The Essential Phone is Seriously Underrated

– Hey, guys, this is Austin A few short months ago, one of the most hyped phones in years was announced

The Essential Phone promised top notch build quality, a clean build of Android and some seriously great cameras However, things weren't all that they were cracked up to be When it went on sale, there were some serious issues The camera was a borderline deal breaker It was lacking both water resistance as well as a headphone jack, and with a $700 price tag, the phone really just didn't get off the ground

Nothing shows this off better than the sales figures, which were reportedly less than 90,000 over the first year of the Essential Phone's life That my friends, that's not good, however, it's 2018 and the Essential Phone has actually gotten a lot better The first and biggest change is the price You can pick up the Essential Phone on Amazon right now for only $450 And that includes some other colors that weren't available at launch, including this pure white

Now, sure, when you look at this as a $700 phone, there are some issues, but at less than $500, nothing even comes close to touching the build quality here I'll even go farther than that This is one of the nicest builds on any phone, period So with that ceramic back, especially when you put it side by side with a glass-backed phone like the iPhone X, it really makes it look dull in comparison You do lose wireless charging, but in return, you're getting not only that look and feel but you're also going to be getting the extra durability of having that ceramic

It's not going to be for everyone, but personally, I absolutely love the way this looks and feels Come around to side of the phone and you'll see that it is made of titanium Now that's also something that you don't really exactly see on phones these days, and it gives it a nice feel in the hand Now what's interesting is, is that while a lot of flagships these days are going for a very rounded, sort of curved design, this is much more chunky, which I kind of like, you're making the best use of space inside the phone That same solid feel comes around to the buttons, which have a nice tactile click, as well as the machining on things like the USB-C port, as well as the speaker grill

No, it does not have stereo speakers, and no, it doesn't have the headphone jack, but there's a lot to really like about the hardware of this phone, and that's not even getting into the screen Come around front, and you'll find that 57 inch display with some of the thinnest bezels that we've seen yet Now, keep in mind, this phone has been out for a while Even phones like the iPhone X, as well as the Galaxy S9, can't quite match that super thin bezel, but they also can't match the notch

Yes, my friends, the Essential Phone was actually first when it comes to the notch, and personally, I actually like the way they do it here better than on the iPhone X It's just barely big enough to fit that front-facing camera, and everything else has been crammed into the tiny little bar above it, including the status LED, as well as your earpiece To be fair, the IPS panel on the Essential Phone can't quite match up to the awesome AMOLED displays on both the Galaxy S9 as well as the S8 and the iPhone X However, I'm really nitpicking at this point This is a very, very good display, especially when you consider the price

Sure, there's some minor things that I can nitpick So the plastic that surrounds the front glass on my unit is slightly imperfect There are a couple little places where it's not totally smoothed, and on the actual pixels themselves they come around not only the notch but as well as the rounded edges on the top of the display You can actually see that there are individual pixels that you can barely make out But this is really nitpicking, when you consider that this is a $450 phone, there's nothing to complain about

Unless of course, you want a headphone jack, in which case, sorry? Inside, you're getting pretty standard flagship specs The Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, as well as 128GB of storage, which is definitely helpful, considering that there's no microSD card slot I should expect everything is super snappy Now, a lot of this is thanks to Essential constantly updating their phone So I was pretty good with it first came out, they've consistently added updates to be able to smooth out things like the touch response in this, as well as the scrolling speed

But as you would expect, it's just as fast as pretty much any Android flagship at this point Now as far as the software side of things go, it's good but not perfect The biggest issue is that it is still running Android 71 Nougat Now, yes, Essential has said that they're working on an Oreo update, and hopefully that comes out soon, but as of right now, it's a very clean build, they slightly older version of Android

The good thing though is that when I say a clean build of Android, I mean it There's exactly zero bloatware of any kind Now there are some minor tweaks that Essential has done, mostly to actually support the notch, which is actually one of the more impressive parts It actually kind of works pretty well here Supported apps like Google Maps will flow around the front-facing camera, essentially, giving you that full screen experience, and even other apps that aren't fully supported by the notch are still going to give you access to your notifications, as well the system info, without really getting in the way

It's kind of like using a normal phone like that It's not an OLED display, so while the blacks are good, it doesn't quite fully blend in, although she does a pretty good job, but it's not that far off from something like the iPhone X, as far as using an app that is not supported Now one thing that's actually been very impressive that Essential has done is update the camera This thing is so much better than it used to be With a pair of 12 megapixel cameras around back, the hardware seems to be there, but it launched, the Essential camera was straight garbage town

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not exactly going to rival the Pixel, but it has gotten so much better than before Now, pretty much all that is thanks to Essential constantly releasing updates to improve the camera In fact, literally the day we're shooting this, it got another update, which not only improved a little bit of the performance, but also added some additional options in the camera app Provided that you had some decent light, the photos really aren't too bad Now the auto focus is still a little bit on the slow side, and one of the things I did notice is that while the image might not look that great on the preview, once you actually take a shot in this process, it typically does look a lot better, which is nice except that it'd be better to know exactly what your shots going to look like before you hit the shutter button

The portrait mode is also pretty decent now I will say that the blur can be a little strong sometimes, and like all the systems, it's not going to be perfect at cutting you out from the background, but it's not that far behind something like the Galaxy S9 or the iPhone X, and again, it is going to be much, much less expensive And that's really where I come down on the Essential Phone When it first launched at $700, there were some legitimately really big problems The lack of waterproofing, the battery life, which is only okay, and the camera were big problems

But now that a lot of these things have been addressed, and it's got a huge price cut, I think a lot of people would be really happy with the Essential Phone So, if you want to join 90,000 other people who have a phone that no one else has ever heard of, the Essential Phone really is worth a look So I'm curious, what do you guys think about the phone? Especially in 2018, I think it's gotten a lot better, but let me know what you think in the comments below, and I will catch you in the next one

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