Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin with an aim to create easy-to-use devices tailored for the most important needs, this week announced its cease of operations.

Andy Rubin, the man who headed creation of Google’s Android operating system, founded Essential back in 2015. It took the company two years to develop and build its first Essential PH-1 smartphone that came in a titanium body with a ceramic back, featured a minimalistic iPhone 5-like design, had a large edge-to-edge display with a raindrop camera for selfies, and ran ‘pure’ Android without any fancy UI. The handset looked rather innovative in 2017, but all of its main features (except expensive materials) appeared months later on cheaper or more popular devices, so the product lost a substantial part of its appeal. As a consequence, sales of the PH-1 were negligible.

After the company launched its first handset, it promised to release more hardware and software products, including a smart home assistant, a variety of accessories for the PH-1, and even its own operating system. Eventually, only a 360-degree camera, and a 3.5-mm audio jack adapter emerged on the market.

Back in October, the company introduced its Project Gem mobile experience, which involved a small smartphone with basic functionality, which was supposed to turn the company around, or at least attract new investors. Apparently, Essential does not have ‘a path’ to finish development of Gem, which is why (at least officially) it has to close its doors. (This means they had 'no avenue to deliver the product to consumers'.)

The statement from the company reads as follows:

“Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers. Given this, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential.”

Essential will cease offering updated Android OS to its PH-1 customers starting immediately and its February 3 security update is the last one for the PH-1 to be released by the company. Also, Essential will shut down Newton Mail service on April 30, 2020. Fans of the device who know how to build software, will be able to get prebuilt of the PH-1 vendor image and everything else needed to keep hacking the smartphone on Essential’s github.

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Sources: Essential

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  • Spunjji - Monday, February 17, 2020 - link

  • oRAirwolf - Thursday, February 13, 2020 - link

    I have a PH-1. I got it completely cherry for $100. I use it as a backup phone to my OnePlus 7 Pro. It is a phenomenal phone for what I paid. The materials and build quality are excellent. My only complaints are the dogshit camera software (made better but not great by Pixel camera app) and the LCD has a very slow response time. I see a lot of ghosting/smearing when scrolling. I am always impressed at the day one OS updates. I would get them weeks ahead of my Pixel phones. Honestly, it was a little irritating that my PH-1 would get updates so much faster than my Pixels. There really is no excuse for that on Google's part.
  • flyingpants265 - Thursday, February 13, 2020 - link

    Good, it was identical to every other phone on the market
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, February 16, 2020 - link

    Hey now, it's still got one of the best Screen-to-body ratios.
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - link

    They should have called it the Identical Phone.
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, February 16, 2020 - link

    I probably wouldn't have gotten it if it wasn't on sale, but I ended up paying less per-month on my cell phone bill because of it.
    The phone itself is really good, so I'm glad I got it. I'm just sad that the carrier only stocked the black ones, because those rusty red ones look amazing.

    This was my first Android phone to offer updates (yes, "Yikes"), and it's been giving me updates until this month!
  • Chaser - Monday, February 17, 2020 - link

    The man had a vision and starting up a large company is a tremendous risk today. It's too bad it failed. But could you guys peddle your petty politics elsewhere? I'll go to CNN, MSLSD, WAPO or others if I want to read pathetic diatribes.
  • Smell This - Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - link

    Good luck with that ... and, no.

    I, personally, would prefer jail-time and flogging as opposed to public humiliation, but to each their own. If you are not incensed you are not paying attention.

  • bull2760 - Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - link

    Sad to see so many Millennial's that have been brainwashed by today's educational system and media. Have you looked at your retirement portfolio yet? Have you bothered to look at the economy? The jobless rate in the country is the lowest since 1969. Yeah, your right things are just awful here. You know what you should all consider moving to Venezuela, China, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Syria. Those people are living high on the hog. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find one person out of any of those countries wanting to exchange their current living condition for yours. That’s because it’s not just one person but 688K people since 2018 have tried to get what you have by crossing the border illegally. What is it they know, and you can’t figure out? You are all ungrateful, selfish, ignorant, and to stupid to realize how good you have it.
  • Reflex - Thursday, February 20, 2020 - link

    OMG since someone, somewhere in the world has it worse than I do it means I'm not permitted to ever complain or try to improve things without being ignorant, ungrateful, selfish and stupid!

    Protip: How do you think we got nice things? People complained and then acted to change things for the better. There is little reason to stop trying to be better.

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