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Last week, Andy Rubin’s1 startup Essential made its official debut with a range of smart products, including a brand new smartphone dubbed the Essential PH-1 (PH-ONE, get it?). Of course, we were more than excited to see what the creator of Android has been working on, especially given the phone’s rather unique (even slightly odd) design and new take on modularity.
Glancing over the spec sheet, the phone appears to check many of the boxes we’d look for in a 2017 flagship, including some impressive sounding camera hardware. Like Huawei’s devices, the PH-1 features dual-camera sensors — one color, one monochrome — to improve dynamic range and preserve the details of a photo. As promising as all of this sounds, hardware will only take you so far and a lot of a phone’s camera quality relies on post processing — the phone’s actual software — to interpret the final image before it’s delivered to the user.
Earlier today, Essential President Niccolo de Masi tweeted a photo showcasing the phone’s low light shooting prowess with a photo of a city skyline at dusk. To put it bluntly: the photo looked awful. The buildings were blurry, lacked dynamic range, and quite literally looked like it was taken with a smartphone camera from 3+ years ago. De Masi must have caught wind that the photo didn’t present the phone in the best light and deleted the tweet, but not before we were able to screenshot and download the photo. You know… for posterity’s sake.
Before you’re too hard on the phone, the Essential Phone used to take this photo could have very well been pre-production hardware running non-final software. Anything could change between now and the time the phone actually launches and it’s entirely possible the software team goes back to the drawing board to improve camera quality. So for anyone looking forward to the phone — there is still hope.
The Essential PH-1 is set to launch in the coming weeks, but you can pre-order the phone right now on Essential’s website.