Here’s one bit of surprising tech news: Essential, the smartphone company launched by Android co-creator Andy Rubin, is not dead quite yet. The brand has instead been acquired by Nothing, the upstart tech company created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei.
The news, via a report by 9to5Google, comes out of left field, considering Pei had so far only teased upcoming earbuds from his new company. While the idea that Nothing might be considering getting into smartphones isn’t surprising considering Pei’s pedigree, using the Essential brand for it would certainly be unexpected.
Of course, we don’t actually know what Nothing plans to do with the Essential brand, but considering the latter is only known for its phones, that seems likely. It’s worth noting though that the report only confirms that Nothing owns the Essential trademarks, logo, and branding; it’s not clear what’s happening with Essential’s hardware patents.
Maybe it’s not worth getting too excited yet, but I hope Nothing can bring some of that Essential design language to its hypothetical phone lineup. The Essential PH-1 remains one of my all-time favorite designs, even more than three years later.
The hefty combination of titanium and ceramic, plus razer thin bezels along three sides, is still unique after all this time. The company’s commitment to making the most out of stock Android is something I still appreciate, too. If it weren’t for the bad-for-its-time camera and out of date specs, I’d still choose the PH-1 over many phones on the market today.
If Nothing plans to keep some of that Essential philosophy in a potential phone lineup — and again, we’re speaking strictly in hypotheticals here — it does seem to be a good fit for Pei. After all, one of the reasons users flocked to OnePlus was the company’s relatively bloatware-free approach to Android.
We also never got to see the Essential PH-2 come to life, which would have been quite a different device from the original, but at least it was also quite unlike anything else on the market. Here’s hoping Nothing uses the brand for a device that at least brings some modicum of an original design.
But who knows, maybe Pei just really wanted the brand so he could use the word ‘Essential’ in its rumored pair of earbuds or something.
Though I wouldn’t get my hopes up for phone news just yet, there’s a chance we might hear more about Nothing’s lineup. There’s a countdown on the company’s website to reveal, umm, something in just a few days.
Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
and you can subscribe to it right here.
Published February 16, 2021 — 05:04 UTC