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Essential PH-1 review: Nearly Perfect Smartphone

Andy Rubin founded an operating system that is powering 85% of all smartphone devices being used all around the world. Now Rubin wants to move smartphone industry needle once more, may be at small scale. Thinking of that he has launched the first smartphone of its startup Essential Phone PH-1. Essential is an Android phone which aims to solve significant industry problems.

The Essential PH-1 review: A beautiful blank slate

Essential Phone which began shipping on August 25 for $699 or Rs. 69,999 is willing to be a healthy competition for Samsung and Apple.


The Essential Phone PH-1 manages to fit in 5.7-inch with 2,560 x 1,312 display into chassis that is not much larger. Stacked up against Google Pixel XL. It is roughly same size as of hand, but it’s all screen phone.

Essential has taken bezel reduction to a new level. You will find small bezel “chin” on the bottom of the smartphone, but screen nearly spills over the top of it where selfie camera is embedded. All of the looks impressive because LCD wraps around front-facing camera instead of shoving it to bottom.

The company used titanium frame instead of typically used aluminum that offers much higher durability. That means this phone won’t bend or break under those circumstances where other phones would.

You won’t find 3.5mm headphone jack on Essential PH-1 they’ve added volume rocker, power button and a USB-C charging port that makes their usual appearance the on the bottom.

The backside of the phone is as flat as the front, and about 80% of it is free of any markings whatsoever.

If you look at the back, you will find two I/O port, and you might wonder what is that? You will be amazed to know Essential has its first ever 360 cameras for a phone that needed to be plugged in on those I/O ports to work.

Display and sound

The 5.7-inch Quad HD screen is pretty impressive, and the way PH-1 is defining LCD stretches almost entirely across its face leaving only a few millimeters black chin beneath the panel. When the screen is off, it feels like something in future.

There is 8MP front facing the camera carved on top, and the best thing is it won’t cause any issue in the way of the notification bar.

Yes, it’s almost impossible at first not to gawk at the PH-1’s screen. The gap between the panel and the glass that covers it may as well not exist, so viewing angles are excellent. Colors are clean and vivid, though they lack the telltale punchiness of AMOLED screens. As technically impressive as it is, the screen does fall short in a few ways.

The LCD has gorgeously vibrant colors almost AMOLED level but isn’t as bright as some of its competitors. It’s also a bummer to come across apps that don’t take full advantage of that extra screen space.

The speaker (in fact single speaker) gets the audio job done decently. It is louder than You would expect. If you spend most of your day listening to audiobooks, podcasts or music that doesn’t feature prominent bass, the speaker shouldn’t bother you much.

You can’t plug headphone because there is no 3.5mm headphone jack instead you will have to use USB Type C to Headphone adapter and there will not be any difference in the quality of sound even with adapters.

Android and Performance

PH-1 runs a minimalist version of Android 7.1.1 Nougat with all Google’s apps and no duplicates. The very sparse Android build means Essential will offer software updates easier and you will be getting two years of Android updates for Essential PH-1 it’s company promised.

The Essential Phone PH-1 benchmarked on par with other Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 phones like the Galaxy S8, HTC U11, and OnePlus 5 on the AnTuTu and PCMark benchmarks. It scored 6,592 on PCMark Work and 161,746 on AnTuTu, while the Galaxy S8 scored 6,905 and 158,266 respectively.

Out of 128GB, the phone has 116GB of available storage (there’s no memory card slot, though) and 4GB of RAM. We’re still in the process of testing its 3,040mAh battery and will update this section as soon as we have a result.

It has 116GB storage available out of 128GB for use, and there is no memory card slot with 4GB of RAM. The battery tests are being conducted, and we will update results shortly.

Essential Phone PH-1 Review

Camera and Image Quality

The Essential Phone has dual 13-megapixel cameras on back one RGB, and one for monochrome looks like it is becoming the standard for high-end phones. There is 8MP front facing shooter.

The dual cameras are Qualcomm Clear Sight setup designed to improve contrast and low light performance. The camera lens can capture more light with Clear Sight. The black and white lens capture beautiful details and color sensor fills all structures with colors.

The firmware update which was done right before the update improved low light camera quality but not much. There are yet more software updates to come. In better light conditions the Essential Phone may be a rival of Galaxy S8.


Incredible build quality Camera needs a lot of work
Beautiful edge-to-edge display No headphone jack or water resistance
Excellent performance Screen could be brighter
Very good battery life Glossy back picks up smudges easily
Clean build of Android 7.1.1


Written by:

This article is written by Amanda Brown, a professional freelance writer at CustomEssayOrder.com. She loves to find new approaches to old issues, to help others, and to create engaging content. Apart from her profession, Amanda also has a passion for history and traveling.