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73 'Essential' stories

January 2017 - April 2022


Essential Stories April 7

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The now-defunct Essential only ever released its PH-1 smartphone, a device I personally loved. But before that, the company had promised to release “Essential Home,” a unique smart speaker that unfortunately never made it to market. Now, though, a prototype has popped up online.

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Essential Stories December 22, 2021

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Essential employed a lot of talented folks, which was perhaps the saddest part of the death of the Essential PH-1 and the company behind it. However, many members of that team have been working on a new company, OSOM, which is today finally offering a first look at its upcoming OV1 smartphone.

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Essential Stories February 15, 2021

Essential x Nothing
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After a series of launch teasers and little information on upcoming product lines, Carl Pei’s flegling technology brand Nothing is now the sole owner of the one-time smartphone brand Essential.

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Essential Stories March 19, 2020

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After just a couple of short years, Essential closed up shop earlier this year after bringing just a single smartphone to market. Now that all of its future plans have been scrapped, a former Essential designer is showing off what the Essential PH-2 and PH-3 smartphones would have looked like and offered.

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Essential Stories February 12, 2020

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The Essential Phone — PH-1 — debuted back in 2017 with the promise of premium hardware and clean software. Quickly, though, that vision started to fail as initial reviews were negative and prices were slashed as a result. Now, as the company shuts down, the Essential Phone is getting an abrupt end to software updates.

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Essential Products announced today that it’s ceasing operations and shutting down. Founded by the controversial Andy Rubin, the start-up last August showed off a radical ‘GEM’ smartphone.

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Essential Stories October 8, 2019

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Last month, Essential confirmed that its second device is “in testing” as some specs emerged. CEO Andy Rubin today shared some wild images of a very narrow candy bar-style touchscreen prototype that could be the next Essential Phone.

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Essential Stories September 23, 2019

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The original Essential Phone continues to impress when it comes to updates, but it has been over two years since its debut at this point. There have been teases of a second device, probably a phone, coming from Essential before, but today the company has confirmed that device is in testing.

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Essential Stories June 11, 2019

Essential CEO replies to 9 month old tweet to suggest new phone is coming

It’s been nearly two years since the Essential PH-1 made its debut, and several months since the phone was discontinued. Today, Essential CEO Andy Rubin mysteriously replied to an old Twitter thread about a second Essential Phone, and he’s implying that a new device is incoming.

Essential Stories March 4, 2019

Essential Phone adds support for Google’s Digital Wellbeing w/ March security patch, available now

Despite the fact that the device is no longer being made, Essential is keeping its promise when it comes to software updates. This afternoon, the company is just a couple of hours behind Google with its latest security patch, as well as delivering support for Digital Wellbeing on the Essential Phone.

Essential Stories December 28, 2018

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The past year hasn’t been kind to Essential, the startup behind 2017’s PH-1. Now, the company has confirmed to 9to5Google that the Essential Phone won’t be restocked as the company shifts its focus to future products.

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Essential Stories December 7, 2018

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Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing a lot surrounding Essential, but very little of it has been good news. Today, following an earlier report, it’s been confirmed that the Andy Rubin startup has acquired CloudMagic, the company behind Newton Mail.

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Essential Stories November 13, 2018

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While Essential might not be in the greatest spot right now with trouble from its founder and massive layoffs, the company has just launched a new product. Ages after its announcement, the Essential Audio Adapter HD is now available.

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Essential Stories October 17, 2018

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The Essential Phone found success only after various fire sales and price cuts that made the device a true bargain. It comes as the company reportedly canceled development of its second phone in May and paused its smart home product. A new report today reveals that the Andy Rubin company is cutting 30% of its staff.

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Essential Stories October 10, 2018

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Despite its flaws, the Essential Phone is still by far one of my favorite devices to come out of the past year or so. While previous reports claimed that Essential was done and had scrapped plans for future devices, a new report from Bloomberg claims that the company has a new device in the works, this time with a twist.

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Essential Stories October 1, 2018

Essential Phone update brings back notch settings, delivers October security patch

Another month, another Essential Phone update that rivals Google’s Pixel phones. Just minutes after the security patch launched, Essential has already made it available to PH-1 owners, and it comes with a welcome treat in tow.

Essential Stories September 4, 2018

Essential Phone picks up September security patch and assorted bug fixes in update

Outside of Google, Essential is easily the fastest OEM when it comes to updates of any kind. Now, just a few hours after Google posted factory images for Pixel devices, the Essential Phone is picking up September’s monthly security patch.

Essential Stories August 3, 2018

Essential promotes software lead Rebecca Zavin to Chief Technology Officer

Since launch, Essential has noticeably improved the software experience of its flagship Phone, while pushing out monthly security patches and Android P Betas in line with Google. The company today promoted the vice president tasked with software engineering to Chief Technology Officer.

Essential Stories July 2, 2018

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While Essential might not be doing too hot in sales, the company is rivaling Google for the crown when it comes to updates. Just an hour after Google, the startup is already rolling out two new updates for Essential Phone owners.

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Essential Stories June 13, 2018

Essential Phone camera update improves camera roll, ‘Tiny Planet,’ etc

One of the biggest deal breakers with the Essential Phone at launch was its poor camera performance. Over the phone’s lifecycle, though, Essential has made it a point to improve that in updates. Today, yet another update is rolling out.

Essential Stories June 6, 2018

Essential Phone is receiving the latest Android P build w/ bug fixes & June security patch

The third Android P Developer Preview started rolling out to Pixel devices today with the final APIs, SDK, and Play Store publishing. Now, not even a day later, Essential has announced that this build of Android P will be making its way to the Phone with a handful of bug fixes.

Essential Stories May 30, 2018

Essential reaffirms Pixel-like update policy for PH-1 despite rumors of company sale

The Essential PH-1 was one of the devices I really wanted to love last year, but it fell flat at launch leading to massive price cuts and a lot of updates to try and fix the issues. Now, it’s a pretty solid device.

Lately, the company’s outlook has taken a turn for the worse with reports of the company being in trouble and considering sale. Despite that, though, Essential is sticking to its guns when it comes to updates.

Essential Stories May 24, 2018

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Essential, a company created by the co-founder of Android, Andy Rubin, wanted to create not only a phone but also an ecosystem that would best any smartphone manufacturer out there. Unfortunately, likely due to poor sales, a report has emerged that states the second-generation Essential Phone has been canceled and the company might be up for sale.

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Essential Stories May 4, 2018

Essential Phone camera update improves photo capture speed and burst mode

Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone wasn’t the hit many hoped it would be, but it brought a lot of good things to the table. One of those good things, however, definitely wasn’t the camera. At launch, the camera was pretty bad, but Essential has made it much better through updates, and now another update is working on capture speed.

Essential Stories March 5, 2018

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The “notch” is a controversial topic for the Android world. Some absolutely hate it, others don’t, but we’re all clear on one thing — it’s not something we necessarily want to have on our phones. At MWC 2018 this past week, Vivo showed off a device that managed to avoid a notch, but still offer the sensors one would typically hold. As it turns out, Essential was actually the first company who was working on that same idea, though…

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Essential Stories February 28, 2018

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An analysis of security updates for different smartphone brands reveals the safest brands to buy, and it doesn’t make for great reading.

Only two Android brands managed halfway decent ratings, with many big brands being rated poorly …

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Essential Stories February 27, 2018

Essential Phone camera update brings front-facing ‘flash’ and Tiny Planet 360 mode

The Essential Phone’s camera has seen a lot of updates since its debut, and aside from improving the quality, it’s added a lot of features as well. Now, in the latest update, Essential has added two new features.

Essential Stories February 15, 2018

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The Essential Phone is one of the best looking phones on the market today, and now it’s launching three stunning new limited edition color variants.

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Essential Stories February 13, 2018

Essential teases new ‘Ocean Depth’ Phone variant, coming February 15

When the Essential Phone was launched, we got a look at three different color options: black, white, and teal. At long last, it appears as though Essential will be launching the ‘Ocean Depth’ variant on February 15…

Essential Stories November 29, 2017

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This morning, news broke that Andy Rubin, founder of Essential, would be taking a personal leave of absence from the company following a report about misconduct while at Google. Despite this news, Essential went ahead with its bi-weekly Reddit AMA and announced several new updates coming to the Phone and future development…

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Andy Rubin, most notably known for being the co-creator of Android, made headlines back in 2013 when he left the mobile OS project as well as when he left Google entirely in 2014. While most have believed he left to start other ventures such as Essential, according to a report from The Information, Rubin departed from the search giant shortly after an internal investigation found evidence of him maintaining an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee who worked for him…

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Essential Stories November 14, 2017

Essential Phone July patch
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Even though Oreo has barely taken a hold in the latest distribution numbers, that doesn’t mean companies aren’t working hard to upgrade flagships to the newest version of Android. Earlier this month, Samsung announced that users could beta test Oreo on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Now, Essential is doing the same by providing an early beta build of Oreo for its handset…

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Essential Stories October 22, 2017

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In the world of Google, it was huge news when Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android, announced that his new startup was going to be releasing a near-stock Android smartphone. While in our review we found its hardware to be fantastic, the poor camera performance really made it hard to recommend the $700 smartphone to most consumers. Essential seems to have heard these complaints and has lowered the Phone’s price tag down to $499 permanently…

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Essential Stories October 16, 2017

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One of Essential’s big bets with the Essential Phone and its upcoming products are modular accessories that work through a new wireless connector. A Silicon Valley company is now alleging (via Reuters) that the Andy Rubin startup stole trade secrets related to the connector without proper compensation.

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Essential Stories September 27, 2017

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While the Essential Phone began shipping to those who pre-ordered directly last month, Andy Rubin’s new device only arrived at Sprint in mid-September. As the exclusive US partner, the Essential Phone has “very prominent” placement at the carrier locations. However, despite this advertising, one research firm estimates that only 5,000 Essential Phones have been sold by Sprint.

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Essential Stories September 8, 2017

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The Essential Phone is all about keeping true to the company’s name by shipping with only the essentials. This means that the version of Android that ships with the handset is more stock than the build that runs on the Google Pixels.

Do you think Essential should have added more features to the Phone?

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Essential Phone July patch
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Nine times out of ten, new smartphone startups fail, and there’s a reason for that. Making it in this industry is incredibly difficult, especially when you’re aiming for the higher price points. Essential has pulled out all the stops with its very first product, the Essential Phone, and thanks to that it’s playing directly against phones like the Pixel, Galaxy Note 8, LG G6 and V30, as well as the iPhone.

How does it hold up? That’s a mixed bag. There are a lot of good things about the Essential Phone, but also a lot of bad. So, let’s take a closer look.

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Essential Stories August 31, 2017

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Starting a new company from the ground up is anything but easy, and Andy Rubin has quickly been learning that with Essential. A recent customer service error revealed personal customer info to other buyers, Verizon compatibility is still shaky, and the dual-cameras leave a lot to be desired. However, despite these woes, the Essential Phone is now arriving on buyers’ doorsteps.

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Essential Stories August 30, 2017

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[Update] 4:31 pm 8/30: Andy Rubin has posted a blog post to explain that the incident was not a phishing scam but was, in fact, a customer service error. The company has apologized to the customers who were affected and have provided them with a year-long subscription to LifeLock.

If you placed an order for the Essential Phone, you might want to check your email. Someone is currently emailing customers asking for further verification before their order is shipped. If you did receive this email, do not respond and delete it…

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Essential Stories August 25, 2017

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When the initial Essential Phone reviews were published, there was a consensus that the handset’s weakest point was the camera. Once we got our hands on the phone, we had to agree with others were saying, especially with the camera’s low-light performance.

Do you still plan to purchase the Essential Phone despite its poor camera performance?

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Three months after being announced, the Essential Phone is now shipping to buyers

At the time of this article being published, Andy Rubin announced the Essential Phone exactly 87 days ago. Those 87 days have been far from perfect for Essential following shipment delays and executives jumping ship, but at long last, the company’s very first device, the Essential Phone, is shipping out to buyers.

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We’ve now had the chance to go hands-on with two of this fall’s latest flagship smartphones: the Essential Phone and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. While one comes from a brand new company backed by Andy Rubin, the other is a part of a long-existing line of smartphones that have a loyal audience. Let’s see how the two compare…

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Essential Stories August 18, 2017

Essential Phone specs: 5.7-inch ‘bezel-less’ display, Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, more

After hinting at a new device, Andy Rubin’s start-up, Essential, announced the Essential PH-1 (Phone). Unlike other OEMs, Essential is all about keeping only the essential aspects of a smartphone. This means almost-stock Android, no pre-install bloatware, and quality materials such as titanium and ceramic to make up the handset.

Essential Stories August 17, 2017

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After a couple of months of anticipation, Andy Rubin’s startup Essential is finally opening up orders for its first product, the Essential Phone. The unlocked, bezel-less device is now available from Essential and multiple retailers for $699.

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Essential Stories August 16, 2017

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When Andy Rubin’s Essential finally announced the details surrounding its first smartphone, people got excited. However, the excitement quickly started to fade away as the company missed shipping dates. Finally, we’re hearing when customers will be able to get their hands on the phone, and it’s a lot sooner than we expected.

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Essential Stories August 15, 2017

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It’s not easy for a startup to make it in today’s smartphone market, but Andy Rubin’s Essential might prove that it’s possible. While the company has yet to deliver any products, it has managed to bring its value as a company up in a major way, now being valued at over $1 billion.

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Essential Stories August 11, 2017

Essential hosting a ‘First Look Event’ later this month for its upcoming Phone

As we near the actual release of the Essential Phone, Andy Rubin and company are beginning to show off their first device. Earlier this afternoon, Essential began mailing out an invite to what it calls a “First Look Event” in Los Angeles.

Essential Stories August 9, 2017

Essential Phone in ‘full mass production” as Rubin confirms next week’s release date reveal

Earlier today, Essential president Niccolo De Masi confirmed more details about the company’s first phone, including retail availability and that the release date will be revealed next week. Andy Rubin has now announced that the Essential Phone is currently in mass production.

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