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Essential Phone Review Re-Do [November 2017]

Essential Phone Review Re-Do [November 2017]

– [Voiceover] I normally
like to wait at least a year to re-review a phone, but Essential changed everything
when it slashed the price of its namesake flagship by $200, barely two months after launch, transforming an overpriced
smartphone with a terrible camera into a genuine bargain
with a terrible camera. Let’s find out if the deep discount makes the picture more palatable, in Mr. Mobile’s review re-do
of the Essential phone, brought to you by Thrifter. (lively pop music) Since I first reviewed the
Essential phone in August, the company has swapped out my review unit for a final retail version. There’s no detectable difference here, this is the same hunk
of ceramic and titanium, pleasantly free of logos
and quite heavy in the hand. That’s a compliment. To say it feels expensive
is an understatement. It reminds me of those
oversized poker plaques casinos reserve for
the high stakes tables. And because of its durable materials, it seems likely to age
a lot more gracefully than its aluminum and glass competition. Its 16 by nine LCD is
not very fashionable, doesn’t get nearly bright
enough in sunlight, but the rest of the phone makes up for it. And just like with the
iPhone X, I love the notch! Fight me. I don’t love the myth that
sprung up around this phone with regard to the camera, though. Since literally the week of release, people have been saying, “Those
camera problems are no more, “they got fixed by a software update!” Now, to Essential’s credit, this phone has received a great
many updates since launch, and I’ll talk more
about those in a second, but the camera app is still
sluggish and unreliable. What’s worse is this app
is the only way to control Essential’s 360 camera
add-on, which, like the phone, is an exquisite little piece
of hardware brilliance. It takes up almost no space in a pocket, snaps on magnetically, it even has a tiny internal fan to protect its insides from overheating. But, since it depends on
that camera app to work, (sighs) I mean, sometimes it won’t even take a photo on the first attempt, and if you make the mistake of quitting back to the home screen
before it’s done saving, you lose the photo. Again, it’s not the 360 camera’s fault, these are the same
problems I experience using the built-in camera
alongside the old issue of turning the flash on for no
reason when you turn HDR on, and occasionally just
saving a wall of green instead of the photo you took. If this were the only
camera app available, I’d say pack it in right here, because no amount of discount
is worth this frustration, but, fortunately, two
things save this phone from the scrap heap. First, there’s nothing wrong
with the camera hardware. And second, there are smart
people on the internet, some of whom figured out how
to run Google’s HDR+ camera app on the Essential phone. The results are night and day. Literally every picture
I’ve taken with Google’s app has been superior to the Essential app’s. It was so obvious after such a short time that I very quickly stopped
taking side by side photos and began to rely exclusively
on the Google camera app, which you can map to a
double-click of the power button, just like on other Android phones. Now remember, this is a
hack, so it’s a little hanky, and also the camera doesn’t
have optical stabilization, so your videos aren’t gonna be as smooth as on better-equipped phones. But now that the Essential
phone isn’t priced the same as those high-end phones, and now that I don’t have to
use its terrible camera app, these shortcomings are forgivable. It’s no exaggeration to say that, for me, the Google camera app
single-handedly saves this device. I mentioned frequent updates before, and Essential really does
deserve a lot of credit here. Since launch, I’ve lost count of the
number of OTAs I’ve gotten. Some of them have enabled features like using the fingerprint sensor
as a notification track pad, while others have kept
the phone up-to-date with latest security fixes. No sign of either Android Oreo
or a proper night mode yet, but Essential maintains
that it’s working on both for release in the coming weeks. Also, I have noticed apps
crashing on this phone more often than on
others, which is annoying. Even the excellent hardware
isn’t immune to defects. Reddit has stories about some early fabric speaker
grills popping out, so Essential is apparently
fitting some units with metal mesh instead. I’m more concerned with
an issue I don’t often see in phones anymore: weak reception. My testing on T-Mobile has shown that this phone is more likely to drop calls, and less able to maintain a
connection in fringe areas. My comparison devices were
a Moto X4 and an iPhone X. I’m not really able to diagnose
this problem very well, but others have also reported it, so if you live in a fringe area, you might wanna give this a pass. Also, my unit has some
electronic interference in the earpiece. It’s very slight, but once you notice it, it’s annoying in a quiet room. In my official review, I said using this device felt like using a Kickstarter
reward, or a beta phone. And that holds true today. It’s no more a $700 experience today than it was back in August. But, now that you can get it for $500, or even 450 in the deal
I’ll link to in a second, well that changes everything. For the same price, a OnePlus 5 will still
give you fewer headaches, but if standout design is the thing that gets your ringtone singing, the Essential phone’s new price definitely puts it in the running. You can snap up an
Essential phone for $450 by visiting today’s sponsor. Thrifter is a new way to
save money on everything from gadgets to home goods
by shopping based on value, and not hype. Click the link in the description to get all the leaked ads and the
best deals for Black Friday, as well as that $450 Essential phone and mint sim combo deal at thrifter.com. If you bought an Essential phone, or you’re thinking of buying one, I wanna hear your thoughts. Drop ’em in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to
The Mr. Mobile on YouTube and Instagram, with new
videos dropping every week. Until next time, thanks for watching, and stay mobile, my friends.

100 comments found

  1. I'll say this. If devs were as quick to make all their apps compatible with this phone (aka utilizing the entire screen for all apps) as they were with iPhone X, i'd buy it. There's no point in having a big beautiful screen if apps stop utilizing it at a certain point and it just becomes a box for your status bar. pointless. no different from other phones. I guess i'll be going with the Pixel 2 XL. I really wanted to like this phone.

  2. Thanks for pointing the camera and the Google camera port improved it. The camera was the biggest thing holding me back from buying it and seeing you use the same camera port I use and it is better, gives me more reason to get the essential

  3. I don't understand the hate to this phone. I own this phone and the pixel 2 and this phone is awesome. Camera is not fast at the pixel 2 but is no bad camera take very good pictures. Any mobile phone have low point so stop the hate Andy r do good job .

  4. I just got the essential ph-1 I love the phone I don't do pics alot and I'm not a camera activist so overall it's better than the Huawei ascend xt2 I had before or the zte 3/4 inch phone from KitKat days

  5. Bought mine from Amazon within a few days of the price reduction. Unfortunately I dropped mine 2 days later while waiting for a case 🙄 The screen is no Moto Z Force2 screen. Essential has offered to replace phone for $199.

  6. The camera has been greatly improved yes isn't the best camera but for the price this phone is unbeatable honestly,good video review,cheers.

  7. So that's why this went on for sale at $275 usd in canada for black friday sale. Got one myself but now wondering if I should've gone for S7 at a same price..

  8. I have been using my device for 2 weeks now and I dont have any of those problems. The camera Works perfectly fine no lag nothing.

  9. I'm very happy with my essential phone and the Oreo beta is damn near daily driver ready. Are there drawbacks yes but at this lower price point it's almost…. essential 😁

  10. First I decided to buy this phone for my brother. After I got it, decided to test it for a couple of days. In 2 days I already knew – I would buy the same for myself.
    So let's first speak about cons of this phone because there only few of those.
    -No headphone jack. Well, this is the way chosen for smartphones and in 1-2 years I doubt whether you will be able to get a flagship phone with headphone jack.
    – no stereo sound. Personally i don't listen music without headphones so i don't care about that.
    – No water resistance . Yeah that's a disadvantage but there is no ideal phone, is it?
    – no memory slot card. I think that 128 GB is enough for everything.
    Well that's it I guess, in fact for me important is only water resistance out of those.
    Now let's speak about advantages of this phone. Oooh here we have a lot:
    + Hardware of the flagship phone
    + 4 GB of RAM DDR4
    + Snapdragon 835
    + 128 Gb storage
    + Good quality camera. Yeah it is not the best in the world but it has dual system, portrait mode, 12 Mp. front 8Mp, Monochrome mode, slow mo caption etc.
    + Great screen ratio! (almost invisible bazzels)
    + fast performance
    + fast updates
    + Stock Android – one of the best features!
    + Best design in the world! Yes it really is! After you keep this phone in your hand you won't want to take all those plastic or aluminium phones anymore. It is made out of Titanium + ceramic. It feels really expensive premium phone. No logo at all! Minimalism is the future.
    + Price! You can get it from the official website for $499 unlocked. You can easily get it from Ebay for $450 new in original box, never opened.
    Do you still doubt whether this phone is worth of its money?

  11. Thanks for the honest straight forward re-review. I'm going to take a chance on this one now based on this video. I'd like to see a company like Essential succeed, in a time when even Google is putting out lackluster devices that encroach on the $1K mark depending on the options you choose. I almost think the idea of the company (essential) is necessary, considering the poor results I have experienced this last year. I have rifled through the Nexus 6P (call quality issues which turned out to be a design flaw and no software fix), the Note 7 (fire hazard), the LG V10 (not sure where to start with that one), the LG V20, (baaaaaaad overlay on a decent phone from a hardware perspective), the Samsung S8+ (decent phone, but necessary to factory reset every few months because of their overlay bogging down the OS), and the Pixel 2 (couldn't update to latest OTA security patches on AT&T because they don't care about unlocked phones at all, and I was therefore stuck with the bluetooth connectivity issues). I am not a big camera snob, and I would choose Google's camera app anyway, so this seems like a good option. Also, you can't deny the deal that Sprint has for this phone right now, and it's still an unlocked phone if purchased through them!

  12. Thanks for the update Bro, you are Spot On with this review as of today, 12-03-2017:

    Again, this is my take on this phone for what it is worth ….

    1. The software is buttery smooth at this time due to updates;

    2. What is the lousy Rap about the Earphone jack? The adapter combo DAC that comes with the USB C adapter is an outstanding, flexible, and impressive sounding accessory. Just think of it as a 3in. Extension of your cord and leave it plugged into your earbuds and take care of it, so as it will not get lost.

    One more thing, you know if you use a male to male extension wire you can play your Spotify Music at extreme quality levels and be the "Head In" for a 1,000 watt home stereo system. Try that and see how it sounds. There is a Hugh difference in the listening experience. The wire cost you a couple of bucks to try out.

    3. Due to recent updates on the camera's software, the camera now provides an upper-end point and shoot experience at this time. I recommend one install the free Adobe Express App as it integrates "Seamlessly" into the stock software during the post editing phase to finish polishing up your pics if you want too.

    4. Please Stop a minute and see the forest for the trees. This phone could be the last phone you ever purchase as for the most part it future proof. This phone OS is wide open and its a real Sleeper of a Phone. Within a few months, it's owners at that time will pull up next to a stop light and Samsungs and Apple high rollers will make lite of it one too many times. When the stop light goes Green, The Essential Phone, by that time, will have morphed into a Hot Rod Sleeper device that will blow the doors of the 700 to 1,000 multi-billion dollar Corporate phones leaving them in amazement. How will it be able to do this you may ask?

    5. The essential open source community will make this happen. There are signs of it already. Example, Android O already installable on this phone by its Geek leading edge initial following and Andy quietly let it happen on the sidelines.

    6. You are kind of right saying this phone is not for folks that just want to use it ideally out of the box.

    7. This phone is best served for the mid-level to an advanced crowd that loves the fact that They have "Power in the hands of the Few!

    8. Take a leap of faith save some bucks and jump on Andy's Essential Phone Train so you won't be left at the station.

  13. I've seen so many comments about how great this camera is after all those updates. It's good to hear an opinion from someone that's gonna say it like it is weather you like it or not.

  14. I really want a oneplus 5t, but it doesn't support CDMA and my parents pay for my network so it isn't like I have a choice

  15. I personally own the essential phone and yeah there are a few hiccups here and there but overall I love the phone. I bought mine for only $360 and for that price the phone is incredible. Of course I personally don’t really take photos and I’m more of a texter than a caller 😂

  16. I have an essential phone and I love it, I got rid of my iPhone X because I like this phone so much better!!! I have a few quirks now and then but what phone doesn't have that and I've had hundreds of them!! I would absolutely love to be a phone reviewer I switch phones off and enough every time something new comes out I'm one of the first to have it granted I don't wait in line or anything I just always build connections to get it!

  17. I can also tell you this much here in Iowa in Des Moines Best Buy can't even keep the essential phone in stock it's selling like hotcakes

  18. Yeah the camera is not as great as I would like but the in hand feel the build is on point and headphone jack I could care less because I use a Bluetooth speaker so no wires I'd rather have no wire but I personally like the phone one of the best phones ive had at 128 gigs with the price drop I think it's worth it the software is good too

  19. I have the Essential Phone. It really is nice. It has two problems; speed and camera. But I rooted it and sideloaded the Pixel camera. Now it's snappy and has an amazing camera. I am going to keep it like this for the customization but the official OTA for Oreo should fix this phones problems.
    If I didn't have Verizon I probably would go for the 5T with 8 gigs Ram or a Razer tbh. But I still love my Essential.

  20. I bought my Essential PH1 Black Moon on December 6 from Best Buy for $499 and since purchased the updates have been coming so fast I lost count. Premium hardware, stock Android software and with the great battery life I love this phone. I don't have any bad issues with my phone.

  21. I don't understand something they aimed this as a Google phone with Google app. Why in the world would you put am essential app instead of keeping it Google camera app.

  22. It seems only fan girls care about the camera. I just want to know how long does the battery lasts and about Bluetooth connection. Essentially

  23. I'd be more concerned about the lackluster screen. Lack of brightness. Not AMOLED. No solution to those problems ever and in todays market these are becoming a must. I suspect essential will release a new phone in < 6mo. Then it will be interesting if they even bother with the PH-1 again.

  24. I just got this phone from Sprint for $5 a month for 18 months I can't find the essential phone camera gallery. I signed into my Google account and the photos are being stored there. Does this phone have a photo gallery starting to wish I would have took the S8 Samsung deal

  25. You'll have to revisit this one again, I suspect, as Essential seems to be committed to fixing as much as they can through software.

    I'm a bit intrigued about the reception issue, since my PH-1 often shows much lower signal than my previous phones, and yet in practice it tends to work a LOT better. Certain parts of the house I'd have to leave it sitting in just the right area, whereas the Essential, which shows a lower signal quality in those same areas, works absolutely fine.

    I got mine for less than $400 and at that price it's a steal. I love the way it feels, it feels so much better than most phones I've held. I think maybe one day they'll fix the camera app, but if not, it's nice to know that there's still alternatives. Really good phone at $500, absolutely great phone at $400 or less. Which, by the way, is pretty easy to find.

  26. Wow the space gray iPhone X looks so good under that lighting !
    I hope the stellar gray Essential phone will look as good

  27. why did Essential waste resources on man-hours developing a separate camera app instead of just providing a Nexus-like experience? Enough economic resources were used with the material choices… I hope somebody understands my point.

  28. It definitely looks very classy. Titanium trim with infinity display and good camera hardware. In fact I had considered buying this phone when I was in the US 2 months ago but had let it go as I bought a different phone.

  29. The essential phone has a beautiful design. They just need to tweak a few things. Essential PH2 might be the android phone to get.

  30. @MrMobile I'm in need of a phone I may leave iOS, I'm thinking the axon m, essential, or the razor and maybe the pixel 2, what would you recommend?

  31. Tell me, might you know if this Google Camera app you mention, can be used to overcome the Honor 8 limitation of not being able to take B+W(monochrome) photos (actually using only the monochrome sensor, not some filter afterwards). Would be much appreciated if anyone knows.

  32. I'm still on a Nexus 6 haha. Why? Because I love stock android. The pixels aren't stock android sorry a skin is a skin but I might get this and sideload the Google pixel camera app. There is no branding, nice design and it runs stock android 😀

  33. Been using one of these puppies for a little over a week, now. The bare essentials (hah!) are decent, in that I do suffer from network disconnects from time to time. Oddly enough, my network strength improves when I leave my house's suburban area and go for my workplace's desolate stretch of highway. Not being anywhere closer to a gigabit tower, I don't know how that's possible. Being a Canadian living on Montreal's south shore who also doesn't need to enter the metro area to work, I'd expect my cellular reception to stay in the middle range – not improve the further away I go.

    No dropped calls, though. I'll just pull this out of my pocket or my desk's drawer and find that my LTE bar's gone to shit. Switching Airplane mode on and off seems to help.

    Performance-wise, I'm upgrading from an iPhone 6. I'm an Apple burnout who's still a bit flabbergasted by Android's flexibility, so to have that paired with the PH-1's overall horsepower is satisfying. I wouldn't call myself a mobile gamer, but I do enjoy the way a bit of tweaking pares the visual fluff down to almost nothing on Android. What little games I do enjoy on the go (The Room and its sequels, Hearthstone, Ticket to Ride) all run flawlessly, The Room looking especially sharper here than on my iPhone 6. Hearthstone seems to pack all of the PC version's little visual bells and whistles, and runs notably more smoothly. For everything else, the added screen real-estate is hugely appreciable. The recent addition of a Night mode (more accurately, the option to dim the backlight after certain hours) honestly makes the PH-1 run up against my Kindle in terms of late-night bedside reading.

    The camera's obvious cons are, well, obvious. Low-light shots are grainy, medium-light scenes are fairly muddy, and the camera's blended optics only really fare well in clear sunlight. The hardware pulls darker blacks from the B&W camera, which is appreciated, but it doesn't always compensate on the other end of the spectrum. Some pics have turned out quite well, but it's only at the favor of the local lighting conditions. It seems to me like Essential's hardware team didn't check the full gamut of camera usage situations before designing both the hardware and native software. A sideloaded Google Pixel Camera APK solves the issue *partially*, but adjusting the color balance doesn't really detract from the hardware's overall lack of responsiveness. As to whether it's software or hardware-based, I can't say.

    If you're a shutterbug or an Instagram addict, you'd better look elsewhere. If you're looking for something to briefly snag a vid or two or are the type to stick to the yearly collection of drunken Christmas pics, however, the PH-1's camera does the job quite well. I'll still mention that if photos do matter that much to you, what the Hell are you doing using a smartphone? Pack a feature-rich DSLR and give those vanity shots the attention they deserve!

    Otherwise, I've no gripes that Mr. Mobile or the other tech reviewers out there haven't covered. The lack of a headphone jack is a stupid industry-wide trend I find utterly baffling. In a perfect world, Apple's "daring" decision should've hurt them financially and would've resulted in lost sales. As The Ecosystem matters more to some folks than practicality and Apple seems to stick to comparatively small missteps, this obviously isn't the case. Google Assistant still isn't entirely reliable in Quebec's French dialect, so I've taken to setting my phone up in English. Usability and flexibility goes up, and my relatives' cultural pride takes a hit. This thing also seems built like an Abrams tank, the premium feel here resulting into a kind of stylishly functional ruggedness I appreciate. I've never dropped a phone before, but clumsy cable disconnects resulting in a corner of the device banging against the bedside table or my desk's corner have happened. No scuff marks, no bumps, no dents. Nothing except plenty of fingerprint marks, which is a laughably small issue.

    I do highly recommend it considering its current Canadian price point, but photo enthusiasts need not apply. The essentials, according to Essential (hur hur) are performance, looks and stability. Snapping pics as a frequent activity clearly isn't on their list of priorities – and that's with the 360 camera dongle taken into consideration.

  34. I got a better deal I got mine for free traded a Samsung j7 found the camera update again running Oreo awesome phone

  35. Lol seen this video several times, both before AND after I finally purchased this baby over a month ago and still crack up at that intro…met u at the Mobile Nations Reader Meetup and we laughed over the cam, still haven't done the hack🤔, but overall still love it!!

  36. T-Mobile is the problem not the phone. T-Mobile is a outside only network. Use a reliable service like Sprint, att, or Verizon

  37. I like how when an Android user gets an update they are excited because it doesn't happen much, but when an iOS user gets an update, they are just annoyed because it takes up their time playing Angry Birds.

  38. I just got one for $250 on prime day. It has android oreo now. Fingers crossed it has improved! UPDATE: I returned it. Signal on T-Mobile just was aweful for me even on all of the newest updates. Too bad, I really liked it.

  39. Hi Michael, can you rere-do the review on the Essential now that it runs Android P ? Now 269$ on Amazon – bonkers

  40. will you do one final review now that it has the Pie update and it's price has dropped exponentially since the original release?

  41. We're about at the 1 year mark. Any chance on a re-redo for this on Android Pie, the upgraded camera app, and the reports of extended battery life on Pie?

  42. Oooh, will we get a re-re-review since this phone is a neat example of an older phone being current with software?

    I just bought one a few days ago, (for $288 brand new) and it's AMAZING.

  43. A year later and the company has basically gone belly up. Sad. Loved this phone but the fact that I kept losing service where my Pixel XL would have near full bars was what made me go back to the Pixel.

  44. I picked this up after the first price cut then picked up an additional one for 220 back in August. Then scooped another one up at Best Buy for 374…my point being at less than 400 bucks it's a far better device than a lot of top end mid rangers. Great content as always. I enjoy the fact that you give opinions based on your experience as a user not simply rambling off a spec sheet and singing praises like a compensated endorser. Keep it up Michael!

  45. 2:55 now I’ve never had a need for taking low light photos because I can just try to turn on a light or wait a little till the sun come out, but I’d say the essential PH-1 has a better app in that regard right..?

  46. I'm upgrading from a Note 4 to this, got a hell of a deal on Ebay that i couldn't pass up. I have had nothing but terrible experiences with T-mobile in my area, so I'm more inclined to think the issue is with T-mobile than with the phone. Have you tried different networks in the same place?

  47. I'm watching this video on my Essential PH1 running Android Q beta 3 and this phone is still relevant in 2019. I've had no issues since buying this device fully unlocked back in 2017 and I hope there's a PH2 coming out.

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