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Unreleased Essential PH-2 and PH-3 renders shared by former designer
by Rajesh Pandey
In February, Essential announced that it was shutting down. The company was known for the Essential Phone (or the PH-1) and its ability to quickly roll out security patches and Android updates to its device. Now, a former designer at the company, Kevin Hoffman, has shared a bunch of photos of the Essential PH-2 and PH-3. Both these devices were in development at the company, but since it shut shop, they did not see the light of the day.
The photos of the Essential PH-2 make it clear that it was the successor to the PH-1. It had the same design language that was tweaked a bit -- matte glass back, 2.5D cover glass at the front, rounded metal frames, and an IP68 certification making it dust and water-resistant. Essential was not planning on doing anything radically different with its second smartphone.
Gallery: Essential PH-2
The Essential PH-2 was close to launching, but was killed during its second round of EVT testing by the company's founder Andy Rubin in favor of the Essential Home product lineup. Ironically, Essential never got around to releasing its Home lineup of smart home products either.
Engineers at Essential had also started working on the PH-3 from earlier this year. It was being designed to have a low BOM (Bill of Material) cost which points to the company preparing to launch this phone with a lower price tag. The device would have featured a bead-blasted aluminum body, an OLED display, and a 2.5D curved cover glass. The rear of the phone had a squarish camera hump as seen on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 series. To pay homage to the design of the original PH-1, the PH-3 was being developed with a completely flat frame. The renders make it clear that the device was still in early stages of development.
Gallery: Essential PH-3
The Essential PH-3 and the Project GEM devices were canceled when Essential shut shop in February this year.
By Rich Woods
Andy Rubin's Essential folds, ending its phone business
by Rich Woods
Essential is a smartphone company that was started up by Android co-founder Andy Rubin in 2017, and today, it was announced that the firm is shutting its doors. The first and only product that Essential made was the PH-1, and it was actually the first device to sport a notch.
Late last year, Essential announced Project GEM, which was an interesting combination of hardware and software that included an extraordinarily tall smartphone. With the new form factor, came different use cases and different user experiences. GEM never came to market, and part of today's announcement is that Essential realized that it has no way to move forward with it.
The company did win some praises for how well it supported the PH-1, especially given that it's just a startup. In many cases, it was the first to update its device to a new version of Android, after Google's first-party smartphones, of course. Unfortunately, the security update that was released earlier this month will be the final update.
If you use Newton Mail, that's also shutting down. You'll only have until April 30 to access the service.
There's still a bit of good news for Essential PH-1 owners though. There will be a prebuilt version of the vendor image hosted on GitHub, so you'll still be able to "keep hacking".
Andy Rubin teases "radically different form factor" [Update]
by João Carrasqueira
Since launching the Essential Phone back in 2017, the company led by Android co-founder Andy Rubin hasn't had any big new devices to share with the world. The company has done a good job of supporting the original PH-1 with new Android updates, and rumors have surfaced before regarding potential successors, but solid plans have never been formally announced.
That's not changing today, but Andy Rubin, who is still CEO of the company, shared a series of images of a "radically different form factor" on Twitter. The device in question features a very tall aspect ratio for the display, bearing more resemblance to a TV controller than a smartphone. One of the tweets also shows off a "GEM Colorshift material", which provides some mesmerizing colors depending on how you look at it.
Unfortunately, beyond the images themselves, Rubin has provided no sort of information regarding the devices, including they will be a real product anytime soon. The images do show what appear to be some apps running on the device, as well as a task switcher. It's not clear what OS is on the device, though. It's also not clear if this is a project coming from Essential, or some other project from Rubin.
Prior to today's tweets, Andy Rubin had been fairly quiet on Twitter for nearly a year, after allegations regarding sexual misconduct at Google surfaced, involving Rubin and other workers at the Mountain View giant. We'll have to wait and see if the Essential CEO will stick around long enough to explain what the devices in the images are.
Update: Essential has confirmed via its own Twitter account that this is a new device from the company. The device aims to "reframe your perspective on mobile", and it's being tested internally within the company right now.
Essential, OnePlus, and Xiaomi join Google in releasing Android 10
by João Carrasqueira
Today, Google released Android 10 to Pixel owners, the first version of the OS to come without a dessert-inspired name. Wasting no time, some companies have started to follow suit with their own releases of Android 10, though only to some extent.
Essential is one of the companies that jumped on board the latest release, as it usually tends to follow very quickly after Google. There's really only one phone the company needs to support, and it runs pretty much stock Android, so it's not surprising to see updates release quickly. However, the update is only available for select open market customers, so you might not see it right away, especially if you have a carrier variant of the phone.
Another company that's joined the fray is Xiaomi, which has made the update available to its Redmi K20 Pro in China and India (via XDA-Developers). Notably, the Redmi K20 Pro actually runs Xiaomi's custom MIUI skin, which is significantly different from stock Android, so it's surprising to see the company act so quickly. Hopefully, the international variant, known as the Mi 9T Pro, will be quick to receive the update as well.
Finally, OnePlus is also releasing Android 10 to the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, though not exactly in a stable build. The release comes in the form of the Oxygen OS Open Beta 1, which is different from the developer previews we've been getting. The release can be downloaded and install manually by anyone, and those running the developer previews will be updated over-the-air. While the release should be fairly polished by now, it is still a beta, so you may want to wait for a stable release.
With the official release now behind us, it's only a matter of time until more companies start releasing their variants of Android 10 to more of their phones. For Nokia users, there's already a timeline available for when you can expect the update on your device.
By Jay Bonggolto
Essential Phone receives official LineageOS support
by Jay Bonggolto
The Essential Phone has been constantly treated to a regular dose of updates from developer Essential Products since its debut in 2017. The device has also been getting LineageOS builds over the past few years, albeit unofficially.
Now, the handset, which is designed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, has finally received official support from LineageOS. The latest LineageOS version 16.0 is now available to download on the Essential Phone.
The latest nightly build comes in at 684.11MB, so be sure to have enough storage on your device. LineageOS is the successor to CyanogenMod and it promises to provide a stock Android experience to users.
The latest development marks another good news for Essential Phone fans after Rubin recently suggested via a tweet that an announcement for the next version of the handset is coming up. The teaser came quite a bit late, made in response to a months-old tweet from an Essential Phone user who was obviously keen on seeing a second-generation device.
It's not clear when a new Essential Phone will be unveiled. A report from last year claimed that Rubin is working on a new handset with a heavy focus on artificial intelligence and a capability to autonomously reply to emails and messages on your behalf.