Here is the Essential Phone 360 camera — its features, specifications, sample 360 videos, and sample 360 photo.
Updated: December 7, 2017 – added sample 360 photo and 360 videos.
Originally posted May 30, 2017.
Essential PH-1 is a new phone from Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin, one of the founders of Android Inc. It has unique features such as 2560 x 1312 screen that covers almost the entire front surface of the phone, a dual lens rear camera, the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and a titanium body.
Of particular interest to us is that it has a 360 camera accessory that has magnetic connectors to attach to the phone. Here are the key specifications of the Essential Phone 360 camera:
– two 12mp sensors
– each lens has a 210-degree field of view
– video resolution is 3840 x 1920 @ 30fps.
– aperture: f/1.8
– four microphones for 3D ambisonic sound recording
I didn’t see any mention of the photo resolution or the live streaming capability. It seems as if it doesn’t have image stabilization, because in one of their videos, they used a smartphone gimbal to stabilize the video.
Because the 360 camera has a larger than usual overlap (compared to typical 360 cameras with 190 degree field of view) and because of the short distance between lenses, the stitching looks quite smooth, as shown in the samples on their webpage. As for the actual image quality, it’s hard to tell from the samples on their webpage because they are shown at a small size, which makes nearly any 360 camera look good. I’ll withhold judgment until I see full size 360 video samples.
To me, what is most noteworthy about the 360 camera accessory is Essential’s internal perception of it. First, Essential made their 360 camera proprietary (it can’t be used with any other phone because of the magnetic connectors). Second, Essential also offered a very good price for the camera: just $50 more than the phone by itself, at least for the introductory period. These seem to imply that Essential thinks that a majority of their customers will get the 360 camera accessory.
Essential Phone 360 camera sample 360 videos and 360 photo:
Here is a playlist of sample 360 videos from the Essential Phone’s 360 camera (please use the upper left menu to choose between the videos).
Here is a full resolution sample 360 photo (Thank you very much to Bartek Drozdz of Kuula.co for sharing this 360 photo).
I think the photo looks impressive, particularly with the dynamic range. You can see that even the subject’s teeth weren’t blown out despite being in direct sunlight. At the same time, the distant mountains are backlit, yet detail is visible.
How about you? What do you guys think of the Essential Phone’s 360 camera? Let me know in the comments!
In the meantime, if you like the concept of a 360 camera accessory but don’t plan to switch phones, check out the Insta360 Air for Android (Type C or Micro USB), Insta360 Nano for iPhone, or Giroptic iO (for iOS or Android). These three 360 cameras have live streaming, and in addition, both Insta360 Air cameras have realtime stabilization.