Inventory for the much-hyped and much-troubled Essential Phone whittled away in the final days of 2018. For months, rumors of a new model have sporadically emerged, only to be struck down almost as quickly as they crop up. The startup, led by one of Android’s founding fathers, Andy Rubin, reportedly cancelled the new handset it was planning to release last year, according to Bloomberg, and has remained mostly quiet ever since.
Credit: Tom’s GuideIt seemed that the tale of Essential was over and done with — at least until Rubin cryptically responded to a tweet from Droid Life’s Kellen Barranger today (June 11) asking for a successor. “Thanks. We’ll make an announcement. Hang tight,” Rubin’s reply reads.
This isn’t the first time Essential’s founder has teased something new on the the horizon. Back in early April, Rubin told a Twitter user asking if his company was going to “have a second act” by saying, in a similar fashion to today’s message, that it was only a matter of time.
“Hah. What do you think we’re doing over here? We’re a consumer products company. We engineer cool stuff. Eventually, cool stuff gets launched. You’ll see,” Rubin responded at the time.
It’s unclear if Rubin was referring specifically to a phone or a different type of product, as Essential’s original guiding philosophy was to create an ecosystem of like-minded devices. (Out of that ecosystem, we only got a modular 360-degree camera in addition to the phone.) Either way, the dialogue breathed more life into the prospect of a new handset.
Still, we’re not entirely sure what that phone would look like, even if it did exist. The original PH-1 eventually found some footing as a bargain among Android flagships, but it didn’t debut that way. The device’s $699 launch price was cut to $499 after a few short months, due to low demand. Essential had no choice but to slash the cost to move units. Should the company release another smartphone at that reduced price, chances are it wouldn’t be quite as premium.
In fact, it might not resemble any phone we’ve ever seen, at all. Back in August 2017, Rubin fantasized about a handset that could be operated entirely through voice and even be trusted to respond to people and messages for you. He opined it could be a solution to smartphone addiction and the increasing impersonality of our digital lives — though something about the idea of a communications device that does most of the communicating for you seems contrary to that goal.
Regardless, it seems Essential has something cooking. What, exactly, we have no clue. One thing’s for sure, though — it will definitely get people talking.