Essential might have tried to pull a Google in more ways than one. After all, it did have Android creator Andy Rubin behind it. It shipped a pretty Android phone unencumbered by bloatware of any kind. It was almost perfect, except for one thing that has become critical to today’s smartphone market: the camera. Thankfully, Essential isn’t as deaf as some might think it is and promises to do better in the next Essential phone, whose launch is still unknown at this point.
Very few will probably complain about the Essential PH-1’s other traits. It shipped with the best of the best hardware and a lean and clean Android experience. And while Essential’s first smartphone initially shipped with a premium price tag, it quickly cut down prices to give its rivals a run for their money.
Essential belongs to the new generation of Android phones shipping almost “pure” Android, allowing them to iterate over update faster than the bigger and more bloated phones. Essential just rolled out Android 8.1 Oreo last month and it is already bringing out another update. This gives the smartphone the latest April security patch, adds Bluetooth 5.0 certification, and improves performance with game controllers. Whether the Essential PH-1 can now stream to multiple devices, one Bluetooth 5’s biggest features, is still unverified. According to Android Police, the update also sneaks in an option to change how apps behave with the notch, forcing them to either use it or ignore it completely.
But while Essential’s software performance is almost blameless, it has been widely criticized for its camera. It has pushed out firmware updates that improve performance just a bit, perhaps trying to emulate Google’s software-based solution. Software, however, can only do so much before a hardware upgrade is needed. That upgrade will come in the next iteration, promises Essential industrial design head Linda Jiang in an interview with Business Insider.
This is the first time the company has acknowledged in any formal capacity what could be called the Essential PH-2. Of course, that’s pretty much a given considering how the PH-1 was warmly received, despite the camera shortcomings. No date has been leaked yet, or even specs or features, though Jiang notes they are also looking into making the glass back less slippery and less prone to falling from users’ hands.