It wasn’t the successful, industry-changing run we had all hoped for from the startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, but the Essential Phone might be done. After a good year and a half of price drops and flash sales after a rocky, expensive start, the Essential Phone has begun slipping away into unavailability land.
The Essential Phone switched over to “Out of Stock” on the Essential Shop last week in all colors after not much of a discount (not like this one) during the height of the holiday shopping season. It’s now mostly gone at Amazon too, outside of some resellers trying to get rid of remaining devices, with no Prime shipping available in the last couple of color options. Best Buy removed all listings of the unlocked model and now shows it as “no longer available” if you do find a legacy link to it. That change happened sometime around December 14. The only version sold by Best Buy is the Sprint model. And speaking of the Sprint model, Sprint’s site seems to think they have it, but the page is broken for me and just spins as it tries to figure out how much to sell the phone for.
We reached out to Essential to find out if the phone was indeed done, but have not yet heard back. I’m guessing they are on a solid end-of-the-year vacation with no product to sell and a confusing future possibly filled with an AI phone and email app companies that no longer make email apps.
I should point out that they killed off most references to their never-realized smart home hub a while back as well. All Home pages disappeared from their site weeks ago and now 404 if you try to access them. The last remaining mentions of the hub are blog posts from back in May 2017 when the company first revealed its plans.
My guess is that the Essential Phone and its Home hub are gone for good. And that’s not that surprising. The Phone is a year and a half old, the hub was probably always going to fail because it wanted to do some sh*t that the industry was never going to allow.
I still think it’s too bad we never saw a follow-up to the Essential Phone, though. As I wrote earlier this year, Andy Rubin and crew didn’t need to change much for it to be one of the best phones of 2018. In fact, a couple of component tweaks and a focus on the camera might have made it the phone of the year. Because remember, in terms of design, it was a good year ahead of everyone else.
But it has been a rocky year for Rubin and the Essential team, which has been dramatically reduced. Since the Essential Phone arrived, they haven’t given us much outside of some accessories and a really expensive DAC that showed up a year too late. That’s a long time for any company to go without releasing a new product.
If there is one positive, we still believe that the Essential Phone will get major OS updates for a good portion of next year, followed by another year of security updates. Between now and then, though, it’s anyone’s guess if Essential will take another shot.
UPDATE: An Essential spokesperson reached out with the following statement, confirming that it is indeed the end of the Essential Phone. Also, a new mobile product is coming.
We are sold out of Essential Phone on essential.com and won’t be adding any new inventory. We are now hard at work on our next mobile product and will continue to sell accessories and provide speedy software updates and customer support to our existing community.
RIP, Essential Phone.