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Instead of making a new phone, Essential has bought a defunct email app

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As if someone threw a dart and decided it

Essential Phone Photo: Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Essential has acquired CloudMagic, pairing the struggling smartphone maker with the company behind the shut-down email app Newton, it confirmed to TechCrunch today. It’s a weird convergence of two underdogs, but makes some amount of sense when you look at what’s supposed to be next for Essential.

Newton Mail was shut down in September, in another sign that premium email apps are experiencing much difficulty competing against the free options offered by Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Essential acquired the mail company for an undisclosed amount.

Essential, meanwhile, largely only has the Essential Phone, which didn’t sell very well. The company has supposedly given up on making a direct successor. Instead, sources told Bloomberg in October that Essential has been working on an “AI phone” that could offer smart replies to emails and texts. The phone could potentially combine Newton Mail’s already existing features to take advantage of the new AI-powered replies. But even so, it’s still hard not to see it as a combination of two companies that were already in a bind when they were alone.