Smartphone makers these days seem to have two goals in mind. One is to banish (almost) all bezels. The other is to be the best camera there is. Some do it with two cameras, others with just one. The Essential PH-1, the much delayed smartphone from Android creator Andy Rubin, has gone with two and is now explaining the process that went into crafting what it naturally claims will be the best smartphone camera in town.
Truth be told, part of what Essential revealed about its dual camera system isn’t exactly groundbreaking. It uses one RGB sensor and one monochrome sensor, the latter in charge of gathering light and contrast data. This is the same technique that Huawei has been using since the P9 last year.
What is rather unique in Essential’s process is that it applied “subjective tuning” to practically teach the image signal processor to take the right pictures in whatever condition. This involved a painstakingly long testing period that started way back in January. Whether or not that explains the delay of the phone itself hasn’t been established.
Essential’s short tour of its process doesn’t actually answer something it mentioned right at the start: how to still have quality photos without having a camera bump. In the case of the Google Pixel, that was made possible by not including optical image stabilization (OIS) and relying instead on very advanced electronic and software processes. No mention of such innovation here.
The post, unsurprisingly, didn’t answer the biggest question in people’s minds: when. Andy Rubin has already broken his silence to reach out to pre-order buyers and assure them that the phone will ship in a few weeks. Some have taken that to mean some time in August, dangerously close to both the Galaxy Note 8 and the iPhone 8 announcements. Sadly, without the phone itself, we can only subscribe to Essential’s camera the same first impression most have with the Essential phone: a lot of talk with not much to show yet.