Envisioned by Andy Rubin, the father of Android itself, and expertly crafted from a luxurious combo of ceramic, titanium, and Gorilla Glass, the PH-1 had the kind of pedigree you rarely see from a startup, let alone one that was trying to put out its first phone.
But when you look back, aided by the gift of hindsight, it’s clear there was no way Essential could have ever delivered on the hype, especially after a launch plagued by repeated delays, difficulty delivering orders, and unfinished software.
After multiple price drops have brought it down to $500 (£359; UK price and availability TBA) and ample time to update its software, the PH-1 is, essentially, a different phone now.
The PH-1 wasn’t really in the same class as those other flagships, to the point that using it as a comparison device didn’t make much sense.
But when I pulled it out about a week ago, I couldn’t help but think that the Essential still looks pretty good.
And in front, the cutout for the PH-1 8-MP selfie cam is both more stylish and less distracting than the iPhone X’s bloated notch—all while delivering a higher screen-to-body ratio than Apple’s handset too.