Despite being a new brand, the Essential PH-1 has a rather hefty price tag of $699. The price, the build quality, and the specs show the Android co-creator aims to sweep into the premium segment of the market. Will the Essential be able to stand its ground against the Mastodons - Apple and Samsung? Let’s try to find out, shall we?
Display and build
The PH-1 follows the latest trend and sports an edge-to-edge bezel-less display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Screen-wise, the phone is about as good as the iPhone 7 and the S8. It actually falls into the phablet category, with a 5.71-inch screen, with an unusual 19:10 aspect ratio. The display is an eye candy, thanks to the 2560x1312 resolution. The slim design makes the phone as big as 5.5 inches, which means it’s noticeably smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus. Another great thing about it, the Essential is rocking a titanium body with a ceramic back, rather than aluminum or glass that we see on the phones from Apple and Samsung.
When we say the PH-1 follows the trend, we also mean the questionable abandonment of the 3.5 mm port. The Essential comes with an USB-C > mini jack adapter, but it’s hardly a too convenient solution for people with wired headphones. One of the features where the smartphone loses to the competitors is the lack of water or dust resistance. By the way, there’s a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, but that’s expected.
An expensive phone should have the top of the line specifications and performance. Thankfully, the PH-1 does. It runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The performance is expected to be similar to the S8 since the hardware is pretty much the same. The Samsung is the only phone out of the three that has a microSD slot. The iPhone 7 Plus only has 3GB of RAM and a quad-core A10 chipset, but it’s a completely different ecosystem, where optimization makes up for weaker specs.
The PH-1 has a 3040mAh battery that supports the fast charging feature as well as wireless charging, which owners will have to buy separately. Even though the battery is smaller than Samsung’s 3400 mAh in the S8 plus, but modern smartphones seem to be able to last a day or maybe 36 hours tops per charge with medium to heavy use. Same goes for the iPhone 7 plus.
People praise both the iPhone 7 and the S8 for their cameras, which reviewers say take the best pictures. Essential’s sensor sounds great on paper, though the actual testing will be done later. The phone sports a 13MP dual camera on the back, and the 8MP front sensor. The rear-facing camera can record 4K video at 30 fps, 1080p at 60, and 720p at 120. The same goes for the front camera.
What can potentially make the Essential a versatile device, is that it supports a 360-degree camera. The separately bought device attaches to the back of the phone quickly and easily. Owners can also use it to shoot 360-degree 4K video at 30 frames per second.
Overall impressions and availability
All in all, the Rubin’s Essential is a really interesting device, with great specifications and beautiful design. It comes in four colors: black moon (glossy back), stellar gray (matte back), pure white (glossy) and absolutely gorgeous ocean depths (glossy green with bronze sides). It is currently only available in the United States and is up for pre-order for $699. The manufacturer offers a version bundled with the detachable 360-degree camera for $749. It’s not clear when the phone will launch in other regions.