While the company continues to get their Android Oreo build ready for the Essential Phone, Essential has made the process of getting the beta build and updates to it far easier. They have no enabled a new OTA update mechanism for beta testers meaning that you don’t have to sideload it.
The option for an OTA update is now listed as an option on the Essential Beta Builds site. Once you select the OTA option, you will need to sign up with your name, email address and your device’s serial number in order to be fully registered and to receive the latest beta build.
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In an unexpected move, Essential has quietly released an exclusive version of their Essential Phone on Amazon. The new Halo Gray variant comes with Amazon Alexa built-in but is identical to any other variant of the phone as far as specs and features. The Amazon exclusive is $449, the same price as other colors.
The addition of the Halo Gray color comes on the heels of three color variants being released by Essential themselves. Those colors – Ocean Depths, Stellar Gray and Copper Black – are price $100 more than the standard color models.
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Essential teased on Tuesday via Twitter than a new color for the Essential Phone was going to be available starting today. That color, Ocean Depths, has arrived. The teal blue with gold highlights version of the PH-1 has the exact same internals as the current Black Moon and Pure White versions but you get what is a pretty stunning looking color combo to set you, and your phone apart.
The new Ocean Depths color is available starting today. It is exclusively available through the Essentials site and costs $599, $100 more than the standard color models. In addition to this new color, two more were announced today and will be available starting next week.
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For those enrolled in the beta testing program for the Essential Phone, it is time to check for a system update. The first beta of the company’s Android Oreo 8.1 build has been released and testers will be receiving the update via an OTA download. As you may recall, Essential pulled the Oreo 8.0 build last month, citing issue with stability in the build, and decided to scrap it to move straight to 8.1.
The build has the February Android Security Update patch included and also has a fix for a common problem for users of the Essential Phone: Slow scroll jitter. Users have complained that the phone has a lot of jitter when slowly scrolling up or down a patch. This beta has a fix for it and appears to be working well. All in, the OTA update is just over 500MB in size so WiFi downloading is a must.
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In the six months that the Essential Phone was available in 2017, the startup company shipped only 88,000 units and shows that the company, despite its deep Android roots in Andy Rubin, has a long way to go to hit the mainstream.
The figures came from IDC researcher Francisco Jeronimo who posted it on Twitter.
The numbers certainly reflect on what was a difficult birthing process for the company’s first phone.
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If there has been one criticism of the Essential Phone, it has been the camera and the camera app. Frankly, it was a hot mess when the phone was released but the company has been making huge strides in updating both the firmware and software to improve photos from the phone. Today, they are getting a little better.
There is an update to the Essential Camera app in the Play Store that brings a lot of fixes as well as Auto-HDR support. The update is version 0.1.096.003 and a lot of work has gone into it around HDR in general.
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The Essential Phone could be the first phone to get the February Android Security Update patch. Those patches were released yesterday by Google and today, Essential has begun rolling out build NMK24B to the PH-1 which contains the patch.
While the Essential Phone got off to a rough start and still lacks its Android Oreo update (it will be getting 8.1 in a few weeks), the company is certainly making strides to keep the device updated from a security perspective.
Continue reading “Essential Phone Update Brings the February Android Security Update Patch”