The Essential Phone 2 reportedly canceled

The Essential Phone 2, the sequel to the ambitious modular smartphone by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, has reportedly been canceled.

We were expecting a second-generation version of the original Essential Phone later this year, but development on it has ceased at the start-up, according to Bloomberg.

The Essential Phone's one-and-done smartphone fate isn't a big surprise today. The company is said to have sold just 150,000 phones to date. That's not nearly enough to stay afloat in the increasingly competitive smartphone landscape.

The start-up company, once valued at as much as $1 billion, is now reportedly on sale with its patents, hardware and upcoming smart home device up for grabs.

There are other options: Essential is said to have shifted resources to its still-in-development smart home product, on track to launch by 2019. Or it could live on as a brand, without a hand in the costly development process.

It's far from the plan Rubin had for the company, when he laid out his vision last year. But we always knew it was a long shot against Samsung, Apple and Google.

What went wrong with The Essential Phone?

The Essential Phone was a well-crafted all-screen smartphone, and the precursor to the notch phones that have exploded in popularity. It pre-dated the iPhone X notch.

However, the unique ceramic and titanium design and 360-degree camera mod couldn't save it from two major flaws. First, it had a poor camera, something the company admitted. The Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 launched in its wake with the best camera phones.

Second, the price and availability were all wrong. Price drops shifted the Essential Phone PH-1 from a steep $699 (about £523, AU$923) to $399 (about £300, AU$530) in eight months. 

It also lacked broad carrier support in the US, with only Sprint selling it initially, and only came to the UK last month. The Essential Phone became a hard sell when better phones from Google and Samsung were readily available.

Matt Swider