ware but­tons – only the vol­ume keys and power but­ton are housed on the metal edge on the side. It has on board a 10-fin­ger multi-touch sen­sor with palm and wa­ter er­ror re­jec­tion. There is no tra­di­tional 3.5-mm head­phone jack, but a USB Type-C is present.

The Es­sen­tial phone will be avail­able in four colours – black moon, stel­lar grey, pure white and ocean depth – all of which look strik­ing. There is a 13-MP dual RGB camera at the rear and an 8-MP front camera.

Like LG and Mo­torola, Es­sen­tial seems to be adopt­ing a mo­du­lar ap­proach. The phone has a mag­netic con­nec­tor at the back for hook­ing up ac­ces­sories. Even though it houses the world’s thinnest dual camera sys­tem, the Es­sen­tial phone has de­signed a com­pact 360° camera ac­ces­sory that snaps to the mag­netic con­nec­tor. That apart, there is an Es­sen­tial Phone Dock that sup­ports quick wire­less charg­ing.

Es­sen­tial has not de­vel­oped a new op­er­at­ing sys­tem. In­stead, the com­pany has gone ahead with An­droid Nougat mi­nus any cus­tomi­sa­tion. The phone of­fers vanilla An­droid fea­tures with a set of Google ser­vices. There is no bloat­ware to hin­der user ex­pe­ri­ence. Es­sen­tial Phone has top-of-the-line spec­i­fi­ca­tions – it is pow­ered by Qual­comm Snap­dragon 835 Sys­tem on Chip (SoC); the octa-core pro­ces­sor is clocked at 2.45 GHz + 1.9 GHz paired with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of in­ter­nal stor­age.

De­spite its no-frills ap­proach, the Es­sen­tial Phone has quite a grand price tag. At $699, in the US mar­ket, the phone is def­i­nitely not in the af­ford­able cat­e­gory. It com­petes against Ap­ple’s iPhone 7 and Google’s Pixel se­ries.

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