2 years, 4 months, 4 days. This is the time that I have carried the Essential Phone PH-1 as my “daily driver”. I believe that is my record of any phone.
Words cannot express how frustrated I am to be forced to move on from Essential. It has been the most favorite phone I have ever carried. The physical size of the phone is perfect. The updates have been solid on-point and I even got Android 10 before the Pixel series did (look it up). The state of mobile phone selection in America right now is terrible.
It should be noted that I never factory reset the Essential. The phone received all the following updates without any issue whatsoever. Operational speed has always been excellent, smooth and responsive.
- Android 7.1.1 “Nougat”
- Android 8.1 “Oreo”
- Android 9.0 “Pie”
- Android 10 (current)
You may wonder why I decided to get a new phone. The answer is simple: security. While Essential regularly released Android security patches, this has not happened since Febuary 2020 when the company announced full shutdown. Therefore, as time progresses, the phone becomes more and more vulnerable to zero-day flaws and exploits.
Choosing a replacement was very difficult. My priority was centered around security. Apple, Google, OnePlus, and Motorola were all viable contenders. While I seriously considered an iPhone for longer than 30 seconds, I couldn’t really choose this as I am married for life to Android. However, Apple’s code is completely closed and written in the United States. Therefore it (usually) is secure, as long as the humans writing it that work for Apple don’t accidentally leave open a huge vulnerability as they have in the past.
OnePlus tempted me greatly, especially with the OnePlus 7T for $500. Hardware specs are awesome but the OS is written in Shenzhen, China. This is not secure. Same with Motorola.
Better the enemy I know than the enemy I don’t
Therefore, the only choice is the Google Pixel. While I have no trust in Google remaining to “do no evil”, better the enemy I know than the enemy I don’t. Also, if Google is caught violating our privacy in a way that is unforgivable, I have a bit of faith in the FCC to lay down the law to protect the American citizens.
Amazon has the Google Pixel 3a XL on sale for $319 plus taxes. This is in preparation for the launch of the upcoming Google Pixel 4a. My plan is to carry the 3a XL as my daily driver until the 4a is released, or the Pixel 5 is announced and that might change my mind. I only want the 3a XL for a few months.
Initial review of Pixel 3a XL versus Essential Phone
- Much better battery
- Camera is epic
- Bezels are huge
- Software is nearly identical in every way