Starting today, consumers in the U.S. can pre-order a new ‘Halo Gray’ version of the Essential Phone via Amazon.
Besides its (admittedly handsome) matte finish, what’s special about this model is that it comes with Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant pre-installed.
In case three new Essential Phone colors weren't enough, today we're unveiling Halo Gray, the first Essential Phone to come with Alexa built-in. Halo Gray is available for pre-order exclusively from Amazon starting today. https://t.co/hkwkBKGypr pic.twitter.com/lDad2xngBq
— Essential (@essential) February 16, 2018
While we’ve seen several other Android OEMs include Alexa on their smartphones, this is the first Essential device to ship with Alexa. (No word yet on whether Essential plans to update existing Essential Phone models to add the personal helper.)
That said, it’s not surprising to see Alexa land on the Essential Phone; in fact, in some ways, it was only a matter of time.
On June 7th, 2017, Essential completed a $300 million USD Series B funding round led by, among other firms, the Amazon Alexa Fund. On its Crunchbase page, the firm says it provides up to $100 million in venture capital funding to companies involved in pushing “voice technology innovation.”
At the time, the firm, a subsidiary of Amazon, likely saw Andy Rubin’s new venture as a way beat Google on its own turf. Of course, whether the firm’s investment pays off will depend on how future Essential smartphones fare. According to IDC’s estimates, Essential shipped less than 90,000 Essential Phone units in 2017.
A spokesperson for Essential told MobileSyrup all the new colour variants the company announced this week, including the three models it announced on Thursday, are currently exclusive to the U.S.
In the U.S., the Halo Gray Essential Phone is priced at $450 USD.