“Along with top-notch specs, the Essential PH-1 also offers support for modular accessories”

Did you know that Google didn’t actually create the Android platform? In fact, Android was the name of a startup originally founded by Andy Rubin, which was later bought by Google. After leaving Google in 2013, Rubin started a company called Essential, which is now developing an entire ecosystem of gadgets. Its first smartphone is labelled Essential Phone PH-1, and was announced in August last year. Reports suggest that the Essential Phone could be coming to India, so we got our hands on the device at MWC to bring you our first impressions.

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The Essential Phone PH-1 is possibly among the very few phones with all-screen fronts and a notch up top. The notch holds the secondary camera, and ensures that even with a large 5.71-inch display, the smartphone has a small footprint and doesn’t feel unwieldy. The PH-1 is really slim at 7.8mm, and doesn’t feel too bulky despite tipping the scales at 185g. The brand has also put emphasis on the design and the construction materials used. The phone uses ceramic at the back and a titanium frame for strength. The device is available in various colour options like Halo Grey and Copper Black too. Having said that, the ceramic rear gathers smudges and fingerprints quite easily.

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The display on the PH-1 is a QHD+ panel with a unique resolution of 1,312 x 2,560 pixels, as it bears an unconventional aspect ratio of 19:10. The screen is quite sharp and reproduces accurate colours.

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The Essential Phone is a true flagship on the specs front. It comes with the powerful Snapdragon 835 processor, which was the top-of-the-line chipset at the time of its launch. The chip is paired with 4 gigs of RAM and promises buttery-smooth performance. The fact that the device runs a near-stock build of Android helps too. While the phone runs Nougat, the smartphone has started getting the beta builds of Android v8.0 Oreo.

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The storage stands at 128GB, but can’t be expanded further. The Essential Phone is powered by a 3,040mAh battery.

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The dual 13-megapixel f/1.9 cameras on the back of the PH-1 comprise RGB and monochrome sensors, which promise great shots with punchier colours. The shooters offer a portrait mode, along with the usual features such as phase detection and laser autofocus, 4k video recording, etc. The cut-out at the front holds an 8MP camera for selfies, and is capable of recording 4k videos. 

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Apart from the top-notch (pun intended) hardware, the Essential PH-1 is semi-modular too, as it allows the user to snap attachments magnetically on the back of the phone. As of now, the brand is offering a 360-degree camera attachment. Once attached, it works seamlessly and doesn’t require any learning curve either. The brand is also working on a phone dock that charges the device wirelessly.

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The Essential Phone was originally launched at a high price tag of $699, but now, the price has been dropped significantly. The phone will now set you back by $499 (around Rs 32,500), making it a compelling buy in the affordable flagships segment.

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One of the earliest members of the 91mobiles' editorial team, Nitansh is a walking encyclopaedia of product specs. Name a phone and he’ll tell you the specifics on screen resolution, processor and camera without blinking an eyelid. Ask him if he remembers the launch date of a noteworthy phone, and he'll tell you the dates when the device first leaked, its global unveil, its Indian launch, and when it got a significant update. He’s a lover of all things Android, and loves writing reviews and scouting for new apps. A Wordpress whiz, he’s always ready to help out a fellow writer. While he juggles between many things at 91mobiles, he always manages to find time to write. In his non-tech avatar, Nitansh is a philatelist, which is a fancy word for stamp-collector.