Andy Rubin, one of the original creators of Android, is back with a bang. The Essential Phone looks to give you as much as possible from a device without bogging you down with technology that gets in the way.
It’s minimalist, durable and has an amazing looking screen. But how does it compare to the current crop of purist Android phones? Let’s find out.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Design
- Essential Phone is the smallest
- Pixel and Pixel XL are lighter
- All three have USB Type-C
One of the Essential Phone’s biggest attractions is its build materials. Its frame is built from titanium, which is stronger and more durable than aluminium, and its ceramic back is built to outlast the usual glass or metal coverings. Essential is so confident in this fact, that it won’t even design or release a case for it. Its front is covered in the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
It’s a striking looking phone, given that it is almost completely bezel-free. The screen fills the entire front of the phone, apart from the cutout for the front facing camera near the top, and the slim “chin” near the bottom of the phone. It measures in at 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm, and weighs a fairly substantial 183g.
Both the Pixel and Pixel XL feature the same combination of metal and glass, with the former material taking up around two thirds of the back. There is an iconic glass panel at the top of the back panel, with fairly large bezels surrounding the screen on the front.
Although the look of the two Pixel phones is the same, they obviously differ in size. The regular model measures 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm and weighs 143g, while the Pixel XL is a more hefty 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm, weighing 168g.
All three phones have very minimal camera and fingerprint sensor designs, with the sensors sitting right beneath the surface, rather than protruding out of the back. Where the Essential Phone differs is that there are a couple of magnetic pins on the back for where you can attach modules like the charging base or 360-degree camera.
And while the Pixel phone’s “G” logo on the back is among the most minimal of any branding we’ve seen, the Essential Phone takes it one step further. There’s no brand name or logo on it anywhere.
Of the three phones, the Essential Phone is the slimmest and shortest, which is all the more impressive considering its screen is bigger than both the Pixel XL and Pixel. It is slightly wider than the smaller Pixel, but only by 1.4mm, which is hardly enough to put anyone off. It is heavier than both the Google-made phones though.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Display
- Essential Phone has largest display
- Both Pixel phones use AMOLED
- Bezel-free LCD panel on Essential Phone
The Essential Phone’s 5.7-inch display is incredibly interesting. It’s almost entirely bezel free and has an unusual 1312 x 2560 resolution, 19:10 resolution screen. That means a pixel density of around 504ppi. It has rounded corners and it’s LCD IPS, which means it should be very accurate, but not as saturated or high contrast as AMOLED screens.
It’s worth noting the top of the screen has a cutaway for the front facing camera, but you shouldn’t worry about missing anything here, it’s normally reserved for status bar icons/notifications, which can easily fit around it.
Neither the Pixel’s 5-inch or Pixel XL’s 5.5-inch display measures as big diagonally as the Essential Phone, but the Pixel XL’s 2560 x 1440 resolution means that it is a little sharper. It’s also likely to feature more vivid colours and deeper blacks, thanks to the AMOLED based panel.
The smaller Pixel has a full HD 1080 x 1920 panel, with a pixel density of 440 ppi, and is protected – like the XL – by Gorilla Glass 4.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Camera
- Essential Phone has a dual rear camera with two 13MP sensors
- All three have 8MP selfie cams
Of the three phones, the Essential Phone is the only one to feature a dual camera system. Similar to Huawei phones, this setup is made up of one colour sensor and one black and white sensor.
Both are 13-megapixel sensors with f/1.9 aperture lenses, and combine to hopefully make lowlight shots much better. You can also use the monochrome sensor to take pure black and white shots. The camera system also has PDAF and laser autofocus.
Both Pixels has the same 12.3-megapixel sensor, f/2.0 cameras which can produce fantastic results with very little effort. They both also have phase detection and laser autofocus and a dual tone LED flash.
All three phones have 8-megapixel front facing cameras for selfie takers, although the Essential Phone’s is the only one that can shoot 4K resolution video.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Hardware
- Essential Phone has Snapdragon 835
- Pixel phones use Snapdragon 821
- 4GB RAM in all three
Being a newer device, it’s no surprise to see the Essential Phone playing home to a more advanced processor. Specifically, it’s powered by the Snapdragon 835 chip paired with 4GB RAM and a generous 128GB built-in storage.
Both Pixel phones use the same internal processing and memory power. That’s to say you’ll find the previous generation Snapdragon 821 chip inside, paired with 4GB RAM and either 32 or 128 GB built-in storage.
As for battery power, the Essential Phone seemingly has a reduced capacity compared to the larger Pixel. With a 3,040mAh capacity non-removable battery, it’s considerably less capacious than the 3,450mAh Pixel XL battery, but bigger than the 2,770mAh Pixel battery.
Like the Pixel phones, it’s compatible with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology, so all three phones can top up in speedy fashion.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Software
- Android Nougat on all three
- Pure experiance on all
The software experience on all three phones should be very close to identical. There’s no added bloatware on the Essential Phone and it will run Android when it launches later this year.
The only difference might be that the Google Pixel phones will likely be upgraded to Android O when that launches.
Essential Phone vs Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: Conclusion
From a hardware perspective, there are clear benefits to the Essential Phone. It’s built from a stronger metal, and has a bigger screen than either Pixel built in to a body that’s much smaller overall than either. For those aching for a frame-free phone experience, the Essential Phone looks ideal.
There are no clear software advantages, but by the time the Essential Phone is actually available in the third quarter of 2017, the next versions of the Google Pixel phones will probably be released.
Still, with a price of $699 in the States, it’s just about as expensive as a Pixel, but with a huge, breathtaking screen design and 128GB storage, it’s probably worth it.