We've been running the Essential Oreo Beta on our PH-1 over the past week and compiling a list of important changes. If you're interested in getting the Beta yourself, we even put together a quick guide on how to do that. Now that we've ran down the best new features, let's take a look at all of the bugs and performance issues in Android 8.0.
Many of the bugs mentioned here are listed in Essential's official release notes for the Beta Program. You should always read these notes carefully before installing Beta software on any device. We'll dive deeper into each of the bugs mentioned in the official notes, and toss in a few we've noticed on our own.
Essential mentions in the Beta release notes that users may experience additional battery drain when using Bluetooth devices. During our testing period, we've noticed that the drain is quite substantial. The PH-1 achieved just over four hours screen-on time while wearing a Gear S3 smartwatch paired via Bluetooth all day.
On the other hand, we were able to achieve just over five and a half hours without any Bluetooth devices paired. If you use a plethora of Bluetooth devices on a daily basis, you might want to skip the Beta update as this will likely be resolved before the stable build is released.
The release notes for the Beta also include a warning to Android Auto users. We tested our PH-1 on Oreo with the stock Android Auto head units on a 2016 Honda Accord Touring and a 2017 Audi A4. The phone paired and worked flawlessly with both cars. It appears that the issue with Android Auto is limited to certain car manufacturers and third-party head units — specifically Hyundai cars and SUVs.
With the Beta update, we've noticed that our PH-1 will occasionally show "Charging Slowly", even when connected to the stock QuickCharge 3.0 charger. This problem is easy to spot, as you will see "Rapidly Charging" text on the lock screen when the phone is charging properly. It is worth noting that this issue is intermittent and occasionally solved by unplugging the device and plugging it back in.
The new Notification Dots feature in Oreo is pretty slick. This simple visual cue indicates that you have pending notifications waiting inside a given app. With the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, these dots change color to match your icons. It seems that the dots on the Essential PH-1 are all the same shade of green. This could be done on purpose, but it's likely to be a small bug or oversight.
Much of the criticism surrounding the PH-1 at release centered on the overall scrolling lag and UI navigation issues. While those issues are not entirely resolved in Oreo, the scrolling and UI smoothness is greatly improved. We've noticed minimal lag on our device, and only when running multiple apps and attempting intense multi-tasking. Scanning the Reddit Megathread discussing the Beta reveals that most users are incredibly happy with the smoothness in Oreo.
Essential's Oreo Beta is very stable overall. If you're not a big Bluetooth device user, we would recommend it as a daily driver. The stability of this Beta may indicate that Essential will jump directly to the stable release without a second Beta build in between.
If you're running the Essential Beta, please comment below with any additional bugs or stability issues you've noticed. Don't forget to check back often as we update this list with any new issues we uncover.