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PH-1

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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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Essential's stunning 'Ocean Depths' color for the PH-1 is coming on February 15th

The Essential PH-1 is easily one of the most beautiful smartphones on the market, with its almost-nonexistent bezels and ceramic back. Back in October, the company released a 'Pure White' version of the PH-1 that looked fantastic, but white isn't really a very special color. If you want special, you'll have to look to the Ocean Depths color, which Essential is now teasing a launch date of February 15th for.

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Essential Phone camera update adds autoHDR mode and improves performance

The Essential Phone has the hardware to compete with phones that cost much more than its revised $500 price, but specs aren't everything. Case in point: the camera. The Essential Phone has a pair of 13MP camera sensors, but the performance was poor. Essential has been working to improve it with updates, and the latest one claims to address HDR. There's finally an autoHDR mode and a new HDR algorithm.

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Essential announces plans to skip 8.0 Oreo release in favor of 8.1, citing stability concerns

Essential—the phone company led by Android co-founder Andy Rubin—has had some difficulty in getting a stable 8.0 Oreo update released. After three beta releases, the company is not quite satisfied that the update is ready for general release. Because of these protracted issues, Essential has announced plans to skip the 8.0 release entirely in favor of 8.1, which will "push the public release back a couple weeks," according to the company.

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Essential Phone Oreo Beta 3 now available for download

It's been almost a month since Essential rolled out the second Oreo beta for its phone. If you were hoping for a final release, that's not happening yet. Essential has, however, released a third Oreo beta for the Essential Phone. It includes new security patches and minor fixes.

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Essential has some new accessories available, including USB-C earbuds and a fast charger

To say it's been a bumpy ride for Essential would be an understatement. After the initial hype surrounding the company's first phone died down, reviews were lukewarm and strong sales failed to materialize. Considerable price drops have followed, and there's also been controversy surrounding founder Andy Rubin and alleged inappropriate behavior. That said, there are some positives for owners of the device, with Essential quick to deliver updates and make improvements.

The world's smallest 360-degree camera made the headlines as a launch accessory for the phone, but the company has just added a few more items to its online store.

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Essential Phone Oreo Beta 2 now rolling out with more 8.0 features and bug fixes

The Essential Phone might not have been our favorite, but the company has been undeniably quick with updates. Essential first rolled out the Android Oreo 8.0 beta program for the PH-1 back in November, and now, a month later, the Beta 2 OTA is rolling out. According to the changelog, this latest build includes the December security patches, Oreo features like Smart text selection, instant apps, PiP mode, Google Play Protect, as well as performance improvements and bugfixes.

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Only around 50,000 units of the Essential Phone have been sold, according to its camera app's install figures from the Play Store

By now, it should be apparent that the Essential Phone hasn't sold in the numbers that Andy Rubin and co. had thought it would. Having started at an MSRP of $699, the PH-1 dropped to $499 just two months after release (and to $650 CAD in Canada). On top of that, there have been numerous opportunities to get the phone for even more cheaply, including through a $200 friends-and-family discount and an incredible Cyber Monday Amazon deal. After all this, it looks like Essential has only sold around 50,000 units of the PH-1, if install figures from the Play Store of the Essential Camera are to be trusted.

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