It's been a surprisingly long wait for the new Essential Phone, which Android co-founder Andy Rubin announced in May. At the time, Rubin said that his company "wouldn't be taking reservations if it wasn't going to ship in 30 days or so", but two and a half months later, no-one has received their devices yet.
Yesterday, Essential began emailing customers who had registered for the device, telling them that it was time to pay up, and that their handsets would "ship within 7 days". Today, it announced that the "Essential Phone is available on Essential.com, Sprint and Best Buy", but that's somewhat misleading.
The company's site still isn't actually accepting orders for the device, and continues to state that it's only available "for reservation". At Best Buy, the Black Moon model won't be delivered until September 1 at the earliest, while the Pure White version is simply listed as "not available". According to Sprint, the "latest shipping estimate" is August 28 for the black model, and the white handset isn't listed there at all. Sprint generously offers to let you "order online, we'll charge your card for your phone today."
Regardless of what Essential says, its phone clearly isn't "available" yet - these are pre-orders, and it won't be available until almost three months after the device was announced.
As part of its announcement today, Essential revealed that its device "will get guaranteed Android OS updates for 2 years and will get monthly security updates for 3 years."
That's on par with most high-end Android handsets, including Google's Pixel flagships. However, it's still far worse than what iPhone owners can expect. Essential says that owners of its phone can expect it to "always be secure and have the latest features" - but the two-year window for OS updates is considerably less than what Apple provides to owners of its devices. When Apple rolls out iOS 11 in the next few weeks, the oldest eligible handset will be the iPhone 5s, which was released four years ago.
Essential has said nothing about how long it will take to bring those updates to its $699 smartphone after they're released by Google.
The company also announced today that it will "release new wireless accessories (like our snap-on 360º Camera) every few months." Those who
buy pre-order the Essential Phone now can get the camera add-on for $50, rather than paying its full $199 price.