Quantum phase estimation is a fundamental subroutine in many quantum algorithms, including Shor's factorization algorithm and quantum simulation. However, so far results have cast doubt on its practicability for near-term, nonfault tolerant, quantum devices. Here we report experimental results demonstrating that this intuition need not be true. We implement a recently proposed adaptive Bayesian approach to quantum phase estimation and use it to simulate molecular energies on a silicon quantum photonic device. The approach is verified to be well suited for prethreshold quantum processors by investigating its superior robustness to noise and decoherence compared to the iterative phase estimation algorithm. This shows a promising route to unlock the power of quantum phase estimation much sooner than previously believed.