Even before the Essential Phone was released, we knew the camera wasn't going to be very good. Sure enough, once the phone got into the hands of reviewers, the camera was by far the most disappointing aspect of the device. But most of the problem doesn't appear to be with the camera sensor, but with Essential's software.

 

Left: Essential Camera; Right: Google Camera with HDR+

TheNextWeb recently posted its review of the Essential Phone, which of course paints the device's camera in a negative light (pun intended). To see if the hardware or software was to blame, the reviewer installed the modified Google Camera APK we covered a while back. The APK, hacked together by a developer to work on most Snapdragon 820+ phones, captures significantly better photos than Essential's own camera.

Left: Essential Camera; Right: Google Camera with HDR+

Photos captured with the Google Camera's HDR+ mode look quite a bit better than ones from the Essential camera, with far more detail and greater color balance. And keep in mind that this is still a modified version of a camera app for another phone, and isn't optimized for the Essential Phone. As a commenter pointed out, this doesn't even use the phone's secondary monochrome camera.

This proves that the camera is capable of taking great pictures, but Essential will need to keep working on the camera software.