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It’s the end of the road for Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone

When Android co-creator Andy Rubin unveiled the Essential Phone PH-1, the industry took notice. Generally speaking though, the wider public shrugged, and things began to look a little dicey. The PH-2 was reportedly cancelled, before a lifeline appeared in the form of Project Gem – a phone with an unusually tall form factor.

Despite these positive noises, it turns out the Essential Phone PH-1 will be the only hardware the company releases. Essential says it has “taken Gem as far as we can”, and as a result has “made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential.”

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In a blog post innocuously titled “An update from Essential”, the company revealed that owners of the PH-1 will no longer be supported, and the security update from ten days ago will be the last customers hear from it. But it looks like those who like to tinker have the company’s full blessing: “For developer fans, a prebuilt of our vendor image and everything else needed to keep hacking on PH-1 will be hosted on our github,” the post reads.

We are incredibly grateful to our employees in Palo Alto and Bangalore as well as our global partners for their help and dedication bringing this concept to life,” the company wrote.

Those with long memories will also remember that the company rescued Newton Mail when it was shutting down. That, regrettably, means that Cloud Magic – the company Essential acquired to save it –  faces a second end in the space of three years. “Current Newton Mail users will have access to the service through April 30, 2020,” the post reveals, but says nothing of what happens after that.

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It’s a slightly odd shutting down post, not just because of the nondescript headline, but also because the company has decided to dump a whole load of promo videos showcasing the doomed Project Gem and what the world is missing out on. We can’t embed them here, but they demonstrate how apps, the camera, and voice mode work, as well as giving a look at the hardware that never was. 

Perhaps the designers are hoping that somebody will pick up the ball and run with it, but given the almost universal bafflement to the remote control shape, it feels like a long shot to us. You can judge for yourself by watching the videos in the post.

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