When a tech pioneer is known for having developed a major technological advancement in the past, savvy tech-users would be curious as to what new software system or hardware gadget he might cook up next. Andy Rubin, of course, is well known as the co-founder of Android, the ubiquitous mobile operating system (now owned by Google) that is the only consistent rival of Apple’s iOS. Rubin has since founded several other startups, the latest being Essential Products that is working on a same-named Android smartphone. Originally slated to come out a few weeks after its May reveals, the Essential Phone found itself delayed by a few months.

And when it finally started shipping this late August, some hiccups remained.

Leaking personal info

Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone has managed to impress early reviewers with its long battery life, clean design and tough construction, and the fact that it is not pre-loaded by both manufacturer and phone carrier with extraneous “bloat-ware” apps. But all these nice perks were irrelevant if the smartphone did not come out on its promised release date. Many customers who pre-ordered the Essential found their credit cards being charged even when no shipping notice has been sent to them yet.

But that is barely the end of the troubles for Essential. Some pre-order customers received email instructions from the manufacturer to verify their shipping addresses by sending personal info, in this case, driver’s licenses.

A foul-up in the verification process leaked the sent drivers’ licenses to other customers who got the email, not just Essential’s servers where the info would be confidentially kept and deleted once used for shipping. Rubin posted a blog entry on the Essential official website, apologizing for the sloppy process and confirming that only 70 pre-order customers were affected.

Troubled release

When Andy Rubin first introduced the Essential smartphone, he boldly proclaimed that it was designed as a serious dark horse competitor against Apple iPhones and fellow Android-using devices. His design focus was on modular accessories for the phone that will not become obsolete any time soon, as well as the propensity for bloat-ware that plagues other smartphones on the market.

It is therefore unfortunate that the actual rollout of the Essential Phone was so plagued with delays, and now non-secure pre-order verification. These problems can easily overshadow the many good things Essential has got going for it.

Essential, priced at $699, began shipping to customers on Friday, August 25, last week. It is available for order at their official website as well as the carrier Sprint, which offers the smartphone at $29.17 per month. Sprint is the only other non-essential app installed in the Essential’s clean and sparse menu interface as a result.