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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

US Editor-in-Chief

Matt Swider is TechRadar's gadget-savvy, globe-trotting US Editor-in-Chief who leads the US team in New York City. He began his tech journalism career all the way back in 1999 at the age of 14, and first started writing for TechRadar in 2012. He's tested over 1,000 phones, tablets and wearables and commands a Twitter account of 777,000+ followers. Matt received his journalism degree from Penn State University and is never seen without his TechRadar headphones.