Essential circles the drain, lays off 30 percent of staff

The Essential Phone and 360 camera.

Enlarge / The Essential Phone and 360 camera. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Things aren't looking good for Essential, Andy Rubin's smartphone startup. After announcing it was cancelling its next smartphone earlier this year, the company will now lay off 30 percent of its staff, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Essential produced a pretty good product for its first-ever smartphone. The Essential Phone had a unique ceramic body, pioneered the notch design trend, and shipped with stock Android. Essential's update support has also been great—besides consistent monthly security updates, it delivered an update to Android 9 Pie on day one, an unheard-of speed for most Android OEMs. Essential did all this while, in the news, it seemed like a dead company and was considering a sale.

The Essential Phone ultimately wasn't competitive, though. It had flagship pricing but couldn't keep up with the competition, lacking a good camera, screen, and water resistance. Essential was also a brand-new company, and it's hard to trust a company with no track record. The phone didn't sell well, and eventually, fire sales took the price from $700 all the way down to $250.

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