Why did Essential Phone fail?

Essential, mentioned as the beginning of the notch revolution in smartphones, started to prominence in January 2017 as a company founded by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. With a tweet published by Andy Rubin in March 2017, the first images of the brand’s first smartphone, the Essential Phone PH-1 has emerged. The new smartphone, which was launched in August 2017, managed to make its name known worldwide as an inspiration for other brands. Essential, a 2-year-old company in 2017, even managed to attract the attention of Apple with the first announced smartphone.

Although the continuity of the Essential brand and the Essential Phone series is unfortunately not guaranteed, there are some details that can be mentioned. The brand, created by one of the Android partners, was suddenly taken off the market just when it was about to advance its reputation with ambitious steps. You will learn about the developments of this brand from the day of its creation to its withdrawal from the market.

Establishment of Essential Products

Essential Products Inc. founded on November 9, 2015, was a smartphone manufacturer based in Palo Alto. Andy Rubin is one of the co-founders of Android and also one of the two founders of Essential. The company was founded with financial support from Playground Global.

First steps of Essential’s first smartphone were heard in January 2017, and Andy Rubin published the first images of the brand’s new smartphone in a tweet in March. In a tweet from Essential in May, images of the model to be announced were published for the second time, and 5 days later, on May 30, 2017, the Essential Phone PH-1 was introduced to the market.

Essential Phone PH-1 is the first smartphone with a display in the form of a cut-out. There is no thick frame at the top of the screen, only thanks to the notch-shaped screen that surrounds the camera, the brand’s name became more recognisable day by day and its popularity increased. This screen design, now known as the drop notch, is still found on some smartphones. The Essential Phone ushered in a new era of screen design and indirectly inspired Apple to use notch-shaped screens in its new smartphones.

Essential Phone PH-1 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which was the latest chipset at the time of its release, and has a 4/128 GB RAM/storage option. In addition to the Gorilla Glass 5 protected screen, the frames are made of titanium and the back is made of ceramic. This smartphone houses two 13MP Sony IMX258 camera sensors on the back and has an 8MP resolution front camera on the front.

PH-1 runs Android in its purest form. It was shipped with Android 7.1.1 and received three Android version updates: Android 8.1, 9.0 and 10.0. On the other hand, this smartphone continued to receive monthly security updates until 2020. The fact that the owner of the company is the co-founder of Android allowed the Essential Phone to receive software updates as quickly as possible, just like the Google Pixel.

Collapse of the Essential brand

Essential, which experienced an upward trend in 2017 and 2018, ran into various problems in 2019 and beyond. In December 2018, CloudMagic, a mobile email application, was acquired by Essential. The Essential Phone Gem, which will replace the Essential Phone PH-1, was launched in the last quarter of 2019. This smartphone had a much thinner screen structure compared to other models. After the launch of the new model in 2019, the Essential Phone Gem never went on sale and the company announced on February 12, 2020 that it had ceased operations. Essential was acquired by Nothing on February 17, 2021.


Essential shaped an era by using an exceptional design language for its smartphone released in 2017. However, the brand fell into obscurity after 2018 because smartphone production and the user base were too small. However, there are still some Essential artifacts out there. The emergence of Nothing Phone is linked to the Essential Phone.

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