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Essential

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[Deal Alert] Essential Phone down to $399 ($100 off) from Amazon and Best Buy

The Essential Phone's initial $700 price obviously wasn't very enticing, as the phone has since fallen to as low as $399 with a free 360 Camera attachment. Today's $399 deal from Amazon and Best Buy doesn't include the 360-degree camera, but let's be honest; you were never going to use that after the first day of ownership anyway.

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[Update: Sprint too] Essential rolls out new Oreo 8.1 build with Bluetooth 5.0, April patches, and more

Essential didn't find much success selling a $700 smartphone, but it's doing better selling that same phone for $500 or less. The Essential Phone has improved with software updates, and it's currently running Android 8.1 Oreo. The company isn't taking too much time to pat itself on the back after getting Oreo out the door. There's already another build with the latest patches and new Bluetooth features.

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Essential's recent update lets full screen apps and games use the whole display, including notch area

There are really just two ways to handle a "notch" display cutout in software. Either you have content stop before it would be cut off by it, or you allow it to go all the way to the display's true edge and suffer the loss of visibility.

Everyone has an opinion about which is better, but Essential just made it so we can all have our way. The Oreo 8.1 (build 141) update includes a new "Essential notch settings" that allows for per-app and global notch customization.

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Essential Phone now receiving Android 8.1 Oreo update

At the end of January, Essential announced that it would be skipping a full release of Android 8.0 Oreo, instead going straight to 8.1. About a month after the first beta build of 8.1 came out for the Essential Phone, the official Android 8.1 Oreo update has been released from the floodgates.

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It turns out that Essential was granted a patent for a no-notch screen with a popup camera in 2017

Many of you were probably wowed by the Vivo Apex, a concept phone with way too many futuristic things on board, at MWC 2018. The Apex has extraordinarily small bezels and an in-display fingerprint sensor, but arguably its most innovative feature is its popup front-facing camera that allows it to avoid the dreaded notch. Andy Rubin has revealed that a patent for this solution was granted to Essential Products, Inc in 2017.

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Essential Camera update adds 360-degree Tiny Planet mode and 'flash' for front-facing camera

Essential has been steadily instilling more and more features into the PH-1, many of which have concerned the camera. Most recently, the Essential Camera app has seen autoHDR and 360-degree live-streaming added. Today Essential announced via Twitter that Tiny Planet mode and "flash" for the front-facing camera (read: white burst from the screen) are bundled in the latest Essential Camera update.

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Essential adds opt-in OTA option for beta builds

Essential Phone owners can now opt in to receive beta builds via an OTA, versus having to sideload the firmware. For some, this is a godsend since it eliminates the somewhat difficult process of sideloading in order to test the latest (in this case Oreo) goodness. User nobeconobe posted this in the Essential subreddit, so kudos to that person.

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'Halo Gray' Essential Phone now available for pre-order, includes Alexa and costs $450

Just yesterday, Essential announced three new colors for its flagship phone - Ocean Depths, Stellar Gray, and Copper Black. While the colors are appealing, the $599 price tag definitely isn't, especially when the first model has been as low as $300. Today, Essential announced another new color, with Alexa built-in.

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Essential Phone announced in three new colors — Ocean Depths, Stellar Gray, and Copper Black — for $100 extra

The day before yesterday, we received word by way of a Twitter teaser that Essential was finally planning to release its hotly-anticipated Ocean Depths color. It turns out that Andy Rubin and friends actually had even more in store, with a Stellar Gray and a never-before-seen Copper Black also coming onto the scene. Unfortunately, these will cost $599 apiece — a full $100 over the price of a Moon Black or Pure White unit, and significantly more than the going rate.

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The first Android 8.1 beta is rolling out to the Essential Phone

Essential launched its first phone last year with Nougat, but it promised a quick update to Oreo. Well, sort of quick. We're still waiting for the final update, and the company recently decided to skip 8.0 altogether. Sure enough, the first Android 8.1 beta is rolling out as an OTA.

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