Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone is an immensely impressive debut Android phone, but can it beat Apple's iPhone X?

    Andy Rubin's Essential Phone is an immensely impressive debut Android phone, but can it beat Apple's iPhone X?

Pretty much everyone knows what Android is these days, the same way everyone knows what the iPhone is. Likewise everyone knew who Steve Jobs was, and a lot of people probably know who Tim Cook is, however, even fans of Android may not know who Andy Rubin is.

Andy Rubin was one of the original co-creators of Android way back when, in fact by many he is considered the true "father" of the platform. Whether he's as well-known broadly as the likes of Job and Cook, he still became a billionaire off the back of Android, but then left it in Google's hands to go and pursue other things, before eventually founding his own firm; Essential.

And now Rubin is back in the phone business, with Essential launching its own Android-based smartphone, its debut model, just shortly ahead of the launch of the 10th anniversary iPhone X. The company's debut handset is the Essential PH-1, but it's caught on as "the Essential Phone".

Rubin has said he created the Essential phone because he wanted to make an Android phone with the best specs, hardware, and design, which would complement the operating system running on it.

Sound familiar? That's because that has been Apple's philosophy with the iPhone and iPad series. The fact that Apple makes the iPhone hardware and software is why many people consider the iPhone to be the best smartphone in the business and a go-to option for millions. If you control both aspects of the device, hardware, and software, you can fully craft it to how you believe it should work.

Apple has now launched the iPhone X, surprising all who'd previously seen it rumoured as the iPhone 8 for many months. Still, despite the name being a bit different, most of the rumour were true in terms of brand new design and onboard tech. It packs an all-new glass design with an edge-to-edge display dominating the frontage, and Touch ID has been replaced with 3D face scanning dubbed Face ID. Apple has also extensively tweaked the camera, and loaded up an all-new A11 processor.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the iPhone X may break all previous pre-order records, estimating a possible 40-50 million pre-orders for the handset. However, there are still concerns, some coming from Kuo himself, of supply shortages. Allegedly the 3D face scanning tech still poses a component supply bottleneck for Apple's manufacturing in Asia. It remains possible that Apple won't be able to adequately meet demand until we're inside 2018.

The Essential Phone has begun shipping to pre-order customers, with the company confirming the fact in a Tweet. Essential began taking pre-orders just over a week ago and customers received notifications via email that their devices would be shipping within a week of those initial orders. The Tweet confirms Essential is following up on those plans.

"We're beginning to ship Essential Phone! Please look out for an e-mail today with tracking info. We appreciate everyone's patience!"

Essential Phone vs iPhone X: Major Specs

Apple iPhone X

    • Display: 5.8-inch 2436x1125 (458 PPI) HDR OLED
    • Storage: 64GB, 256GB
    • Chipset: Six-core Apple Fusion A11
    • Memory: 3GB
    • Connectivity: LTE Advanced/802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi
    • Camera: Two 12-megapixel sensors with one f/1.8 wide-angle lens, one f/2.4 telephoto camera, 4K 60FPS video recording, 120FPS 1080p video recording, optical image stabilisation on both sensors
    • Front-facing camera: 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera with FaceID
    • Extras: A11 Bionic chip for FaceID and Augmented Reality applications, IP67 water resistance

    Essential Phone

    • Dimensions: 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm [Titanium Body]
    • Weight: 185g
    • Display: 5.71in IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen 1312 x 2560 pixels (504 ppi)
    • Processor: MSM8998 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core (4x2.45 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)
    • GPU: Adreno 540
    • RAM: 4GB
    • Software: Android 7.1 Nougat
    • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Type-C USB, NFC, GPS, Fingerprint scanner,
    • Storage: 128GB
    • MicroSD: No
    • Primary Camera: Dual-13MP, f/1.9 aperture, phase detection & laser autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panoramic capture 2160p video @30fps, 1080p video @60fps, 720p video @120fps
    • Secondary Camera: 8 MP, f/2.2 aperture, 2160p video @30fps, 1080pvideo @60fps, 720p video @120fps
    • Battery: 3040mAh

    Apple's iPhone X packs a brand new A11 chipset which appears to be much more advanced than Qualcomm's Snapdragon tech.

    On the subject of RAM, the Essential's 4GB is 25% more than the 3GB that is expected in the iPhone X. This looks like a win for the Essential, but you need to remember that Apple does a great job of tailoring the OS to take advantage of the RAM the iPhone ships with. That, combined with the A-series chipset, and the iPhone ALMOST ALWAYS blows away the more RAM and Qualcomm chipset found in Android devices.

    When it comes to storage options, the iPhone 8 will max out at 256GB with the entry-level model coming with 64GB of storage. Those two options may seem slim, but it's more than you get with the Essential, which only has a 128GB option. However, as 128GB is a good size for almost anyone (whereas 64GB might not be enough and 256GB might be overkill) the Essential wins on storage.

    Essential Phone vs iPhone X: Display

    No doubt about it, the Essential's 5.71in 2560 x 1312 QHD display is beautiful. But it could actually pale in comparison to the display on the iPhone X. That edge-to-edge display is a 5.8in setup with a 2436x1125 pixel resolution and boosted by HDR technology, meaning it's just a tad bit larger than the display in the Essential. And it's also OLED, which is an obvious benefit in terms of both image quality and how friendly it is to battery life. The HDR tuning means it offers fantastic cinematic quality comparable to high-end TV sets.

    Essential Phone vs iPhone X: Camera

    Each phone offers dual-lens rear cameras. The front cameras are both in the 7-8MP region. Of the back lenses the Essential maxes out at 13MP with a nice wide f/1.9 aperture, while the iPhone 8  has a 12MP dual lens.

    Essential Phone vs iPhone X: Extras

    Besides new designs for both handsets (well, the Essential's is its first design ever), what is the killer features of each? For the Essential…it doesn't really seem to have one, other than it's a stock Android phone and those are pretty rare outside of Google's stable. But keep in mind, this is a first generation phone, so we may see more clever things added on subsequent models.

    The iPhone X, on the other hand, is  packed with killer facial recognition tech and wireless charging—both things the Essential lacks.

    Essential Phone vs iPhone X: Verdict

    A verdict wouldn't be fair yet because the iPhone X is yet to reach the hands of reviewers or consumers. However, a glance at the specs and features lists alone suggests the iPhone X and Essential Phone will be quite evenly matched in many respects. Both their dual-camera hardware appears to be in a similar ballpark, they both have top-tier chipsets with stacks of RAM and oodles of storage space, and they both run streamlined software as it was originally intended.

    The main arena in which the iPhone may edge out in front is the display, adopting OLED, which may also give it an advantage in battery life. It is plausible that the A11 chipset could also beat the Snapdragon 835 even with slightly less RAM to play with - but the jury is out until after the iPhone X gets put through its paces.

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    iPhone 8 Deals

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