The Essential Phone has been one of the most polarizing devices of 2017. It had massive hype around it when Android legend and Essential founder Andy Rubin teased the phone on Twitter in March. Since then, the bezel-less phone has been the subject of delays, broken promises, and middling reviews. While most people have loved the design, the poor camera performance has been a true killer.
As we noted in our review, the Essential PH-1’s camera received three updates just during our review process. Those updates added an HDR mode and improved the speed, but pictures still didn’t rise to the quality of a 2017 flagship. Photos came out flatter than on other phones like the Google Pixel XL, even with HDR turned on.
It seems like Essential has been listening. Today, it took to its blog to announce a new update which will be rolling out soon. To get the update, you’ll need to install a system software update (system build NMI81C) and update the camera app through the Google Play Store. Essential says that the update improves latency, reliability, and performance of the camera. Here are the specifics:
- Boosted capture speed in regular and low light to below one second (over 40% faster)
- Improved brightness and performance in l0w-light
- Improved spacial sound when shooting in 360-degree mode (supported on the device and on Facebook and YouTube)
- Ability to use up and down keys as shutter buttons in 360-degree mode
- Countdown timer when in 360-degree camera mode
- Bug fixes and overall reliability improvements
Essential goes on to say that there are more improvements still in the works. It’s working on HDR improvements, live 360-degree streaming to Facebook and Periscope, animated 360-degree stills and filters, and Portrait and Pro modes. The Essential Phone has a dual-13 MP camera with one color and one monochrome lense. If this new update does drastically improve the camera performance, the Essential Phone could be a compelling option for those disappointed by the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.