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Essential Phone - Camera Operation - Sprint Product Ambassadors

Sprint Product Ambassador

Hey Everyone!


I have been quite busy with life lately and I’ve neglected to post some blogs that I’m sure everyone is excited to read (or not?).  Here’s my second blog on the Essential Phone!


Today’s blog will focus on the camera, and the fact that I find it to be pretty good on the Essential, regardless of some of the feedback I have seen online.  No, it’s not as good as some of the other guys out there in the market, but I think it holds its own and does a fantastic job.


Camera Specs


First, let’s talk about the specs on the camera. According to Essential, the device contains “the world’s thinnest dual camera system built for a phone. It uses both color and monochrome sensors that can capture up to 200% more light than traditional phone cameras” (Essential, 2017 – LINK). In addition, the software and hardware has been optimized for low-light performance, allowing you to take amazing photos, even in the absence of overwhelming light!


The rear camera is a 13MP Dual RGB & True Mono camera.  It has a f/1.85 lens and IR laser focus assist. It can capture videos at 4K 30fps, 1080 60fps or 720 120fps. The front camera is 8MP with f/2.20 that can also shoot video at the same specs as the rear camera.  This makes for a great combination of cameras depending on how you want to use your device.


Accessing the Camera

The camera is easy to access. First, however, make sure you’ve updated the camera application in the Google Play Store, as one may be available depending on when you purchased/activated your device.  Essential has received a lot of feedback on its camera and is working to continuously provide updates to the software via the Play Store.


The camera should be on your main screen in the apps panel at the bottom by default.  You can also make getting to your camera even easier by enabling “Jump to Camera” in the settings of the device.  Simply go to Settings > Gestures > Jump to Camera and tap it to turn it on (switch will be green and to the right). This feature allows you to quickly double-tap the power button on the device to quickly launch the camera.  No need to fumble around with your application tray or list of applications to find the camera, especially when the photographic moment can be gone in an instant.


Simply tap the camera application or double-tap the power button and the camera will launch.  It’s pretty basic, and that’s the point.  It allows you to take great shots with minimal steps to ensure you take the best photo every time.


Camera App:

The camera app, as previously mentioned, is pretty basic in operation.  At the top of the screen you have (in order of left to right) Settings > Flash, HDR > Video Quality > Timer > Swap between cameras.  At the bottom you have a main row of buttons that enable to you record, take the shot, and see your recent photos in the gallery.  Just above that bar you have three options: Auto, Mono, and Slow-Mo.  Auto is a point and shoot option, Mono is the true monochrome mode, and slow-mo is for video capturing.


Here is what the camera looks like once you've opened it:

Screenshot (Nov 12_ 2017 8_52_16 PM).pngEssential Camera App


Disappointing note: The phone defaults to auto without a way to change it to manual. I prefer to use manual mode depending on the setting, and the phone doesn’t quite allow it in the software build I have today. I hope that this functionality comes later on, as this has become a convenient feature on other devices.  However, your mileage may vary, as this might not be something you prefer to fiddle with.


Tip: You can press and hold the photo capture button to take rapid burst shots that you can review later.  This allows you to capture moments quickly without much hesitation.


Camera: My thoughts + examples

I think the Essential camera, both its hardware and software, is solid for my needs. While I would appreciate having the ability to manually adjust photo settings, it provides the best quality via auto. The monochrome photos add a level of character to photos, and the true monochrome photos are gorgeous. I also think that the focus quality of the camera is great, as I am able to take close shots without trying to find the perfect distance from the object.


Here are some photos I took on my Essential:

IMG_20171029_133454.jpgMonochromeIMG_20171029_135435.jpgPumpkin Patch (auto)IMG_20171029_135452.jpgMonochromeIMG_20171029_205427.jpgLow light (Auto)IMG_20171029_205312.jpgLow light (Auto)IMG_20171029_135459.jpgMy little princesses (Monochrome)



Overall, I think the camera is solid and one that has met my needs in a smartphone camera. It could have more robust features, but it gets the job done as-is. The camera is not worthy of the negative reception it has received since launch, and I question exactly why it has received such a bad reception. Sure, I activated my device after the first official camera update, so that might have something to do with it. I will say that if you’re in the market for more robust features in a camera, you may check out the Play Store for additional applications that take full advantage of the camera hardware on the Essential.




As always, thank you for stopping by to read this!  What do you like most about the Essential Phone? What don’t you like?  Let me know in the comments below!


Troy Glidden

Service & Repair Manager

Portland, OR area

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The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. 

Until next time!


Sprint Product Ambassador

Beautifully captured photos!

Sprint Product Ambassador

Thank you @HungBui!!