Essential Phone vs Pixel: What’s the difference?

Essential Phone vs Google Pixel: How does the new phone from Android creator Andy Rubin compare to the Android showcase phone, the Google Pixel? Here’s our comparison.

The new Essential Phone has now arrived to take on the big boys in the smartphone market. With Android creator Andy Rubin at the helm, Essential is looking to compete against top-end handsets such as the Galaxy S8 and, of course, Google’s Pixel Phone.

But, does the new handset really have what it takes to suceed? Well, we thought we’d take an early look at how the phone compares to the Google Pixel to see if we can’t get a better idea of the Essential Phone’s chances in the increasingly crowded smartphone market.


Essential Phone vs Google Pixel Design: What’s the difference?

The Essential Phone weighs 185g and measures 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm, as opposed to the Pixel’s 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm (the Pixel XL measures 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm). It also features a titanium and ceramic body which should hold up well when dropped. That design also makes for a particularly sleek chassis that looks great in the press shots we’ve seen – though we’re yet to get our hands on a review model.

Google, on the other hand, has used metal and glass for the Pixel phone’s chassis, which is unlikely to be as sturdy as the Essential Phone. It makes for a perfectly servicable phone, that feels as good as, if not better than the latest iPhone, even if the design isn’t as flashy as the new Galaxy S8.

Essential seems to have Google at a disadvantage in the design department, with an almost full-face 5.7-inch display that is clearly the phone’s standout feature. The screen extends to the very top of the phone, meaning there’s little to no top bezel on this device, whereas the Pixel comes with significant top and bottom bezels. In both cases, you won’t find a physical home button on the bottom bezel, however, with both Essential and Google opting to place their respective fingerprint sensors on the rear of the phones.

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Google Pixel and Pixel XL reviewThe Pixel and Pixel Xl

Neither phone comes with any significant waterproofing, though the Pixel is IP53 rated, which means it’ll survive the odd splash. One area where Google might be able to appeal to consumers more is in the ports department. The company opted to retain the 3.5mm headphone jack which hasn’t been included on the Essential handset – the phone does come with an adapter, though. Other than that, both phones use a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer.

While the Essential Phone lacks the headphone jack of the Pixel, it does have a somewhat unorthodox feature in the form of a magnetic connector on the rear that allows for modules to be attached. You’ll be able to attach a 360-degree camera using the pogo pins, with more modules surely set to arrive in the future. No such luck on the Google Pixel – though whether that’s a big deal will depend on how fond of the whole modular thing you are – and let’s face it, modular phones haven’t exactly proved all that popular in recent years.

You’ll be able to pick up the Essential Phone in Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White, and Ocean Depths., while Google offers its handset in Black or Silver.

Essential PhoneThe Essential Phone

Essential Phone vs Google Pixel specs: Which phone is more powerful?

While we haven’t yet reviewed, or even touched, the Essential Phone, it looks set to be a powerhouse. At the heart of the new phone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 – that’s the latest chipset from the company and can be found in today’s top-end phones, including the Galaxy S8. The Pixel, on the other hand, uses the older Snapdragon 821 – which should still be plenty fast.

RAM-wise, both phones come with 4GB, and are matched in terms of internal storage at 128GB – though you can opt for a 32GB Pixel if you want to keep the cost down. From where we stand, it seems likely you won’t be noticing much difference in terms of performance between these two phones. Despite the Snapdragon 835 chip in the Essential handset, there’s unlikely to be any discernible difference in speed between the phones.

One area where you might notice a difference, however, in the screen. Essential has provided a 2560 x 1312 5.7-inch screen with a 504 ppi density that, as mentioned previously, covers almost the entire front of the phone itself. It looks set to be the phone’s most noticeable feature and packs significantly more pixels than the Google phone’s 1920 x1080 (441ppi) screen. That said, the Pixel does have a smaller 5-inch display, so the pixels will be packed closer together, meaning you’re unlikely to be disappointed with picture sharpness. Google also makes use of AMOLED tech for its display panel, so colours will be vivid and blacks nice and inky.

It’s a different story with the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL, though. The bigger Pixel phone pushes the screen resolution to 2560 x 1440, which is more than the Essential Phone offers. And as the screen is slightly smaller, pictures should look a little sharper on the Pixel XL, too.

pixel 9The Pixel Phone

If it’s the camera you’re most concerned with, both phones should offer great performance. The Essential Phone’s  two 13-megapixel lenses, one of which is monochrome should offer impressive low-light performance – though we’re yet to test that. Google, on the other hand, stuck with the single lens for the Pixel, but it’s a top-performing smartphone camera. With a 12-megapixel sensor and an f/2.0 aperture, the shooter on the Pixel produces some of the best shots we’ve seen from a phone.

Battery-wise, the 3,040mAh cell in the Essential Phone should mean you’ll get through a day of use without needing to charge – though there’s no wireless charging option here. Google opted for a smaller 2770mAh battery, which makes the handset a ‘charge every night’ device’. The Pixel XL’s 3450mAh offering is a tad more forgiving, however.

Essential Phone

For a full spec comparison, check out the table below:

Google Pixel Essential Phone
Screen 5 inches (AMOLED) 5.7 inches
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 (441ppi) 2560 x 1312 (504ppi)
Aspect Ratio 16:9 19:10
Primary Camera 12 megapixels | f/2.0 2x 13 megapixels (one monochrome) | f/1.85
Secondary Camera 8 megapixels | f/2.4 8 megapixels | f/2.2
Chipset Snapdragon 821 (14nm) Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (10nm)
RAM 4GB 4GB
Storage 32/128GB 128GB
Battery Capacity 2770mAh 3040mAh
Waterproof? IP53 certified No
Fingerprint Scanner? Yes Yes
Headphone Jack? Yes No (adapter included)
Primary Port USB Type C USB Type C
Iris Scanner? No No
Wireless Charging? No No
Micro SD Slot? No No
Dimensions 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm
Weight 143 grams 185 grams
Software Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat

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Essential Phone vs Google Pixel software: What’s running on these phones?

You’ll find Android 7.0 Nougat on both phones, and what’s great is that both phones should offer an untouched version of the OS. We know that to be the case on the Pixel, seeing as it comes direct from Google, and Essential is promising the same thing on its upcoming handset. That means no bloatware, no irritating skins or extra apps that duplicate the same functions. Just pure Android.

You can check out a full list of Nougat’s features here.

Essential Phone

Essential Phone vs Google Pixel price: Which phone is better value for money?

Unfortunately, Essential is planning to make its phone available only in the US at first, for $699 (about £545) with Andy Rubin saying at the phone’s launch on May 30 that he expects the device to ship within 30 days.

US buyers also have the option of picking up a limited time bundle, which throws in a 360-degree Essential Phone camera for an extra $50 (around £40) – the add-on’s regular price tag is $199 (around £155).

The Pixel Phone, meanwhile, is available now from Google starting at £599.99, or £719.99 for the Pixel XL.

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pixel 35The Pixel Phone

Essential Phone vs Google Pixel Summary: What’s the difference?

Here’s a short breakdown of the key differences between the Google Pixel and the Essential Phone.

Design: The Essential Phone is a nicely designed device which looks to have the edge on the Pixel in terms of design. The titanium and ceramic build, coupled with the almost full-face screen make it a striking handset, while the Pixel is merely a solid option.

Specs: The two handset match up fairly evenly here, though there’s no doubt the Essential Phone has the superior hardware in the form of a Snapdragon 835 processor. There won’t be much difference in day-to-day use, however.

Price: Essential wants $699 (about £545) for its device, while Google is asking for £599.99 for the Pixel and £719.99 for the Pixel XL. The Essential phone won’t be launching outside of the US for now, however.

Value: It’s hard to say which is better value before we’ve review the Essential Phone. It seems like a superior device to the Pixel and comes with a similar price tag, but we’ll reserve judgement until we try it out.

Let us know whether you’d buy an Essential Phone over a Pixel in the comments.