The Essential Phone is an unusual-looking Android device with premium specs, support for modular accessories, and a pretty strong pedigree: Essential was founded by Andy Rubin, one of the co-founders of Android.

First unveiled in May, the Essential Phone is expected to begin shipping soon. So it’s not surprising to see that the phone passed through the FCC this week.

The FCC documents don’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the phone. But they do confirm that the phone supports 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC and has the network band support to work with pretty much all US wireless carriers… even though Sprint will be the only carrier that actually sells the phone directly to customers. Everyone else will be able to buy it from Essential Products.

Essential’s first smartphones features a 5.7 inch, 2560 x 1312 pixel display that covers most of the front of the device… with the exception of a small bezel below the screen and a cut-out on the top, allowing Android status notifications to wrap around the camera. Expect to see a black bar there when running full-screen apps though.

The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 3,040 mAh battery, a 13MP dual camera system on the back, and an 8MP front facing camera. And it has a USB Type-C port but no 3.5mm audio jack.

An unlocked phone is priced at $699 and there’s an optional 360-degree camera accessory that will be the first module designed to attach to the back of the phone. The camera is eventually expected to sell for $199, but it’s up for pre-order for $50 when bundled with the phone.

 



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12 replies on “Essential Phone hits the FCC, should begin shipping soon”

  1. I kind of hate that camera in the top middle of the screen. Otherwise, it appears to just be another Android phone.

    1. I wonder if they can attract many iphone hipsters to this phone. It looks like the hippest Android phone you can buy… very mysterious.

    2. I agree, although the multi-carrier bones is a nice feature.

      Still, I’m done paying that much for a phone. The technology has matured enough where that really isn’t necessary.

    1. With 128GB of included storage and the almost-ubiquitous availability of cloud-based storage (Google Drive, Box, DropBox, OneDrive), what purpose do you actually find for SD Card slots? I am using an iPhone SE (temporarily) that has only 32GB of storage. I have two kids and take pictures and videos almost daily… I have yet to find myself in a position in which I have thought “I wish I had a slot to put some slow storage medium in, that is small enough I could lose it in handful of M&Ms and store my precious memories on it!”

      Micro-SD as an argument for or against a mobile device is dead.

      1. not really I like to keep a few movies, podcasts,and some comics on the SD card just in case I run into any issues with coverage, and I refuse to pay for cellphone service with the advent of services like FreedomPop especially with all the tiny print associated with the plans… I have offline GPS maps…

      2. I’ll agree it’s less necessary, but it makes for easier, faster setup of a new phone if you can transfer your photos and music just by moving a card to a new device. And if your phone dies for some reason, you don’t lose the photos you took (assuming you don’t automatically upload those to the cloud). Mainly it’s useful for music.

      3. Not trying to insult anyone, but hear me out…
        Prior to this god awful iPhone SE that I am using (again… temporarily) I had the 128GB Pixel. I had the PLEX app syncing 2 Bond movies, 2 Bourne movies and a Sherlock Holmes movie (all in HD). I had HOURS of Google Play Music stored locally (for offline) and Google maps downloaded the Detroit, Washington DC, and Atlanta Metro areas for offline usage. All without pressing the limits of the 128GB. In addition to the plethora of pictures and videos of my family hiking, playing, etc.
        MicroSD is seriously a dead medium for mobile devices with 64GB+. It takes very little effort to set Google Photos up to sync over WiFi as soon as it is plugged in… taking NO data. Same for Google maps and other multimedia (like PLEX or any other method of storing movies on your device). I travel ~50% of the time for work, and 128GB internal + Google Drive and MS OneDrive have never failed me… and I use very little data to do it. I use more data tethering to my PC than anything else.
        Making a purchasing decision for a mobile device based on having MicroSD foolish when the mobile device in question has 128GB of storage. It makes sense on a 16 – 32GB Motorola Moto G or something similar, but not the Essential Phone or Google Pixel. Make decisions based on price, camera quality, or even if it has Dual SIM (orders of magnitude more useful than MicroSD).

  2. More unknowledgeable comments from people about removeable storage that do not understand 1. that portable files increases the ease of the user to transfer files and 2. that removable storage helps with rooting phones, backups resets etcetera. 3.state thugs steal and erase video evidence to hide their crimes

    1. Easy Bob-o. Put your tin-foil hat back on. For the 99.999% of people who don’t run into state thugs that steal their phones (after, presumably, said 0.001% of people have taken their video evidence stored on the microSD card out?… where is the logic here?), there is absolutely NO easier way to “transfer” files than the file syncing to Google Drive or OneDrive. There is no fingernail sized memory card to lose. Get over microSD FFS… Rooting is overrated for that same 99.999% of people. I used to root, back when most of the phones worth having had [email protected] UIs and bloatware… and none of those root-jobs necessitated external storage. Phones like the Pixel and Essential Phone have little use for root for those reasons… there is no garbage, and the UI is perfectly usable and stable without some other skin on it. And those large files you are referring to aren’t going to be used on a mobile (aside from movies/music, for which there is ample storage)… so none of your points really apply in today’s mobile landscape.
      1. Patently false, there is no easier way to move files from one device to another than to have access to said file on ALL devices, without regard to local storage medium.
      2. There is no easier way to backup and reset/restore a phone than doing so from a backup from Google (it is Android, after all, so the backups are there in your Google account)
      3. If this concerns you, you should hide in a lead-lined bunker, watching hacked-into-CCTV feeds of the cameras-watching-cameras and get a Blackphone from Silent Circle, use F-Droid or some other sketchy Android app market, and delete your Google account.

      Unknowledgeable… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. The camera-in-screen is going to be a thing with all phones eventually, simply because the technology to do so is getting less and less expensive. SD cards are less and less useful, especially with Android. Even a Class 10 card isn’t nearly as quick as built-in flash storage, and there’s a huge benefit to that kind of speed. I’m still a bit grumpy about the lack of a 3.5mm jack though, since Bluetooth still isn’t super reliable or convenient.

    Since HTC is probably not going to be making any phones I like after the Pixel, I’ll hang out with my XL as long as I can and hopefully Essential can pick up where HTC left off. Or maybe Asus will start to become more accepted here in the US.

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