Android co-founder Andy Rubin's The Essential Phone joins a crowded field of smartphones competing for the same Android enthusiast base of customers. Let's see how the Essential Phone compares to Apple's behemoth across the aisle, the iPhone 7.
Sizes aren't dramatically different, with the Essential Phone measuring 3-percent taller, 6-percent wider and 10-percent thicker.
The Essential Phone does, however, tip the scales at 34-percent heavier.
Rubin says the Essential Phone is sturdier than aluminum rivals like the iPhone, with its titanium frame and ceramic back.
Even if the Essential Phone can survive drops without the use of a case, it isn't designed to withstand exposure to water.
The Essential Phone joins a soon-to-be-crowded group of phones with minimal bezels. Apple will join that club later this year, but for now the iPhone 7 has plenty of bezel surrounding its screen – and an inferior screen-size-to-phone-size ratio.
The Essential Phone's QHD+ screen packs in the pixels much tighter, though Apple's focus on other details (contrast, white balance, brightness) makes iPhone screen quality often transcend by a wide margin what you'd expect from their pixel counts.
The Essential Phone runs Qualcomm's 2017 flagship chip, the Snapdragon 835.
The Essential Phone doubles the iPhone's RAM, but Apple is known for doing more with less in the RAM department (in terms of how specs translate into real-world performance).
The Essential Phone has a much bigger battery, but with many other factors weighing into actual battery life, you can only glean so much from this.
Apple had better include fast charging in its 2017 flagships: iPhones have fallen way behind in this respect.
Camera quality is also impossible to determine entirely from a spec sheet; this too will need to wait for reviews.
Camera aperture (rear)
Apertures, which can determine the quality of low-lit shots, are very similar.
Apple offers three different storage tiers, while Essential sticks with one generous 128 GB option.
Neither has expandable storage.
Essential Phone has a fingerprint sensor on its back, while the iPhone's lives inside its home button.
Like Apple, Essential sees the 3.5-mm headphone jack as a relic from the past.
The Essential Phone is supposed to launch with the latest version of Android Nougat – and apparently without the custom manufacturer skins often associated with non-Pixel/Nexus Android handsets.
You can reserve an Essential Phone pre-order now, with the first shipments scheduled to start in June.
Starting price (full retail)
At least on paper, the Essential Phone looks like a solid value compared to the iPhone 7 – with a much bigger screen, supposedly sturdier build and modular potential (which, right now, only includes a 360° camera). On the other hand, it's joining a group of phones already including the Google Pixel and OnePlus series that's targeting the same base of Android-enthusiast customers. And if you're invested in Apple's ecosystem and like the company's hardware-software synchronicity, it's hard to see the Essential Phone being enough to pry you away.
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