It’s been a big week for Essential Products, the design-centric gadget company founded by Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android. First, the company was valued at over a billion dollars, according to Bloomberg‘s Tim Culpan, without having shipped a single product. (The company had announced the Essential Phone and the Essential Home in late May.) Then yesterday, the Essential Phone was made available to order on Essential’s, Best Buy’s and Sprint’s websites. And finally, today, the first reviews of the Essential Phone are out on the web.
So, is the Essential Phone — with its huge display, minimalist design, and ambitious modular system — worth buying? How does it compare to the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8? Here’s what reviews from other publications are saying.
“The Essential Phone is doing so much right: elegant design, big screen, long battery life, and clean software. And on top of all that, it has ambitions to do even more with those modules. If you asked Android users what they wanted in the abstract, I suspect a great many of them would describe this exact device. But while the camera is pretty good, it doesn’t live up to the high bar the rest of the phone market has set.” — Dieter Bohn, The Verge
“And that tiny notch at the top, around the camera? I couldn’t stop looking at it for about an hour, then promptly stopped noticing. I like it more than what I’ve seen in renderings of the next iPhone, and I’d rather have it than the wonky camera placement in something like the Xiaomi Mi Mix. Until manufacturers figure out how to remove the camera notch altogether, this feels like the best answer.” — David Pearce, Wired
“There is no branding, be it Essential’s logo or a carrier’s. There is no camera bump. Beyond the cutouts for things like the dual cameras, the flash, and a fingerprint reader, it’s a sprawling, gleaming slab of shiny.” — Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch
“So let’s get straight to the marquee feature, as powering up the phone makes it clear off the bat – this phone is different. A 5.7-inch QHD display is sprawled out as much as it can possibly be on the Essential, making for a 19:10 aspect ratio and some of the most minimal bezels we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.” — Joshua Vergara, Android Authority
“In my testing, Essential’s camera consistently produced photos with more realistic colors and sharper details than my iPhone did. If you’re used to phones that saturate colors more, then Essential’s photos may look a bit flatter. (You can always just crank up the saturation in a photo editing app or with Google Photos’ built-in adjustments.)” — Karissa Bell, Mashable