It's hard to deny that the Essential Phone has some good-looking hardware. Its titanium frame and ceramic back might make the phone a bit more durable, but what happens when you do break the phone? iFixit has just torn down Andy Rubin's new phone, and the results are not good.
The teardown begins by applying some "Super Cold" aerosol to make the process easier. Some heat is then applied, and sharp tools are used to get the phone's ceramic back detached from its large amount of adhesive. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is the wrong way in - the only things visible are the bottoms of some screws and a midframe. iFixit then goes around to the front of the phone and tries to pry the display off.
The screen is eventually removed, but it gets cracked pretty badly. iFixit's "Essential Electronics Tool Kit" (no relation to the Essential Phone in particular) couldn't get the job done, and some stronger tools were needed. It is worth noting, however, that the cover glass separates from the LCD pretty easily, so if you crack the screen but it still works fine and you don't break the entire thing when opening the device, that's a plus.
After all this, some midframe parts are finally revealed. There's a heat pipe, some grounding fingers, a battery with the repair-friendly stretch-release adhesive, but the battery requires another bracket to be removed for access. Sadly, the USB Type-C port is soldered to the motherboard, meaning that if the port goes bad, a repair will be expensive. The front-facing camera and earpiece are removed as a single part. The dual camera system is taken out here as well.
Ultimately, Essential's first offering gets the worst repair score possible, a 1. So if you were considering buying one, be very careful with it. And if you work at a phone repair shop, be a little worried when you see someone walk in with one of these. Check out iFixit's full teardown for all the details.