As for the processor, performance, and software, Essential did almost all of the obvious and right things. It’s running on the same modern hardware you can get on other top-shelf Android phones: a Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. There’s just the one storage option, and you can’t expand it.
I’ve found battery life to be excellent, at least when compared to other big-screen Android phones. I’m hitting a full day without issue — though two will be a stretch. That’s with fairly heavy use, too. Android people generally use the amount of time the screen is on before the battery dies as an apples-to-apples comparison, and on the Essential Phone I got just over seven hours.
In terms of traditional hardware specs, my biggest complaints are that the Essential Phone is not waterproof and that there’s no option for wireless charging (unless you count the proprietary dock Essential intends to sell someday that charges via those accessory contact pins).
Performance has been quite good, which I attribute in large part to the fact that Essential basically hasn’t done anything to change Android. It’s running version 7.1.1 and the only software customizations I could find are as follows:
- Custom camera app
- Whatever software is necessary to make the modules work and accommodate the screen cutout
- A setting to send diagnostic data back to Essential
That’s it. There isn’t even any Sprint software here — even if you buy it directly from the carrier, nothing will get installed against your will and there’s nothing to uninstall. In an age of crapware, bloatware, adware, and spyware all masquerading as consumer-friendly options direct from carriers, this is a breath of fresh Android air.