Essential said it was focusing on high-end hardware and features that would put the device up against products from Samsung, Apple, and Google. It seems to have lived up to the promise with a handset that boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4GB of RAM, USB Type-C, a 3040mAh battery, and 128GB of UFS 2.0 internal storage.
Unlike many of today’s aluminum phones, the device is made of titanium and ceramic, which means it should be able to withstand accidental falls and bumps better than most. It also looks very sleek, with a conspicuous absence of logos.
Probably the most noticeable feature is that 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1312 QHD (503 PPI) screen. Like most modern flagships, the 19:10 display has an edge-to-edge design, but it goes all the way to the top, wrapping itself around the front-facing camera – something that could be a ‘love it or hate it’ quirk. The Verge notes that the status bar at the top of an Android screen doesn’t fill the middle space with icons, so it's supposedly efficient. But the camera can look a bit invasive when viewing full-length images.
Another interesting feature of the Essential phone is that it’s modular. As with Motorola’s Moto Mods, you can customize the handset by attaching accessories; in this case, they stick to the magnetic pins on its back. One of the add-ons is a 360-degree camera that can shoot spherical UHD video at 30 fps. There’s also a cradle-style charging dock available.
The Essential phone’s built-in camera is no slouch, either. It uses a dual-lens setup consisting of a regular 13MP CIS and a monochrome CIS that takes in more light, making it ideal for low-light photography. And don’t forget about that 8-megapixel front-facing snapper, which can also record 4K video.
Other features include Gorilla Glass 5, Android Nougat 7.1.1, a rear fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 5.0, and no bloatware. Like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it lacks a headphone jack, but Essential includes a complimentary USB C-to-3.5mm adaptor with every device sold.
The Essential phone is available to pre-order today for $699 or $749 if you want the camera accessory. No word yet on when it’ll ship.