It’s a relatively niche space, but Essential is innovating a bit.

The Essential Phone’s first proper accessory attachment, its 360-degree camera, is finally slowly shipping to early buyers and is available to add to new Essential Phone orders. At $199, the 360-degree camera isn’t exactly an impulse purchase and is in the same price range as other 360-degree offerings, like the Samsung Gear 360.

But just look at it: it’s so small, and it’s an interesting example of the types of things that are possible with the Essential Phone’s pogo pins and fast wireless data transfer system. Even though the Essential 360-degree camera doesn’t have any interoperability with other devices, it sure is a cool piece of technology and worth seeing how it works — and importantly, how that measures up to Essential’s claims and expectations.

How it works

As you’d expect, the Essential Phone’s 360-degree camera is dead simple … almost to a fault. Just snap the camera onto the back, where it attaches with a satisfying clunk of strong magnets, and the camera app will load up in a few seconds directly to the 360 capture mode. You can switch the camera between 4K and 2K resolution, tap a button to re-center the image, and then take a photo or capture video. Yup, that’s it.

Unlike the Moto 360 Camera Mod, you can’t actively switch between the 360 and standard cameras. In fact, the only way to get the 360 camera to launch is to remove the camera from the phone and reattach it. (Surely something that could be added with an update to the camera app.)

360-degree photos and videos are saved automatically into the photo gallery, right alongside all of your other photos and videos, where you can share them out — so no dealing with other storage media or transferring files. You can share the 360-degree photos and videos to all of the usual places like Facebook, YouTube, Google Photos, Flickr, etc. and they have all of the proper metadata to show up just perfectly.

Photos

Here are a few good photo samples that give you a feel for what the Essential 360-degree camera can do. One in harsh, one-sided lighting outside, one in consistent lighting outside, and one inside during the day.

The photos look pretty good and have plenty of resolution to be competitive — even though it may not seem too impressive when you compare it with 13MP stills from the main camera. Colors are accurate and no part of the scene is really blown out or blurry, which is about what the average person is going to expect. The stitch between the two lenses is noticeable still, but is pretty well smoothed — it’s only really pronounced in the first photo, which has very strong lighting only hitting one of the lenses. Each 360-degree photo is just 1-2MB.

Though – Source