The Essential Phone makes me… happy!?! Yeah, I know weird.. happy about a new phone is an odd way of putting it. Maybe, it just feels good and makes me smile.
Look, I have an opportunity to trial tons of new handsets from utilitarian to flagship and yet somehow this Essential Phone with LESS tricks and gimmicks is my current favorite over all. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is (no pun intended).
I don’t know any other way to put it.. the haptic feedback on the Essential phone is.. delicious. No, you can't change the vibration intensity (yet), but I don't want to. It just has the perfect feel. I think part of the feedback feel is due to the solid body design with the titanium and ceramic.
Running a finger across the screen feels SO nice. It’s the nicest touch screen I’ve run my finger across to be honest… so smooth. My finger literally glides across the surface. I don’t use screen protectors any more. Just too much hassle and often times reduced responsiveness. So, with no screen protectors I can say when comparing this to say my S8+, the glass is just less 'tacky'.
Swype typing on the Essential PH-1 is a pleasure and I find it to be much more accurate than on any handset I’ve used thus far. That's pretty impressive.
Just 21 pre loaded apps
Snappy! OK, so I only just got this thing and barely loaded it up with Apps. I wanted a clean start – and what that means is a clean phone. Essential, not just a clever name… only comes with 21 ‘essential’ apps pre installed. 20 really, but with the version from Sprint you also get the Sprint account manager (My Sprint) which is the only carrier app on the device to track usage, pay bills etc. It's nice to be able to load what I want and it I like not having to go in to setting to shut off notifications from OEM and carrier bloat.
What else? A clean android experience. I’ve never used a Pixel/Nexus, so I had no clue what ‘stock’ android was really supposed to be. Now I do. It’s fast – blazing fast. Opening up the menu pull down from the top of the device is quick and not loaded with a trillion customization options. Sliding up from the bottom brings up the app tray snappy and fast too.
I know, nowadays people love all the additional options, but that isn’t what this device is really about. For example, my S8+ has 23 system options from the top pull down whereas the essential has 10 by default, and you know what? I really don’t need more than that.
Other options are still available in the settings menu for example the ability to turn on/off NFC, though anyone that uses NFC would probably argue they keep this on most of the time and not need to shut it off in a hurry.
Which by the way, if all that customization is important you can always go with a ‘launcher’ from the Play store rather than one that’s forced upon you by a device manufacturer. I’m just starting to understand that now. On the one hand you have the major custom ROMs by device manufactures and on the other (Nexus) a completely unblemished version of Android. Then there’s the Essential which leans more towards stock, but adds just the right amount of personalization to make you feel like it’s a unique experience.
I do agree at times it’s nice to have some of the manufacturer specific options and things we’re used to seeing (like Touchwiz/Saumsung Experience). I just hadn’t realized what I gave up in Android responsiveness in order to have the manufacturer specific Android mods.
I may have to test it out with a launcher at some stage just to see if it functions as fast as it feels now.
The default ringtone is nice and not obnoxious and I like the new unobtrusive text tone too.
It’s all google messaging with the latest version as well as google keyboard and ability to text with GIF’s etc.
My favorite feature so far? Home Screen Rotation! I haven’t seen a handset where the home screen turns! Almost all handsets don’t rotate the actual home screen, only the apps. I love the way the phone looks in landscape.
Essential in Landscape on the Home Screen
Call in Progress
The screen and colors are beautiful too. Granted I find it to be just slightly less bright than say the GS8+, but the colors seem to be more ‘authentic’ and realistic. By the way, for those reading… I think the S8 is an amazing device and I’m not knocking it in any way. Really, up until now I’ve been touting it as the best phone I’ve ever used. We’ll see how I feel about the Essential in the coming weeks to see if the ‘new car smell’ so to speak wears off and if I’m back to my love affair with the S8.
The screen looks awesome when on a call. Simple, clean and bright. Personally I like the camera at the top of the screen, rather than an unusable bar taking up part of he screen. Looks great with websites too. Haven't done video yet...
Additional things – Activation was a breeze on Sprint.com with exception of one additional step. After activating the device I needed to go to the dial pad and enter *#*#72786#*#* in order to have the device reset with the network (took a min) and it downloaded a new MR to the latest software version.Not a bad idea to do that upon activation for those reading.
The Sprint network has been excellent on this device with full bars and quick loads of streaming audio and web pages.
I’ve made a couple of calls so far. Using the handset to my ear and using on speaker phone has been a pleasant experience. The speaker is loud and clear. I did use the adapter for the headset using the Samsung S8 earbuds and was told there was a lot of ‘noise’, but so far that was with two calls.
This is early days so I’ll report back. So far I really really like this phone. It makes me happy.
Have questions/thoughts about the Essential? Let me know.
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. As a matter of fact 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. So what I'm really trying to say is, my opinions are my own. I am not a Sprint or Device Manufacturer spokesperson. I just love to play with new tech, talk smack and help people when I'm able. I also like to write/blog about tech. Hope you follow me here and feel free to comment. Thanks!!!