CNET First Look
Why the Essential Phone is kind of a big dealWe went hands-on with the phone launched by the guy who helped make Android.
What is it that makes the Essential Phone essential? Well, for the company, that would be its clean, simple build, and the two tiny divots on the back that connect to magnetic accessories. This is a lot like Motorola's Moto Z phones, except there are only two contacts here instead of a whole row. So there's more freedom over the shape and placement of the accessory. Basically the connectors are just there to hold the module in place and power the device, but the data itself transfers wirelessly. This is a new approach and it's a pretty neat one, too. Right now there's only one accessories, a 360 degree camera, but Essential wants to make a bunch of them so you can collect them all. Here's a fun fact. Essential is led by Andy Ruben, who's wildly considered the father of Google's Android operating. Exist. So though the Essential phone is strictly in start up mode for now, it's kind of a big deal. Even beyond the modules, the Essential phone is reaching for premium status. There's a 5.7 inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass five and slim [INAUDIBLE] The body is a beautiful slab of titanium with a ceramic backing. It's really reflective though, and a huge fingerprint magnet. So you've been warned. The whole design really has a minimal look that reflects Theme of purity and essence. There's no headset jack here, but you do get an adapter in the box, along with a reinforced charger cable, and both of those are nice touches. There's an 8 megapixel camera on the front. Which might seem weird at first. All there looking like a cyclops in the middle of the screen and all, but it's actually really handy placement for selfies since you don't have to look off to the side like you do with some phones. And that notch you see does not actually cover up notifications either. On the back, you have a dual 13 megapixel camera, one with a color lens in one, that enhances images with black and white shots and of course you can take black and white pictures to. What's weird, though, is that the camera app has very few controls. For example, you can only add filters in editing mode, and you won't be able to manually adjust things like white balance. There's also no portrait mode for now, but Essential says it's coming. There is however, a fast processor, a lot of storage and a very, very clean version of Android Nougat 7.1.1 Which is something that purists will love. The Essential phone is an interesting device, but it's also very much a first generation product that will have a lot to prove as the ecosystem develops and grows.