Essential Phone users will get a taste of Android 11 but no official update

The Essential Phone
The Essential Phone (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Essential will let users flash the Android 11 Developer Preview on their devices.
  • The firm made a few public code-commits on their GitHub repo aimed at improving Essential Phone compatibility with Android 11's Generic System Images.
  • Essential was shut down this month, with all official updates and support for the Essential Phone going forward being necessarily discontinued.

Essential Phone users won't be getting the full Android 11 update, but at least they won't be left completely high and dry. The team is working on improved compatibility with the Android 11 Developer Preview's Generic system Images (GSIs) to bring the upcoming Android update to pre-existing devices.

As per Google, a GSI is a " system image with adjusted configurations for Android devices. It's considered a pure Android implementation with unmodified Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code that any Android device running Android 8.1 or higher can run successfully."

Ongoing work on this project was spotted on GitHub (via XDA Developers), after which Essential's Jean-Baptiste Théou confirmed that it would be coming to the community after a "review and validation" period.

Essential shut down earlier this month after it no longer saw a path to success. The firm had planned a sequel to the Essential Phone, known as Project GEM. With the company shut down, there aren't any more software updates incoming. However, with this project, users will be able to make the leap to Android 11 with a little bit of work. And if they can't be bothered? That's fine too. They can stay supported on Android 10.

Android 11 is Google's next big Android update. While larger, user-facing features are expected to be announced at Google I/O, the firm's already teased a few powerful features like messaging improvements with bubbles, improved focus on 5G, and more powerful permissions controls in its first developer preview.

Android 11: Everything you need to know!

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Michael Allison