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The Essential Phone is great! It makes me… happy!?!

Sprint Product Ambassador
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 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. 
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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. 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!!!


Anyone have an idea as to when Sprint will push update NMJ20D out for this device? It has many important updates including the WiFi bug protection (Krack) and the October Android security updates. It was released to the unlocked versions 6 days ago.

Sprint Product Ambassador
Hi @PHILFIGUEROA05 It's usually within 1-2 weeks from initial roll out for Sprint to approve. The last update came out within less than 2 weeks of the Essential update. So, shouldn't be too much longer now. Regards, Rick

Great, thanks for a general idea!


I really want to love this phone, but there are a couple of issues that bother me:


The first is that I get about 12 Db worse signal than the HTC One A9 that it replaced - - both on LTE and WiFi. I used to get a weak but usable LTE signal at my office desk. Now I get barely usable 3G. I also used to get a reasonable 5Ghz. Wifi signal - - now I am stuck on 2.4 which is much slower. Looking at LTE Discovery, it looks like the Essential is consistently 10-15 Db worse than the HTC; I also find it roaming on Verizon more often than before. Is anyone else experiencing this with Sprint? 


Secondly - - I have tried numerous ways to get Sprint Voicemail loaded onto this thing, to no avail. It is unacceptable to me that any phone in 2017 would ship without a visual voicemail app. This has been standard for years now. Is there a way to get Visual Voicemail to work? I've read about workarounds with Google Voice, but I'd really like the standard Sprint voicemail app to just work.


Again - - I'd love to really love this phone... The hardware is fantastic... The camera has gotten better.... But if the reception sucks that's a pretty major concern. The Visual Voicemail is something that I just assumed was standard these days...




Well I think it may be relative to where you live? I live in the out part of Los Angeles County CA. I had the HTC M9 before I purchased the Essential phone. The two phones are like night and day here locally. My standard speed on LTE with the HTC was around ~25-30 Mbps. Service was subpar around many areas and randomly went into Verizon roaming in high traffic areas. No service in my job since it was underground and hardly stayed connected to my home and work WiFi. The Essential phone has reversed all issues. Great service almost everywhere, connects to LTE+ with speeds over ~65 Mbps and no WiFi connection issues anywhere. This phone even gets LTE service at times underground in my workplace. So I think it's where you live... Not the device.


And as for voicemail, I've been a Google Voice user across 4 phones since Sprint offered the Nexus 5 in 2013. I'd recommend you trying it out. I've never gone back to my Sprint voicemail as GVoice runs circles around their service in almost every way.

Sprint Product Ambassador

I have to agree with @PHILFIGUEROA05 on this one. I'm in NYC and have had nothing but excellent speeds and service on this handset. I'm inclined to think it's where you live/work that might be the issue pulling in signal on this device. 

By chance, have you gone into your network settings to see what's active? I found mine was set for everything under the sun (which also had an impact on my battery). Once I changed it to CDMA/LTE it used less resources and was quite consistent. 

Also, you may want to try a network refresh on your device. It won't delete anything personal, but will reset the network settings.  

On the phone dial pad, press *#*#72786#*#*.

* Read the Warning prompt then tap YES

* The phone clears previous internal programming information and turns phone off then back on

* Device activation begins


As for Visual voicemail... I get it. I know what you mean, but you have to keep in mind Visual Voicemail is a carrier specific app seen by 'Essential' as bloatware. They are very picky about what they will allow on the handset. With that said, I know it doesn't help fix the issue. There are other 'non-free' visual voicemail apps out there, or Google Voice as you mentioned. 

I set up Google Voice for the Essential and I like it. It did take a bit of jumping through hoops to set up though. 




Another question, I purchased an unlocked White Essential ph-1 directly from Essential since they are way cheaper from them. Can I pop my SIM from my Sprint PH1 into the unlocked one and use each one whenever I feel like it? I know with GSM networks (TMO and ATT) you can do this. Does Sprint make you jump through hoops to do the same on their Network? 

Sprint Product Ambassador

Hi @PHILFIGUEROA05, Unfortunately at this time you can't just pop in the SIM and run. A swap is fairly easy on the Sprint website though. Just go to update the phone and add your new device. Keep the old phone off during the process. 

This isn't just 'Sprint', but all CDMA carriers at the moment (VZ) as far as I understand.  Pretty sure when things go pure LTE this could be different, but for now, you'll have to swap to provision with the systems. 


Hope that answers your question. 


When will Sprint be releasing the Android 8.1 update that was just sent out to the unlocked Essential phones last week!

Sprint Product Ambassador

Good question - I'd imagine it's coming soon. Usually the carrier version comes out within 2 weeks... more or less for all the other Essential updates that came out. 



Hopefully. Would be nice to have some of the small glitches ironed out .Still love this phone!