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Essential shuts down; killing the possibility of tall smartphones

Essential is no longer Essential. The company will stop rolling out software updates for Essential Phone and cease development of Project GEM.

  • Published: February 13, 2020 2:32 PM IST
Essential Project Gem design, UI

Essential Products, the company started by Android co-founder, is shutting down. It means that Essential will stop seeding software updates for its only smartphone. Essential Phone, which received February security patch recently, will no longer get any updates. The smartphone will keep working but users won’t get updates with security updates. They will also not get the next major release – Android 11.


Essential is also shutting down all customer support operations. The industry watchers have been predicting the death of Essential for quite some time. But the company kept limping on even after little success. Essential Phone PH-1 was launched in 2017 as a new attempt to make Android flagships well built and affordable at the same time. It was also aimed to be modular, meaning users attach accessories via magnetic connector.

RIP Essential Products

However, the device was delayed and when it reached reviewers, they were not impressed. It’s demise comes as a surprise because the company had recently teased a unique device called GEM. The Project GEM from the company was supposed to take smartphones in a new direction. These were supposed to be tall devices offering a new method of interaction. However, these Project GEM, which were shown in prototype form, will never officially see light of the day.

Essential was started by Andy Rubin, who co-founded Android, before selling it to Google. He was also briefly leading the software development at the search giant. While the launch of Essential Phone was received with mixed response, the company was soon stuck with controversies. Rubin reportedly left Google over sexual misconduct case and was reportedly paid around $90 million by Google.

There were even reports that Rubin’s company had raised around $330 million and was valued at $1 billion to kick start its hardware ambitions. Now, the company is becoming no longer Essential to the smartphone world. The company is shutting shop and with it, a possible successor to PH-1 is also shuttered. The company, which also owned Newton Mail, has announced that the mail service will shut down on April 30. If you thought of getting an Essential smartphone then we can only feel sorry for you.

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  • Published Date: February 13, 2020 2:32 PM IST