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Essential

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Essential Camera app gets updated with portrait mode, reduced compression, and more

In spite of its fancy dual camera setup, the Essential Phone did not take great photos at the time of our review. Since then, Essential has been working hard on updating various aspects of the phone, including the camera software. Amidst Andy Rubin's leave of absence, the company has just released a new version of its Essential Camera app that adds portrait mode, reduced compression, and some other things.

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Andy Rubin takes leave of absence from Essential in wake of Google misconduct allegation

 

According to The Verge and other publications, Andy Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his company, Essential. The news followed hours after The Information broke a story that Rubin was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate while he led the Android team at Google.

The Information's story is light on details, but I'll present the facts and timeline, such as they are.

According to TI's story, Rubin was the subject of a complaint to Google's Human Resources division regarding an inappropriate relationship. The complaint was filed by the person whom Rubin was in the relationship with.

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[Insane Deal Alert] Essential Phone plus 360 Camera for just $399

The Essential Phone has kept getting cheaper recently, but we never dreamed we'd see a deal like this. Android's answer to the iPhone X, with its much less conspicuous notch, has been gradually dropping in price since it launched at $699 in the summer. We've recently seen it as low as $449.99 at various retailers, with its 360 Camera accessory also down to $49.99 (from $199.99). But Amazon now has a crazy deal offering the pair for just $399. This could be the best deal of the year.

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Here are all the phones updated to support Project Treble [Continuously Updated]

One of the most important features included in Android 8.0 Oreo is 'Project Treble,' Google's attempt to modularize Android. We covered it in detail here, but in a nutshell, Treble separates all the low-level device drivers (known as the 'vendor implementation') from the rest of Android. This makes updating phones/tablets to the latest version of Android much easier for manufacturers, as long as they already support Treble.

There's another major reason why Project Treble is getting people excited - custom ROMs. It is significantly easier to develop custom ROMs for phones with Treble, as opposed to ones without the feature.

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Google's Project Treble could start a custom ROM revolution

Android phone buyers have been begging Google for years to do something about the platform's typically slow updates. As of this month, Android 8.0 Oreo only has 0.3% market share among Android devices, Marshmallow (released in 2015) is still at 30%, and Lollipop (from 2014) sits at 27%. Google's latest attempt to solve this problem is 'Project Treble,' a major restructuring of Android that is part of 8.0 Oreo.

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Essential posts Oreo beta build for PH-1, finally provides Nougat factory images

Hot on the heels of Samsung and its Oreo beta for the Galaxy S8, for which an update has already been released, Essential has posted an Oreo beta image for owners to flash. Also now present are regular factory images, which were previously unavailable. The only caveat is that you must sideload it via ADB; there's no OTA.

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[Update: Black Moon back in stock] Essential Phone drops by another $50 to $449.99 at Best Buy and Amazon

Yes, you're reading that right - the Essential Phone (and its 360 Camera mod) are already getting another price drop, courtesy of Best Buy. Less than two weeks after the phone's official price drop to $499 (or $300 with the friends and family discount), Best Buy has dropped the Essential Phone's price by another $50 to $449.99. Plus, it's offering the 360 Camera, which has an MSRP of $199.99, for just $49.99. Essential is trying really hard to get rid of these things.

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Essential Phone drops from $1,050 to $650 in Canada

Late last month, Essential dropped the price of its flagship (and only) phone from $699 to $499 in the United States. While Essential said it lowered the price in order to help the company break into the smartphone market, it's also very likely that sales have been poor. A drop was also announced for Canada, but the new price wasn't revealed at the time.

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Essential rolling out OTA (build NMJ20D) with fingerprint sensor gestures, KRACK fix, and more

Essential's software on the Essential Phone had some issues at launch, but the team has rolled out multiple updates since then to resolve bugs and add new features. Today, the company is sending out a new build of Nougat with a fix for that troublesome KRACK vulnerability. It includes a few new things, too.

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Essential Phone goes down to an incredible $300 with friends and family discount

The Essential Phone wasn't at the top of our list when it came out, and while there were a lot of little reasons for that, the prime determiner of its value—and our disappointment—was the price. At $700 it wasn't really worth it. But when the phone dropped down to $500 earlier this week our opinion changed drastically. And now it turns out there's even a way to get one for just $300 plus taxes. That is, if you are lucky enough to know someone that plopped down the $700 full price.

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