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Essential Gains Oreo Beta, But Some Skill Needed to Install It

Nov 15, 2017, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products has made Android 8 Oreo available to its PH-1 smartphone in beta form. Essential hopes users will test the beta platform and report bugs or other problems so the code may be cleaned up ahead of the software's general release. The beta cannot be installed over the air and will require a bit of know-how to shoehorn onto the PH-1. Interested PH-1 owners will need to download the operating system to their PC and then sideload it to the handset via ADB. Anyone not familiar with that process should not attempt to install Android 8 Oreo on their PH-1. Essential did say that testers will be able to revert back to the latest production software if they find the beta too buggy. The beta will not negate the PH-1's warranty, though Essential warns that it has not been carrier tested. The instructions and necessary files are available from Essential's web site.


Essential's PH-1 Smartphone Gains a KRACK Patch

Oct 30, 2017, 5:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 30, 2017, 5:03 PM

Essential Products today said it has a new software patch for the PH-1 smartphone. The latest build (NMJ20D) improves touch scrolling, patches the KRACK wifi vulnerability, and makes other small tweaks and improvements along the way. The patch is small enough for an over-the-air download and is already being pushed out to PH-1 owners. Essential recently dropped the price of the PH-1 from $699 to $499. It is also offering additional discounts on some accessories, and PH1 purchases for those who've already bought at least one PH-1. The PH-1 was created by Andy Rubin, who helped develop the Android operating system. The PH-1 is a high-end device with large display, powerful camera, and Snapdragon 835 processor.


Essential Drops Price of PH-1 from $699 to $499

Oct 22, 2017, 6:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 23, 2017, 7:23 AM

Essential Products today dropped the price of its PH-1 smartphone by $200. In order to score the new price, consumers will need to order the phone from Essential.com. The company thanked its early supporters, who are being offered a $200 friends and family gift card toward the purchase of an Essential 360 Camera or another Essential PH-1. "At Essential, one of our driving principles is that premium craftsmanship and the latest technologies shouldn’t be for the few," explained the company in a blog post. "We could have created a massive TV campaign to capture your attention, but we think making it easier for people to get their hands on our first products is a better way to get to know us." Essential Products is spearheaded by Andy Rubin, who helped create the Android operating system. The PH-1 is a high-end handset with a large screen, bezel-less design, and top specs. The phone received mixed reviews when it went on sale earlier this year, mainly due to the camera. Essential has pushed several updates to improve the camera since its release. Sprint is the only U.S. operator that sells the Essential. The company has been offering a half-off lease program on the PH-1 for several weeks. "At $14.58 per month on Sprint Flex, Sprint still offers a better value on Essential Phone" than even Essential's new lower price. "Our current offer is 50% off the standard lease price," said Sprint to Phone Scoop via email. Sprint's lease program for the Essential PH-1 lasts 18 months.


Andy Rubin's Essential Sued Over Magnetic Connector Tech

Oct 16, 2017, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A company called Keyssa has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Essential, the maker of the PH-1 smartphone, backed by former Google exec Andy Rubin. The lawsuit pertains to magnetic wireless connectors that can pass information and current from one device to another, such as the magnetic module accessory system used on the PH-1. According to Keyssa, Essential worked with the company for period of 10 months on the magnetic technology and was given trade secrets under non-disclosure agreement during that time. Eventually the relationship between the two companies dissolved and Essential picked magnetic components from a third company called SiBEAM for the PH-1. Keyssa alleges that even though Essential is using different hardware for its phone, the technology couldn't have been recreated without Keyssa's protected intellectual property. "Keyssa has not been compensated for Essential’s use of this guidance and know-how," said Keyssa in a statement provided to Reuters. "We are pursuing this action because our attempts to resolve this matter through discussions with Essential have not been successful." Keyssa is backed by Tony Fadell, who co-created the iPad when at Apple. Keyssa filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco. Essential did not offer an immediate comment on the matter.


Essential Boosts Camera Performance via System Update

Oct 6, 2017, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says the camera in its PH-1 smartphone should be just a bit better now thanks to some updates. The company has boosted capture speed in regular and low-light environments, as well as improved brightness and performance in low-light images. The company updated its 360-degree camera accessory, too, which can now capture spatial sound when shooting video. The volume up/down keys act as shutter buttons in 360 mode, and can act as a countdown timer if so desired. In order to score these changes, PH-1 owners will need to update to the latest system build (NMI81C) and then update the camera application via the Google Play Store. Essential has more updates planned for its camera app (better HDR, portrait, and pro modes) planned for the weeks ahead.


Essential Says PH-1 to Get Oreo In Next Couple of Months

Sep 18, 2017, 6:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products today indicated that its smartphone, the PH-1, will eventually receive the latest system update from Google. "Get your milk ready — #AndroidOreo is coming soon to Essential Phone. Watch for updates in the next couple months," said the company through its Twitter account. So far, Android 8 Oreo is only available to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P handsets. Sony's Xperia XZ1 will ship with Oreo in several weeks. Motorola has committed to updating a slew of its mid-range and high-end phones to Oreo over the next few months. Other flagship makers, including Samsung and LG, have been less clear on when their high-end phones will see Oreo.


Essential Phone Now Compatible with Verizon's Network

Sep 18, 2017, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.


Essential Phone Lands at Sprint Tomorrow

Sep 13, 2017, 2:39 PM   by Rich Brome

Sprint today announced that the Essential Phone will go on sale through all Sprint channels — including stores — on September 14th. The high-end, bezel-free phone is already available unlocked.


Sprint Taking Preorders for the Essential PH-1

Aug 17, 2017, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today began accepting preorders for the Essential PH-1 smartphone. Sprint is offering the phone at a significant savings through its lease program when compared to buying the phone outright directly from Essential. The PH-1 is available to Sprint customers for $14.58 per month through a Sprint Flex 18-Month Lease, which totals about $260 under the full retail cost of $699. At the end of the lease period, Essential lessees can opt to pay off the balance or turn the phone in for something else. Sprint is also offering the Essential 360-degree modular camera attachment for $199, or $16.67 per month for 12 months on an installment plan. The black version will be available in stores within a few weeks, according to Sprint, with the white model following at a later date. Sprint says the phone supports three-channel carrier aggregation on its network and can hit theoretical download speeds in excess of 200 Mbps. Essential recently emailed customers who preordered the phone and informed them that the PH-1 will ship in about a week. The Essential PH-1 has a bezelless design, a magnetic mod system, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.


Essential Moves Closer to Phone Debut, But Still No Date

Aug 9, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says it will reveal the launch date of its PH-1 smartphone within one week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company first said the phone would launch within 30 days of its initial debut, which took place back in May. When the phone hadn't appeared by mid July, CEO Andy Rubin said the Essential Phone would arrive "in a few weeks." That time frame has come and gone and there's still no firm release date for the phone. Beyond the launch date, Essential confirmed to the Journal that the phone will be sold by Amazon.com and Best Buy in the U.S. in addition to Sprint, which is the only U.S. carrier that has agreed to distribute the phone. The Essential PH-1 has a bezelless design, a magnetic mod system, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor. It is priced at $699.


Sprint to Sell Rubin's Essential Phone As an Exclusive

Jun 12, 2017, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products has found a U.S. carrier to distribute its Essential PH-1 handset, and that carrier is Sprint. Essential still plans to offer the unlocked phone directly to consumers online, but the handset will also enjoy retail presence in Sprint stores, according to USAToday. "We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” said Essential President Niccolo de Masi to USA Today. "I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future." This isn't the only reason. Sprint is majority owned by SoftBank, and Andy Rubin, Essential's CEO, has a long history with Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's CEO. As recently as early this year, SoftBank was expected to make a $100 million investment in Essential, though it backed out for unknown reasons. "It's certainly conscious for us to work with partners that can make an investment in supporting our brand ambitions," continued to de Masi, "and it's an approach that obviously Andy Rubin has been very successful with in the past as well as a lot of our management team." The PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. The PH-1 is expected to go on sale later this summer for $699.


Andy Rubin's Essential PH-1 Boasts Titanium Frame, Magnetic Mods

May 30, 2017, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products, the startup being run by Andy Rubin, who helped create the Android operating system, announced its first smartphone today, the PH-1. The PH-1 is a high-end handset crafted from a titanium shell that Rubin claims is more robust than aluminum and more resistant to damage when dropped. The phone has a ceramic back plate and a Gorilla Glass front. Similar to the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, the PH-1 adopts a near two-one aspect ratio for the display, which measures 5.71 inches across the diagonal and includes 2,560 by 1,312 pixels. The 19:10 shape fills nearly the entire front face of the phone, features rounded corners, and includes a unique cutout for the user-facing camera. Twin rear-mounted magnets positioned on the rear panel of the phone accommodate removable modular accessories, including a 360-degree camera. The system is similar to that of the Moto Z series handsets from Motorola, though the mods don't cover the entire rear of the PH-1. The magnetic pins provide power to the accessories, which connect to the handset via WiGig for transferring data back and forth. A pair of f/1.85 13-megapxiel cameras adorn the rear of the phone, one shooting full color and the other shooting monochrome. The cameras rely on a hybrid phase detect and infrared laser-assistant auto focus system. The front camera shoots 8-megapixel images at f/2.2 and can capture 4k video. Other specs include a 64-bit Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 570 GPU, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. It is sold unlocked and includes support for U.S. carriers (including GSM, CDMA, and LTE), as well as Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. The PH-1 has a built-in 3,040mAh battery that charges rapidly, USB-C, four microphones for noise cancellation, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Essential is taking reservations for the PH-1 starting today. The phone costs $699. For a limited time, people who preorder can snag the phone and magnetic 360-degree camera for $749 (savings of $150). The phone comes in black, gray, white, and green, and runs Android. Essential didn't say when the phone might ship.

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