The launch of Flagship smartphones is always something we look forward to, even if we cannot afford them. They let us see the next advancements in mobile technology and also expand our horizons on what a smartphone can do. Yesterday (31st of August) was a pretty interesting day. It was the day that the Essential PH-1 was made available for purchase. What’s so special about the Essential PH-1? Well, we decided to find out.
The first thing you notice when you look at the Essential PH-1 apart from its size which is 5.57 x 2.80 x 0.31 inches, is the placement of the front camera. Its front mounted in the middle towards the top of the screen. You would think that this would cause an intrusion with the bezels of the phone but it actually doesn’t. Speaking of bezels, the PH-1 actually has very minimal bezel space, utilizing almost the entirety of the front as the display. Sporting a 5.71” 1312*2560 resolution display protected by Gorilla Glass 5, the PH-1’s display is a LTPS IPS LCD screen capable of displaying 16M colors.
Essential’s PH-1 flagship phone is the first smartphone to be launched by the company. In case you didn’t know, Essential was founded by Andy Rubin, the man behind Android. Great things were expected from the Essential Ph-1 and indeed great things are in the PH-1. The PH-1 packs the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset unleashing a Octa core processor (4*2.45GHz and 4*1.9Ghz). It is also backed up by 4GB of RAM and has 128GB of onboard storage. Sadly, there’s not card slot for expandable storage though.
The next thing you would notice about the Essential PH-1 is that the body of the device is made up of titanium along the sides of the device and polished ceramic along the back. This makes it less likely to scratch and dent if you accidentally drop it but it also makes it a tad heavier than most smartphones. How heavy? Well, around 185g.
It also makes it a bit of a fingerprint magnet so you’ll probably find yourself constantly wiping the phone while using it. On the back of the device you will see a dual camera setup. The Essential PH-1 packs one 13MP Color lens and one 13MP monochrome lens. The latter is supposedly to give greater depth and dynamic range to your photographs.
In terms of Connectivity, the Essential PH-1 has GSM, HSDPA and LTE support so you can stream your favorite shows on with no issues. Along with the standard WiFi and Bluetooth inbuilt to the device, you would also notice that the PH-1 has two circular dots on the back of the phone. That’s where the cool stuff happens. The dots are actually connectors that would hold supported accessories. Currently, the only accessory available is a 360° camera which allows you to capture immersive images and video. As soon as you snap on the camera to the back of the phone, the camera app recognizes the device and launches into a 360° camera mode and taking the device off would exit the camera mode.
In terms of software, the Essential PH-1 truly does live up to its name of packing only the essentials. Powered by Android 7.1.1 Nougat with a possible Android 8.0 Oreo update in the works, the Essential PH-1 offers a near stock vanilla Android experience with no bloatware or unnecessary 3rd party apps. You get a few Google apps and that’s essentially it (pun intended).
Sadly, however, for some reason, the Essential PH-1 does not have a 3.5mm audio jack. Rather, all connectivity is via the USB Type-C port located at the bottom of the device. While there is a USB Type C to 3.5mm adapter given with the box, this also means that if you forget the adapter, your fancy earphones are not compatible with the Essential PH-1. Similarly, there were also reports that the Essential PH-1’s camera was rather lackluster and that weirdly, it seemed to lag a lot. This issue was made apparent in MKBHD’s review of the phone where it is clearly lagging when capturing photos and switching modes.
Overall, while the Essential PH-1 boasts about having the essentials, the fact that they thought a 3.5mm audio jack was not essential, along with a lackluster camera does tend to put one off. This is especially true when you consider that you’re paying close to $700 which roughly equates to around LRK 106,000/-. We really hope that Essential steps up their game and fixes the camera lag and the overall quality of photos via a software update, because after all, a good camera is essential nowadays, is it not? Now about that 3.5mm port…
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