Essential did a truly impressive job delivering fast monthly patches and Android updates for its one and only smartphone, the Essential Phone. But today the company announced it’s closing up shop, which means that those software updates won’t be coming any longer. Customer support is also being phased out effective immediately.
The Newton Mail service that Essential also took over when it acquired CloudMagic is shutting down as of April 3rd.
As part of its blog post about the company’s end, Essential said that the already-released February security patch is the last update that the Essential Phone will ever receive. “Your PH-1 will continue to work but we will not be providing any additional updates or customer support,” the blog post reads. You’re on your own now, remaining Essential Phone customers.
The Essential Phone was unveiled in May 2017 and shipped later that year as a Sprint exclusive, though it was also sold unlocked. The device garnered plenty of hype for its unique titanium and ceramic build, and because it was coming from a company founded by Andy Rubin, who also co-founded the Android operating system. (Rubin’s reputation has since been tarnished by numerous sexual misconduct and harassment allegations that date back to his time at Google. A $90 million severance package outraged Google employees and prompted companywide walkouts.)
The device featured a unique modular system that allowed accessories (like a 360-degree camera) to magnetically latch onto its back. It was among the first phones with barely there bezels, and it ran a near-stock version of Android. Essential’s modular plans ultimately fizzled, but the company continued to deliver constant software improvements and tweaks to the PH-1. Essential made a habit of releasing major new Android updates quicker than any phone maker besides Google — sometimes on the very same day they reached Pixel devices. For a product that barely anyone bought, the dedication was laudable.
In the spirit of keeping the Essential Phone alive, Essential will be updating its GitHub with resources that can be used to “keep hacking” the device long into the future.