If Andy Rubin’s Essential Products startup is doomed to fail in the hypercompetitive smartphone business, it won’t be for want of trying.

The ex-Googler has sure gone the extra mile to communicate with the company’s early fans, personally apologize when needed, answer “essential” questions, provide solid software support, and fix the many camera performance issues reported by PH-1 users.

It’s no secret that the 5.7-incher’s dual 13MP shooters have been its primary weakness right off the bat, but even in Rubin’s absence, Essential continues to regularly improve the proprietary camera app.

The latest of six, yes, six Play Store updates adds a universally requested Portrait Mode to a technically robust list of features pertaining to “the world’s thinnest dual camera system built for a phone”, consisting of color and monochrome sensors.

Finally, the Essential Phone joins the likes of the iPhone X, 8 Plus, 7 Plus, Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Huawei P10 in blurring the background of your top-notch snapshots to focus squarely on the person (or pet) in front of you.

Other smaller enhancements include general stability fixes, reduced JPEG compression for better image quality, and exposure compensation for all regular camera modes.

Looking ahead, the company’s already customary bi-weekly Reddit AMA revealed a second Android 8.0 Oreo beta build is coming next week. Version 8.1 of Google’s newest OS flavor will also be released “as soon” as possible, while the next-generation Essential Phone shall focus among others on repairability in response to iFixit’s strong criticism of the original.

That obviously means a PH-2 is in the works, in case you had your doubts, but first, a couple of extra paint jobs will see daylight for the PH-1. The “Stellar Gray” should be “finished before the end of the year”, with an “Ocean” flavor as-yet undated for a commercial rollout.

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