Essential Phone Review Re-Do [November 2017]

I normally like to wait a year to give a smartphone the old “review re-do” treatment, but this is a special case. The Andy Rubin-led tech startup Essential changed everything when it slashed the price of its namesake flagship by $200 barely two months after launch. The price drop from $699 to $499 instantly transformed an overpriced phone with a terrible camera into a genuine bargain … with a terrible camera. Yes, the Essential Phone’s optics continue to be a sore spot even after a 28% price cut – but as with most things Android, there’s a hack for that. Let’s find out if the deep discount combined with a little sideloading can make the Essential Phone a winner, in MrMobile’s Essential Phone Review Re-Do, brought to you by Thrifter!


MrMobile’s Essential Phone Review Re-Do is brought to you by Thrifter. Thrifter is a new way to save money on everything from gadgets to home goods by shopping based on value (and not hype). Get all the leaked ads, discount analysis and the best deals for Black Friday — as well as that $450 Essential Phone and MintSIM combo deal — at the following links:

Thrifter Black Friday Deals 2017:

Thrifter Essential Phone $450 Deal:


Portions of this review were filmed at Aldo’s Coffee Company, Greenport NY:


MrMobile’s Essential Phone Review Re-Do was produced following several weeks with a retail PH-1 review device provided by Essential. The device was tested on T-Mobile US and AT&T between Greater Boston, New York City, and rural Long Island. It was paired with an LG Watch Sport for a portion of the testing, and received several updates during the review period.


Google Camera with HDR+ Ported to Other Devices [XDA]:

Signal Spy app [Play Store]:


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“E-Business” by Olive Musique, available at Premium Beat:


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There are 26 comments

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  1. Azfer Siddiqui

    I have been using my device for 2 weeks now and I dont have any of those problems. The camera Works perfectly fine no lag nothing.

  2. Alex Rybkovsky

    First I decided to buy this phone for my brother. After I got it, decided to test it for a couple of days. In 2 days I already knew – I would buy the same for myself.
    So let's first speak about cons of this phone because there only few of those.
    -No headphone jack. Well, this is the way chosen for smartphones and in 1-2 years I doubt whether you will be able to get a flagship phone with headphone jack.
    – no stereo sound. Personally i don't listen music without headphones so i don't care about that.
    – No water resistance . Yeah that's a disadvantage but there is no ideal phone, is it?
    – no memory slot card. I think that 128 GB is enough for everything.
    Well that's it I guess, in fact for me important is only water resistance out of those.
    Now let's speak about advantages of this phone. Oooh here we have a lot:
    + Hardware of the flagship phone
    + 4 GB of RAM DDR4
    + Snapdragon 835
    + 128 Gb storage
    + Good quality camera. Yeah it is not the best in the world but it has dual system, portrait mode, 12 Mp. front 8Mp, Monochrome mode, slow mo caption etc.
    + Great screen ratio! (almost invisible bazzels)
    + fast performance
    + fast updates
    + Stock Android – one of the best features!
    + Best design in the world! Yes it really is! After you keep this phone in your hand you won't want to take all those plastic or aluminium phones anymore. It is made out of Titanium + ceramic. It feels really expensive premium phone. No logo at all! Minimalism is the future.
    + Price! You can get it from the official website for $499 unlocked. You can easily get it from Ebay for $450 new in original box, never opened.
    Do you still doubt whether this phone is worth of its money?

  3. Luke Sykes

    Thanks for the honest straight forward re-review. I'm going to take a chance on this one now based on this video. I'd like to see a company like Essential succeed, in a time when even Google is putting out lackluster devices that encroach on the $1K mark depending on the options you choose. I almost think the idea of the company (essential) is necessary, considering the poor results I have experienced this last year. I have rifled through the Nexus 6P (call quality issues which turned out to be a design flaw and no software fix), the Note 7 (fire hazard), the LG V10 (not sure where to start with that one), the LG V20, (baaaaaaad overlay on a decent phone from a hardware perspective), the Samsung S8+ (decent phone, but necessary to factory reset every few months because of their overlay bogging down the OS), and the Pixel 2 (couldn't update to latest OTA security patches on AT&T because they don't care about unlocked phones at all, and I was therefore stuck with the bluetooth connectivity issues). I am not a big camera snob, and I would choose Google's camera app anyway, so this seems like a good option. Also, you can't deny the deal that Sprint has for this phone right now, and it's still an unlocked phone if purchased through them!

  4. Richard Blanton

    Thanks for the update Bro, you are Spot On with this review as of today, 12-03-2017:

    Again, this is my take on this phone for what it is worth ….

    1. The software is buttery smooth at this time due to updates;

    2. What is the lousy Rap about the Earphone jack? The adapter combo DAC that comes with the USB C adapter is an outstanding, flexible, and impressive sounding accessory. Just think of it as a 3in. Extension of your cord and leave it plugged into your earbuds and take care of it, so as it will not get lost.

    One more thing, you know if you use a male to male extension wire you can play your Spotify Music at extreme quality levels and be the "Head In" for a 1,000 watt home stereo system. Try that and see how it sounds. There is a Hugh difference in the listening experience. The wire cost you a couple of bucks to try out.

    3. Due to recent updates on the camera's software, the camera now provides an upper-end point and shoot experience at this time. I recommend one install the free Adobe Express App as it integrates "Seamlessly" into the stock software during the post editing phase to finish polishing up your pics if you want too.

    4. Please Stop a minute and see the forest for the trees. This phone could be the last phone you ever purchase as for the most part it future proof. This phone OS is wide open and its a real Sleeper of a Phone. Within a few months, it's owners at that time will pull up next to a stop light and Samsungs and Apple high rollers will make lite of it one too many times. When the stop light goes Green, The Essential Phone, by that time, will have morphed into a Hot Rod Sleeper device that will blow the doors of the 700 to 1,000 multi-billion dollar Corporate phones leaving them in amazement. How will it be able to do this you may ask?

    5. The essential open source community will make this happen. There are signs of it already. Example, Android O already installable on this phone by its Geek leading edge initial following and Andy quietly let it happen on the sidelines.

    6. You are kind of right saying this phone is not for folks that just want to use it ideally out of the box.

    7. This phone is best served for the mid-level to an advanced crowd that loves the fact that They have "Power in the hands of the Few!

    8. Take a leap of faith save some bucks and jump on Andy's Essential Phone Train so you won't be left at the station.

  5. David Berry

    I've seen so many comments about how great this camera is after all those updates. It's good to hear an opinion from someone that's gonna say it like it is weather you like it or not.

  6. Silas Mayes

    I really want a oneplus 5t, but it doesn't support CDMA and my parents pay for my network so it isn't like I have a choice

  7. david cantrell

    I have an essential phone and I love it, I got rid of my iPhone X because I like this phone so much better!!! I have a few quirks now and then but what phone doesn't have that and I've had hundreds of them!! I would absolutely love to be a phone reviewer I switch phones off and enough every time something new comes out I'm one of the first to have it granted I don't wait in line or anything I just always build connections to get it!

  8. david cantrell

    I can also tell you this much here in Iowa in Des Moines Best Buy can't even keep the essential phone in stock it's selling like hotcakes

  9. Live Positive

    Yeah the camera is not as great as I would like but the in hand feel the build is on point and headphone jack I could care less because I use a Bluetooth speaker so no wires I'd rather have no wire but I personally like the phone one of the best phones ive had at 128 gigs with the price drop I think it's worth it the software is good too

  10. Branden Schuler

    I have the Essential Phone. It really is nice. It has two problems; speed and camera. But I rooted it and sideloaded the Pixel camera. Now it's snappy and has an amazing camera. I am going to keep it like this for the customization but the official OTA for Oreo should fix this phones problems.
    If I didn't have Verizon I probably would go for the 5T with 8 gigs Ram or a Razer tbh. But I still love my Essential.

  11. denniebone626

    I bought my Essential PH1 Black Moon on December 6 from Best Buy for $499 and since purchased the updates have been coming so fast I lost count. Premium hardware, stock Android software and with the great battery life I love this phone. I don't have any bad issues with my phone.

  12. Amy Bella

    I don't understand something they aimed this as a Google phone with Google app. Why in the world would you put am essential app instead of keeping it Google camera app.

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