The Essential Phone didn't have an easy go of things in its first few weeks on the market. Lauded for its incredible industrial design, the phone's software was barebones to a fault and its camera was criticized for its slow speed, poor low-light performance, and lack of features.

Now months later, Essential's marketing department peep-quiet, the phone has received numerous updates, many of which have improved the overall software experience while adding much-needed camera usability. It's not perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than when we reviewed it in late August.

Starting today, though, it's going to be easier to justify purchasing Essential's first hardware product: it's receiving a $200 price cut to $499 on the company's website, and existing buyers will get a Friends & Family coupon worth the same amount towards a new Essential Phone or a 360-degree camera add-on. From the company's blog:

At Essential, one of our driving principles is that premium craftsmanship and the latest technologies shouldn't be for the few. 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.

At $499, the phone is considerably more competitive against flagships like the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S8. Given that the price drop is only for the unlocked version directly sold from the company's website, it's unlikely to cause too much of a stir, but the move is appreciated nonetheless. Sprint, the Essential Phone's exclusive U.S. carrier, has dropped the price to around $350 when bought on a monthly finance plan, but still sells it for $699 outright. TELUS, Essential's Canadian carrier partner, sells the phone for free alongside a $95/month plan, but hasn't budged on the $1050 outright price, either. Relief is expected in the coming days, though.

With Android Oreo on the horizon, does the price drop to $499 make you more interested in the Essential Phone? Let us know in the comments below!