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3 min read 9 comments

No Essential Phone 2: Rubin's company reportedly up for sale

Essential, the start-up phone manufacturer co-founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, looks to be in trouble. It looks like the brand has canceled the follow-up to its Essential PH-1 flagship, and according to reports from Bloomberg, has hired an outside firm to help put the company up for sale.

The Essential Phone, or the PH-1, was a phone built with premium materials that focused on a minimalist and beautiful design, and was in many respects ahead of its time, compensating for the bezel-less screen with a distinctive early example of the display notch

Despite its problems, Andy Rubin's baby gained a small cult following among Android fans, many of whom piped up to sing the Essential Phone's praises right here in the AndroidPIT comment section. Unfortunately for those holding out for the sequel (PH-2? Kind of spoils the pun...), it looks like Rubin's company has canceled its second mobile device.

A source close to the company told Bloomberg that Essential is putting itself up for sale, and that the engineers, some of whom are Apple and Google veterans, will likely from part of the package. Bloomberg also reports that Essential is pivoting to the smart home, with a smart home product on track for next year.

Rubin: "We cancel some products in favor of bigger hits"

Andy Rubin commented on the situation via Twitter and quashed rumors that Essential would be closing up shop:

According to an internal email acquired by The Information, Rubin also says that Essential is not shutting down, instead "working with bankers to raise money." An acquisition would be just one possibility of getting the needed funds. 

Even if Essential stays afloat, it looks like we can kiss the dream of an Essential Phone 2 goodbye. The company reportedly sold only 150,000 units of the PH-1 and spent more than $100 million in development.

Even fans of the device have to admit this isn't a great return on investment for the company. Multiple price drops haven't really helped to shift units significantly, so it seems like the PH-1's big break just isn't going to happen after all.

Personally, I'm disappointed to see the Essential Phone sequel die like this. The PH-1 wasn't perfect by any means, but it in an increasingly monotonous smartphone market, it stood out for the singular vision of its design.

Were you looking forward to a new Essential Phone? Where do you think the company went wrong?

Source: Bloomberg

9 comments

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  • I bought one, in July, when they pretty much knocked the price down to REASONABLE price for a "no name" startup. Little over 1 month in, absolutely NO issues! Came with 7.1, when I plugged it in, went right to 9. Patches have come right on time. Hopefully, they continue, but THIS time, with a much more realistic attitude towards the pricing until they establish themselves.


  • I stopped reading at Bloomberg.


  • Sad to see that their struggling. It's healthy for the market to have another innovative player. Where they feel short was with getting carrier sponsorship and having the camera issues worked out before launch. Proves that you need more than the Rubin name to be successful in the smartphone industry.


  • Sorin 6 months ago Link to comment

    Essential PH-1 started from the beginning with the left, thought it would kick the phone with a pretty well-equipped phone, but with great price. It's the perfect recipe for disaster: a new name recently appeared on the market brings an exaggeratedly expensive phone.
    Who to buy it?!
    Only those who know the real value of the phone, but they are few.
    The market is now saturated with all sorts of phone models and if, at the same time, you come at a price that makes you snap out of the nose, then you will not be able to succeed.
    But I think the name of the phone will last for quite a while with a pleasant memory.


  • My guess is the main / only valuable innovation presumably supported by some valuable patents was the clip-on module interface and however far it got with the gadgetry for that. Being a few months ahead of the wave of no-bezel, notchy glass-backs doesn't qualify for the history books. Mainly the press was about a good but over-hyped and overpriced phone that needed more work (especially on the camera) that now it might not ever get.

    I always regret when an OEM with some good ideas goes under, not because I'd ever buy the phone but because those good ideas will eventually work their way down to my level of the food chain.


  • Update processor, RAM and camera.
    Keep the same form factor.

    If there is no PH-2, then for the build quality I have now become used to, I'll need to switch to Apple.


  • storm 6 months ago Link to comment

    As an American company, Essential saw its market as America. But they didn't have any carrier deals to get the phone before the users. The phone market in America is still dominated by the carriers and not unlocked phones. I have always been an unlocked pre paid phone user. It boggles my mind how my friends can dump money into carrier contracts for phones. And that's why Essential failed is they couldn't hook into that carrier sales cash flow.

    I have the PH-1 it's a good phone. I wouldn't say it's the best phone I've had. My favorite phones have been the Note 3 and the first Moto X Pure Edition. Those phones captured a certain ease of use that hasn't been replicated. The PH-1 has been best on regular security updates though.


  • No ph-2 essential, come on Andy say it ain't so. The ph-1 should be in the Guiness Book of Records with camera updates. (12) to be exact. I did like the build quality of this phone, I think Amazon should buy them, maybe they would have better luck. They certainly have the money!


    • As I look back on this phone it had problems from the get go. The delayed release and then the price of 699.00. I had thought Mr. Rubin the father of android was some genius type. I guess I was fooled. I gave him more credit then he deserved. Instead of trying to release a ph-2 he turns around & is trying to sell the business. As the ph-1 improved with updates, now he gives up. This is a crying shame for the people that believed in him & the consumer's that fell prey to his bullshit. I don't think very much with this decision! Hopefully someone will purchase this company that knows what their doing. He didn't!

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