Essential team takes to Reddit AMA, promises Oreo update and Verizon certification

After a few delays, the Essential Phone was finally released last month to awaiting fans and critics. While the Phone certainly has a nice design and exotic materials, there are parts of the device that are a bit of a compromise at the retail price of $700. In our review we noted that the camera felt far from finished, and general issues with stability have been ongoing despite multiple OTA updates since.

In a Reddit AMA today, Essential co-founder Andy Rubin (as well as other Essential staff members) responded to numerous questions regarding the camera and stability problems the Essential Phone is facing, as well as other questions on the community's mind. Rubin himself says the team is happy with the hardware of the camera, and they're still working on tuning it in software. That's fortunate since it means the issues can (technically) be fixed for existing users, rather than having to wait for a hypothetical Essential Phone 2 to get a great (or even acceptable) camera experience. But before they get there, they're also nearing completion of an update to fix the major bugs and crashes users are currently facing.

The first goal is stability and bug fixes ... then we get better performance and Oreo.

Elsewhere, the team says that kernel sources and factory images will be released in the next few days. That will be very beneficial for custom ROM developers to learn just how the phone ticks, while the factory images are always a great way to get back to safety after some experimentation. In the same comment, the Essential team said that Android 8.0 Oreo will be released for the device in the next month or two. Given how little Essential has customized in terms of interface, it should be pretty straightforward to build the upgrade. Interestingly enough, Oreo will also make the device compliant with Project Treble. There will also be a beta track for enthusiasts who want to test upcoming releases.

We may actually have cases to choose from soon — and you can buy it all in Europe!

One of the unique but currently underutilized features of the Essential Phone is the modular pogo pins on the back. The only shipping accessory at the time of writing is the 360-degree camera attachment. Next up will be the already announced charging dock, followed by a high-end 3.5mm headphone jack attachment (sigh). As far as third party accessories go, companies will soon have a reference design to build off of, and there will be cases from "several brands" soon — the latter being a real pain point of early Essential Phone buyers.

While the release of the phone is now mostly complete in North America, Essential is looking at releasing the device in Europe soon. A mark of progress is an EU-compliant power adapter being completed this month. Back in the U.S., the company is also in the process of certifying the device to work on Verizon. It already has all of the radio bands necessary, but without official certification the phone won't work with Verizon's advanced features like VoLTE. That should be finished in the coming days, Essential says.

That's a whole lot to digest, but it's great information. Surely it raised a few more questions as well — let us know what you're thinking in the comments below!

Tom Westrick