ESSENTIAL PHONE (PH-1) UK: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANDY RUBIN’S NEW ANDROID PHONE
Android creator Andy Rubin has been teasing his next project for some time, and now the Essential Phone (or Essential PH-1 to give it its proper name) has been unveiled. When it’s coming out in the UK, how much does it cost, and what are the specs? Our guide reveals all.
On Tuesday May 30, 2017, a new player was introduced to the smartphone world, when Android creator Andy Rubin debuted the Essential Phone.
It’s not the catchiest of names, but all the early signs are that the handset is an impressive offering that might just shake-up the mobile hierarchy, and give the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC, Google, and OnePlus pause.
Read on for a full rundown of the Essential Phone’s specs and key features, but first, here’s what we know so far about its UK price and release date.
ESSENTIAL PHONE RELEASE DATE – WHEN DOES THE PH-1 COME OUT IN THE UK AND US?
When Andy Rubin debuted the Essential Phone at Code 2017, he said he expected it to start shipping reserved units “within 30 days”.
That would mean the Essential Phone would be released by the end of June, but don’t be fooled – this is going to be a cult hit in the same way the first OnePlus phone was, so we’d expect teething pains a-plenty.
Those of you in the US can reserve one right away via the link below, but the UK, Europe, and other regions are in a holding pattern, with the Essential website noting that “we are shipping to the US only at this time”.
We’d be surprised if the device didn’t get a wider rollout, though, so watch this space.
ESSENTIAL PHONE PRICE – HOW MUCH DOES THE PH-1 COST IN THE UK AND US?
The Essential Phone is only available in one model – an unlocked one with 128GB of on-board storage – which costs $699.
That equates to roughly £545/$817.5 before VAT, though given the current economic climate, we’d be surprised if the Essential Phone retailed SIM-free for less than £599/$898.5 in the UK, should it launch.
US buyers can also take advantage of a limited time bundle, which throws in a 360-degree Essential Phone camera for an extra $50 (~£40) – a significant saving, given the add-on’s regular price tag is $199 (~£155).
ESSENTIAL PHONE SPECS AND FEATURES – WHY IS THE PH-1 INTERESTING?
Among the striking features are an edge-to-edge 5.7-inch QHD display that goes even further than the Galaxy S8’s screen, and a modular design.
Yes, the Essential Phone is betting on modular functionality, following some high profile failures in that space (LG’s G5 didn’t quite have the impact the company hoped).
The new phone brings with it a couple of accessories that can be attached to the handset via a magnetic connector and wireless data transfer.
Those accessories inclue the previously mentioned 360-degree camera that attaches to the top of the phone via the pogo pins, with the company said to be working on a charging dock set to launch in the future.
All of which is great, but when it comes to the standard stuff, such as hardware and design, the Essential Phone seems to be a serious contender in the smartphone market.
First up, the handset comes with a titanium and ceramic build which will apparently hold up better during drops than handsets from the big manufacturers – at least, according to Andy Rubin.
The edge-to-edge display leaves minimal bezels on the side and top of the phone’s front, with a small bezel at the bottom and a cutout for the front facing camera at the top.
That means the screen takes up more room on the front of the phone than on both the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8.
According to the report, the software will adapt itself around the front-facing camera cutout, never showing notification icons on that part of the screen.
Round the back, you’ll find a dual-camera setup whereby the second lens is used as a monochrome sensor – the same thing found on Huawei’s P9 and P10.
That monochrome sensor takes in more light than a traditional option, and combines with the 13-megapixel standard sensor to improve low-light performance.
The front-facing shooter is a modest 8-megapixel offering, but on the plus side, it is apparently capable of shooting 4K video.
Software is, as you’d expect, Android – the device is set to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat and will presumably be upgraded to Android O further down the line.
Internally, the company has packed the phone with the latest Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage – so it should be plenty fast and able to compete with the big phones of 2017.
And in what could be seen as a somewhat controversial move, Essential has opted to follow Apple and leave out the 3.5mm jack – though an adapter is said to be included with the phone.