Essential Phone Oreo update released in beta

There's another good reason to pick up an Essential Phone, with the company releasing its Android Oreo beta today. The new software has been pushed out via Essential's developer site, fulfilling its promise back in October to quickly move users to the latest version of Android.

Of course, this isn't necessarily something every user should jump on quite yet. Essential is targeting the first release at developers, and there may well still be bugs in the beta. The company will be hosting an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") for developers tomorrow, from noon Pacific time, for questions around Oreo.

All the same, it's a welcome upgrade, and notable given most of the rest of the Android smartphone world is yet to get up to speed with Oreo. Google's latest release may have been pushed out the door months ago, but that doesn't mean it's available for even a fraction of the devices currently in the wild. Indeed, the Oreo install rate is fairly pitiful right now.

According to Google's own numbers, only 0.3-percent of active Android devices are running Oreo today. Indeed, the majority of devices are still on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, though Android 7.0 Nougat is just a fraction of a percentage point behind. However you look at it, this is something Essential deserves credit for.

Whether it'll silence some of the lingering complaints around the Essential Phone remains to be seen. The company has been pushing out regular updates to address things like camera performance, but the handset is still getting mixed reviews from users.

Essential responded with a significant price cut. You can now pick up the smartphone for just $499, several hundred dollars less than it launched at only a few months ago. Given its distinctive design and intriguing modular potential, suddenly it makes the handset look like something of a bargain.

Indeed, if you're in the market for the smallest bezels around in an Android phone, a decent screen, excellent build quality, and don't mind taking the risk on something that isn't made by Samsung, LG, or Motorola, there's still a lot to like about the Essential Phone. Our early criticisms have been tempered somewhat by its now far-more-affordable price tag, and Essential delivering on its Oreo promise suggests the software story is balancing out too. You can download it from the link below.

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