There won't be an Essential Phone 2 but ex-employees may make a spiritual successor

Essential Phone
(Image credit: Future)
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Former staff of Essential, which made the fan-favorite Essential Phone, have gathered under a new company called OSOM Products that was founded by prior Essential R&D head Jason Keats. 

Essential shut down in early February 2020 over both controversy following founder Andy Rubin and lukewarm Essential Phone sales. As first reported by Android Police (opens in new tab), OSOM has had a LinkedIn (opens in new tab) presence since at least February 2020, and several of Keats’ tweets have quietly announced staff expansions at OSOM – including hiring six former Essential staffers, per this June tweet (opens in new tab)

We don’t know what they’re working on, and given how recent those hires were, it would be wild if OSOM had anything to show off just yet. XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman confirmed (opens in new tab) the Android Police report, and clarified in a follow-up tweet (opens in new tab) that since the company is small and isn't ready to disclose anything yet, his outlet hasn't published anything on OSOM.

To put it clearly: there’s no proof OSOM is developing a phone, let alone one with the same minimalist design ethos as the Essential Phone. 

But given the team composition, it seems very likely that OSOM will, at some point, release a smartphone. For one, one of Keats’ tweets (opens in new tab) publicly consoled a Reddit user whose Essential Phone is on its way out, and he assured that “The core team of innovators from Essential is hard at work, all over the world, on a new vision.”

OSOM's plans, reportedly: both hardware and software

Further, Android Police founder Artem Russakovskii reportedly confirmed (opens in new tab) a few things with Keats: Andy Rubin won’t be involved with any part of OSOM, Keats himself had started work on the startup late in 2019, OSOM’s team will be working on hardware AND software as a holistic approach (meaning, perhaps, their own Android overlay, assuming they go with that OS)...and that we may not hear about the device until 2021 at earliest.

That’s because Keats wants to avoid some of the mistakes made at Essential, including going to market with a device before it was ready. But per the chat, we should see a proper company launch in the next few months – likely as the company is growing, given Keats predicted the company will hire another 20-30 employees in a June tweet (opens in new tab). We’ll follow up then with more information about any spiritual heirs to the Essential Phone coming out of OSOM.

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.