Stillborn Essential Phone PH-2, PH-3 renders show gorgeous iPhone-like design
Once cresting a US$1 billion valuation making Essential a tech unicorn at the time, 2020 saw the company eventually succumb to the brutal reality of competing in the smartphone and smart home segment with the big players. Founded by the father of Android, former Googler Andy Rubin, Essential managed to release just one major product in its roughly three years of existence, the stunning (but flawed) Essential Phone PH-1. Although well-received for its delightful combination of metal, glass and ceramic, it lacked water resistance, had a dodgy camera and its OS was surprisingly buggy on launch.
After going quiet for several months after a scandal erupted over allegations of sexual misconduct while working at Google sensationally surfaced, Rubin finally popped up to reveal a sneak peak at what was called Project Gem. Project Gem was a radically different smartphone form factor that Rubin believed could find a market at the time. As we know, however, the Essential just couldn’t find the business case to launch it, or in fact, any future products before announcing it was winding down operations in February.
Now, former Essential lead designer Kevin Hoffman has surfaced to reveal in a public post (since locked) renders of two Essential Phone PH-1 sequels that have never before previously seen the light of day. The Essential Phone PH-2 looked looks like a more rounded, more comfortable to hold version of the Essential Phone PH-1 but was cancelled just before it was about to launch. A second potential sequel, the Essential Phone PH-3 (which looks like a more beautiful iPhone 11 Pro design) was also being developed until quite recently. It would have had water resistance, and other improvements apparently.
Sadly, for fans of the Essential Phone PH-1, which continued to receive excellent software support until the February announcement, can only dream of what might have been.