Essential’s newest version of its Android smartphone has been released, with the hotly-anticipated Pure White Essential Phone finally arriving in stores. The smartphone initially went on sale in Sprint stores back in September, though despite initial suggestions by the company, only the Black Moon finish was offered. That, it turned out, was because making a white smartphone that stays white proved to be surprisingly tricky.
As Essential founder Andy Rubin admitted in August, the original matte white version the company had in mind proved just too prone to picking up the color from whatever pocket or purse it might be in. Keep the white Essential Phone in your jeans pocket, for instance, and it would soon end up with blue edges. Unusually, Rubin claimed, the problem was that the ceramic that the Pure White phone was made from was just too good: it acted as a very fine-grade sandpaper, grinding down whatever fabric it was near.
Whatever the reason, it’s the kind of issue that makes vocal critics out of early owners. Essential opted to hold the matte white version back, and only release the gloss black model instead. Now, it has a white Essential phone, though it’s still not matte finish.
Instead, it’ll be glossy like its black counterpart. A mild disappointment, certainly, but if you’ve been holding out it may be enough to get you to pull the trigger. Pricing is the same as for the black model, $699 for the unlocked device direct from Essential or Sprint. You can throw in the 360-degree camera for a further $179. It’s also being offered through Amazon and Best Buy.
It’s fair to say Essential hasn’t had an especially smooth launch for the smartphone. Hotly anticipated by fans of Andy “Father of Android” Rubin, the device caught would-be users attention with its promise of untampered Android, sturdier-than-usual build quality, and an unusual edge-to-edge display with a notch cut for the front-facing camera. The latter allowed the Essential Phone to offer a screen size akin to phablet-scale phones, but in a much more hand-friendly form factor.
Unfortunately, the perils of launching an all-new device quickly became clear. Software glitches affected initial OS builds, while the phone’s camera – despite aggressive promises by Essential – proved underwhelming. The company has released several firmware updates, and most recently promised an upcoming significant improvement to the phone’s photographic abilities, but it’s another example of how even established players in the tech space can run into early hiccups.