Earlier this month, Android 9 Pie hit the stable channel and the unlocked Essential PH-1 became one of the first devices to receive the update besides the Pixel lineup. Now, after a week of being available for the unlocked model, Essential started pushing out the latest Android version to the Sprint-locked variant of the handset. The company announced the news on Twitter and confirmed that the update is now being rolled out to Sprint customers. Essential previously remained vague on when the carrier model can be expected to get the Android 9 Pie update as the model in question likely required additional software optimizations given how it ships with a number of extra apps.
In one of its previous tweets, Essential had confirmed that the August security patches will indeed be a part of the Android 9 Pie build released for its high-end smartphone. Besides including the newest security patches, the Android 9 update brings some radical changes to the table, such as redesigned Android navigation keys meant to support gesture controls. The three navigation keys have been replaced by a single pill-shaped home button and a back button, while switching between apps is handled by multiple gestures. Some AI-based additions have now been baked into the OS itself which will help improve features like adaptive screen brightness and prioritize most used apps. Other than these, the newest Android release natively supports display cutouts, or notches as they're better known, which have now become an industry norm, for better or worse. Interestingly, the Essential Phone was the first contemporary handset to ship with a display notch, having done so months before Apple released the iPhone X last year.
For the Sprint-locked Essential PH-1, the update should pop up automatically, and if it still hasn't, you can head to the Settings menu to manually check for the Android 9 Pie. Essential announced this update only a few hours back and it is likely being rolled out in a gradual manner, meaning it can take up to a few days to reach all PH-1 units in the wild. While the Android 9 Pie build with the August security patch for the Essential Phone PH-1 has already been made available for download from the company's website, that particular software is only meant to be side-loaded onto an unlocked variant of the device.