Essential Phone update adds Bluetooth 5.0, extra notch settings, and more

There's a new update making its way to the Essential Phone, and like we've come to expect from Andy Rubin's startup, there's a lot that's included.

This is a new version of Android 8.1 that Essential pushed to all users last month, and with it comes official support for Bluetooth 5.0 and the April 2018 security patch that Google just released for Pixel and Nexus devices about a week ago.

Also mentioned in the release notes for the update are modem stability fixes, better handling of external game controllers, improved performance, and bug fixes.

Shortly after the update was released, our friends at Android Police discovered something else that Essential forgot to mention — more controls over how apps interact with the phone's notch.

Assuming you have developer options enabled, head to Settings -> System -> Developer options -> Essential notch settings. Once you're here, you can set a default for how all apps should use the notch area or specify the behavior of the notch on a per-app basis. There are three options to choose from, including "Essential recommended", "don't use notch area in landscape", and "always use notch area." That last option could result in some apps looking a bit wonky if they haven't been updated to officially support notches, but it will help to make the Essential Phone feel as immersive as possible no matter what you're doing.

If you've got an Essential Phone, will you use these new settings to embrace the notch in all of your applications?

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Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.