Hands On With Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Here it is, then — the smartphone from Andy Rubin, the father of the Android operating system.

Called Essential Phone and made by Essential, Rubin’s startup, the new device is a thing of sheer and utter beauty, and I’m quickly falling in love with it. Priced at $700, it’s making a very tempting case to take its place in my hands and pockets as my next smartphone.

The Phone is a latest member of what I like to call the “stock Android club.” It joins the likes of Google’s Pixel and the OnePlus 5 in running the basic, unadulterated version of the operating system.

Thats a good thing, because stock Android is the best Android, and there aren’t enough devices out there than run it. Instead, there are too many otherwise well-designed phones, like the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, whose versions of Android include bloated layers of software and a bunch of unwanted apps.

It feels like, with the Essential Phone, the Father of Android is trying to make a statement to the smartphone industry. It’s possible, he seems to be saying to rivals, to make a great, premium smartphone with top-of-the-line specs and materials without having to hike prices and without having to mess with Android.

I’ll have a full review of the Essential Phone later, after I’ve had more time to test it. For now, here are my initial hands-on impressions:

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The Essential Phone is a beautiful smartphone.
The Phone’s design is somewhat generic, but it’s tasteful, and the device’s titanium body and ceramic back give it a premium look and feel.

The phone has a 5.71-inch IPS display, which delivers beautifully rich and inky colors. With a resolution of 2560 x 1312 pixels, it’s sharp, too. It’s not quite as sharp as the Galaxy S8’s display, but you won’t really notice the difference.

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Its back is made of ceramic, which is gorgeous
Can you spot what’s missing? It doesn’t have a single logo. That omission just adds to the Phone’s classy and pristine design.

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The back also has a perfectly smooth mirror finish.
The downside of that is that the back is practically begging for scratches and fingerprint smudges. So far, neither Essential or third parties have made a case for the Essential Phone, which suggests that the company doesn’t necessarily want you to use a case.

Indeed, Essential suggests that the Phone’s titanium build makes it more durable than other smartphones with glass or aluminum builds. But unless the back is made of sapphire glass – which it isn’t – it’s likely to scratch, and an Essential Phone owner may want some sort of case to keep the Phone’s pristine looks.

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The Phone’s back includes some of its key features.
You’ll find there the device’s fingerprint scanner, its dual-lens camera system, and two magnetic, metallic pins that are used to connect add-ons, like a 360-degree camera.

Both of the device’s built-in back cameras have 13-megapixel sensors, but one of the cameras takes shots in full color, while the other shoots only in black and white.

The Phone’s fingerprint sensor is OK. It isn’t as fast as the one on the OnePlus 5, but so far I’ve found that it’s faster and more accurate than the Galaxy S8’s.

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The camera appears to be excellent.
I’ll be testing it further for a full review later on. But here’s a shot taken of our usual test scene.

When you take a picture, both the color and monochrome sensors capture an image at the same time. The Phone combines them to create a photo with great contrast and clarity.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Business Insider, Antonio Villas-Boas