Essential PH-1 Camera Questioned As Exec Posts Noisy Photos

The camera capabilities of the Essential PH-1 recently came under public scrutiny after Essential President Niccolo de Masi took to Twitter to share a number of photos captured with the device, suggesting that the handset's imaging sensors perform in a suboptimal manner under certain conditions. Two of de Masi's tweets that have been deleted by now showed a couple of city images taken at dusk and both exhibited visible image noise and a lack of details in both highlights and shadows as the Essential PH-1 was apparently struggling to correctly expose the shots, resulting in relatively unimpressive photographs that can be seen in the gallery beneath this writing.

The Palo Alto, California-based startup established by Android founder Andy Rubin has yet to advertise the dual camera setup of the device as one of its key selling points but the announcement of the Essential PH-1 and related promotional materials indicated that the phone will be a capable imaging tool. The device sports two 13-megapixel f/1.85 lenses on its rear panel arranged in a horizontal manner, one of which exclusively captures monochrome (black and white) images, while the other one records colors. The two are meant to work in conjunction to deliver high-quality photos that would hardly be achieved with conventional single-lens mobile camera setups, though that seemingly wasn't the case with de Masi's photos. The monochrome sensor of the Essential PH-1 or the software controlling it is likely a large part of the reason why the photos taken by the company's president ended up looking like they did, with slightly overblown highlights and completely black shadows showing almost no details. However, the image noise visible in both photos cannot be exclusively blamed on a single sensor and possibly indicates the limits of the device's camera setup.

The imaging prowess of the Essential PH-1 is just the latest concern regarding the upcoming Android-powered device that Rubin promised would fix a number of common issues plaguing Android, including inconsistent software support, bloatware, and planned obsolescence. Skeptical industry watchers previously argued that the smartphone is still an Android flagship with a relatively high price tag which ships with a list of promises that many significantly larger original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were unable to fulfill to date, indicating a degree of doubt on whether Essential truly manages to offer a radically different product.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]