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Essential is still struggling to make new colors of its phone

Essential is still struggling to make new colors of its phone

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Essential Phone
Photo: Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

It took Essential two extra months to ship the white version of its phone, and it sounds like it could be a couple months more before the company has put out all four colors that it promised at launch. In a Reddit AMA yesterday, Essential design VP Dave Evans wrote that the catchy “Ocean Depths” model still had “lingering issues ... that don't meet our standards.” It’s not totally clear how far from a launch it still is, but Evans said that it’s “getting so close.”

Before that happens, Essential expects to ship the matte black version of its phone, known as Stellar Gray. That model is coming “very soon,” according to Linda Jiang, Essential’s head of industrial design. Asked why the gray model was delayed, Essential product design director Will Leggett said that the company had to develop a new polishing process in order to get a uniform look and texture. It sounds like Essential has the process for this color mostly worked out, which would explain why the team seems confident in saying it’ll be shipping before the blue-green model.

A portrait camera mode is coming later this year

In fairness to Essential, it isn’t the first phone company to be stymied by new colors. Apple delayed the release of the white iPhone 4 by 10 months, and you can bet that Apple had a lot more engineers on the problem, and a lot more money to throw at it, than Essential does. And while these further delays aren’t great for a brand new company, new colors could help draw renewed attention to the Essential Phone, which recently saw a very steep price cut.

Bolstering that is the fact that Essential keeps on adding new features to its phones, albeit features that are standard on a lot of other flagship phones. In the AMA, the company says that it plans to add a portrait mode to its camera, because it can use the additional black and white sensor on the back to gather depth information. “Stay tuned, we aren't quite ready to put a release date on it,” writes Essential software VP Rebecca Zavin. “But we're aiming to get it to you in 2017.”

As for what comes after that, the company says it’s already “plugging away” at the Essential Phone 2. There aren’t any details to share yet, but the company seems very aware that people are interested in water resistance, which the first model lacked. “IP67 has been a resounding request from our customers,” Leggett writes. “The good thing is, this give me more fuel to push on Linda [Jiang, head of industrial design] for the next phone.”