Essential has issued some very significant updates for the Essential Phone over the course of the past few days. The phone, which was recently discounted to $500 down from its original $700 price tag, has recently become a much more compelling buy, and Essential have been capitalising on this publicity by pushing some invaluable and much-awaited updates for their devices.
The first, and possibly the most significant development, is the much-anticipated launch of an Android Oreo beta build for the device. While this has, unfortunately, come 3 months after the initial launch of Android Oreo, it is a much-appreciated upgrade for any users of the device. The beta build is available in the form of a flashable disc image, which you can grab from Essential's website. Do note that you will need to flash this using ADB – there's no OTA option available here. The build is largely complete and houses only 2 prominent bugs; Increased battery drain with Bluetooth enabled, and Android Auto compatibility issues with some vehicles. However, the lack of any dealbreaker bugs is great news for the end user, and this means we might not be far from an official launch of Android Oreo on the Essential Phone.
The second significant development is the publishing of the factory images for the PH-1 running Android Nougat. These were promised to users a few weeks ago, and are often an important component in the development of custom ROMs like LineageOS. Fortunately, they are now available for download through Essential's developer portal.
Finally, Essential has issued an update for their camera app. It's no secret that their camera app is far from the best of the market; the consensus amongst the tech industry has been to install the Google Camera HDR+ port for the device as opposed to using Essential's own app. Essential has been committed to improvements, however, which is what we see in this update.
This update brings a series of much-welcome improvements, which you can see listed below:
- Mono video recording now supports 60 FPS
- Improved OTA flow for 360 Camera updates
- Minor UI improvements
- Stability fixes
Many users and reviewers have cited Essential's camera app as being unstable, making it difficult to use especially in moments where you need to capture a quick photo. They have sought to improve this with this update; Essential say that you should experience fewer crashes than before (although we'll be sure to test that over the course of the coming days). Additionally, they have added the ability to take monochrome video at 60FPS - we're not quite sure why you would want to do this, but it's nice to have the option all the same. Finally, they have improved the transition of OTA updates for their 360 camera, as well as making some minor UI changes such as tweaked icon placement. Overall, these updates should push the Essential Phone closer to its expected threshold (even though it's still far from perfect) You can grab the update from the Play Store:
What do you guys think? Do these updates make the Essential Phone a more alluring option? Let us know in the comments, or be sure to post over in the forums with your thoughts.