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Essential to shut down, February update for Essential Phone to be the last

The company, started by Andy Rubin, released just one commercial smartphone.

Published onFebruary 12, 2020

In a blog post on the Essential website today, the company announced that it is ceasing operations immediately and permanently.

The company managed to release just one commercial smartphone in its short time in business: the Essential Phone. That device has received regular monthly updates since its release in 2017, sometimes even beating out Google Pixel phones. However, the update that landed on Essential Phones on February 3, 2020, will be its last.

The Essential Phone received lukewarm reviews when it launched with most of the negativity directed at its camera. Essential did fix a lot of the camera problems through software updates, but the phone still saw dismal sales.

Related: Essential Phone review: Maximum hardware, minimum software

Regardless, the PH-1 will live on in history as being the first commercial smartphone with a notched display. This design aesthetic would be copied by multiple smartphone companies in the following years, including Apple and Samsung.

Only a few months ago, Essential founder and CEO Andy Rubin — the primary creator of the Android operating system — caused a mild media frenzy when he posted images of a new kind of smartphone from the company. Referred to as Project Gem, the phone looked…interesting:

According to the blog post, though, Project Gem won’t see the light of day now that the company is closing up shop for good.

Finally, in a bit of surprise news in late 2018, Essential announced it had acquired the email app Newton Mail, formerly called CloudMagic. Unfortunately, with the dismantling of Essential, Newton Mail will also be retired. Current users have until April 30, 2020, to find a new email app.

If you are keen on smartphone tinkering, Essential will be posting a pre-build of its vendor image as well as anything else needed to hack the Essential Phone to GitHub. This should help the PH-1 live on in an unofficial capacity.

Otherwise, this is it. Pour one out for Essential.

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