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First footage from Essential Phone's 360-degree camera add-on posted online

Official footage from the 360-degree camera add-on for the upcoming Essential Phone has been posted on the company's YouTube channel.

Published onJune 6, 2017

A week ago, Essential, the start-up founded by Android’s co-creator Andy Rubin, officially announced the heavily rumored Essential Phone. One of the biggest features of the phone is its ability to support add-on accessories that attach to its back via magnetic points. That includes a 360-degree camera that’s being sold alongside the Essential Phone. As it turns out, the company has been quietly posting footage taken with that 360-degree camera on its YouTube channel for the past few days.

The footage shows a high amount of detail for such a camera, and the stitch lines that are created with the add-on are not very noticeable in most cases; they seem to be blurred nicely. Also, the footage also seems to show that this 360-degree camera can change light exposure settings on the fly, or at least allows users to change them very quickly.

Essential also seems to want to appeal to millennials with the subjects of these 360-degree videos. YouTube personality Cameron Dallas, The Roots bandleader Questlove, and rapper Tyga are all featured in separate clips. There’s also 360-degree footage taken during a T.I. concert on the YouTube channel, along with a brief look courtside during Game 2 of the NBA 2017 Finals.

The 360-degree camera add-on looks promising, but what about the dual-rear camera setup on the handset itself? On Monday, Essential’s president Niccolo de Masi posted a number of images on his Twitter account that he said came from his Essential Phone, with its two 13 MP rear sensors (one for colors, the other for monochromatic images). The bad news is that they really didn’t look good at all. The photos didn’t seem to handle low light conditions well, and showed grainy and blurred details.

The Twitter posts with those images were quickly deleted by de Masi, for obvious reasons. However, we don’t want to pass a quick judgement on the Essential Phone’s camera abilities based on these photos just yet. It’s likely that the phone that de Masi was using was a pre-production model, and that the final shipping version of the handset may have more refined photo hardware and software.

US residents can pre-order the Essential Phone right now for $699, and they can choose to purchase the 360-degree camera add-on for an extra $50. The phone is scheduled to begin shipping to those pre-orders by the end of June. In the meantime, what are your opinions on the 360-degree footage? Do you think the phone’s main cameras will see some improvements when the final versions begin to ship? Let us know your opinions in the comments!

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