Smartphone startup Essential on Friday launched a new color variant of its first Android flagship, debuting it in the form of the Essential PH-1 Halo Gray. The model was announced mere hours after the company already confirmed the general availability of three other new versions of the device – Ocean Depths, Stellar Gray, and Copper Black. Unlike the initially unveiled set of colors, the Halo Gray variant of the Essential PH-1 is available for pre-orders exclusively on Amazon, priced at $449.99 that's also currently attached to the other models. It's presently unclear whether the firm will eventually begin retailing it directly or make it available to its sole wireless carrier Sprint, with the Halo Gray version of the Essential PH-1 still not having a firm release date. Besides a unique finish, the Halo Gray model also boasts native support for Amazon's artificial intelligence assistant Alexa.
Originally released in August, the first device produced by the company started by Android co-creator Andy Rubin was initially planned to debut in a plethora of colors but many of them ended up being delayed as the firm's suppliers needed more time to start mass-producing units that meet the design team's quality standards. The device itself has been met with a mixed response from both critics and consumers, with many praising its bezel-less design and modular capabilities but being disappointed by its initial $699.99 price tag and an underwhelming camera. While the company promptly dropped the price of the handset by $200 and offered to reimburse the difference to its early adopters in the form of coupons, the device itself underperformed to a significant degree, according to a number of industry trackers. As per IDC's latest estimate, the Palo Alto-based startup shipped less than 88,000 units in the final three months of 2017 and is hence unlikely to have surpassed 100,000 shipments by a significant margin in the last half a year since the release of its debut product.
In the run-up to the launch of the Essential PH-1, a company representative said a million sales could be considered a major success for its first Android handset, though the firm doesn't appear to be anywhere close to even reaching that mark in terms of shipments. It's presently unclear whether the Essential PH-1 will receive a successor over the course of this year but the startup may share more details on its future plans later this month as it will have an official presence at Barcelona-based MWC 2018, having already paid for a booth at the mobile industry's largest annual trade show.