Essential, the startup founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, has announced that it is shutting down in a blog post on its website. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, since the company has only one product in its smartphone portfolio, the Essential Phone (PH-1), that was announced way back in June 2017. Last October, Rubin teased Project GEM, Essential’s “radically different” smartphone with a tall form factor, but the company’s blog post says there is “no clear path to deliver it to customers”. Apart from Essential’s failure to launch additional devices, Rubin has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct during his time at Google, which surfaced a few years after he left the company in 2014.
“In October, we introduced Project GEM, a new mobile experience that our hardware, software and cloud teams have been building and testing for the past few years. Our vision was to invent a mobile computing paradigm that more seamlessly integrated with people’s lifestyle needs. 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’,” the company stated.
Essential has announced that the security update for the PH-1 rolled out on February 3rd is the final update for the device, although it will continue to work. Notably, the PH-1 received the Android 10 update in September last year on the day of the operating system’s release. The company’s paid-cross platform email app Newton Mail will continue to operate until April 30th. Developers can continue issuing custom ROMs on PH-1 as everything will be hosted on Essential’s GitHub. Essential’s exit from the smartphone market was long overdue, given that the company hasn’t launched a new phone since 2017.
The Essential PH-1 debuted with a unique design and premium build quality. It featured an all-screen display with a waterdrop notch. The device was powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. It packed a 3,040mAh battery and was priced at $699 (~Rs 49,966).