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Here's what the Essential Phone 2 and 3 would have looked like


Essential wound down its operations in early February after introducing just one smartphone. The company was actively working on a new formfactor dubbed GEM before it shut down, but it turns out Essential also had plans for an Essential Phone 2 and Phone 3 at one point.

Designer Kevin Hoffman worked with Essential as the lead designer on both Essential Phone sequels. And as spotted by 9To5Google, Hoffman has today decided to share images of these devices in a now-locked post that also reveals why neither of them ever reached consumers.

The Essential Phone 2 looked a lot like the original

Kicking things off with the Essential Phone 2 (PH-2), it’s clear from the images that it draws heavily from the original in the design department. The smartphone features a display coupled with the same notch and chin as the first model in addition to 2.5D glass.

This is accompanied by a slightly redesigned metal frame that is now rounder. Also present is a refreshed rear panel that incorporates a dual-camera system, a fingerprint scanner, and the magnetic pin attachments for official accessories.

To better differentiate the Essential Phone 2 from its predecessor, though, the company had planned to use matte glass on the back. An IP68 water and dust resistance rating was also part of the package.

It turns out the Essential Phone 2 was pretty close to launch but Essential ultimately pulled the plug during the second round of EVT (Engineering Validation and Testing) before trial production was scheduled to begin.

Andy Rubin himself apparently took the decision because he wanted to focus on the Essential Home product line, which rather ironically never made it to market.

The Essential Phone 3 was being worked on earlier this year

After scrapping plans for the smart home devices, Essential turned its focus back to the smartphone market. It announced the rather odd Project GEM back in October but it turns out the company had also started work on the Essential Phone 3 (PH-3). 

It was being worked on as recently as this year, according to Hoffman, but ultimately never made it as far down the road because the company closed up shop in February. 

The idea was for the smartphone to have a low build-of-material (BOW) cost, perhaps in an attempt to target the mid-range or low-end segment. To achieve this, Essential had planned on using an existing notched OLED display with pre-defined dimensions and smaller bezels.

That would have been paired with 2.5D glass and a bead-blasted machined aluminum for the entire body. The Essential Phone 3 frame was also completely flat as a “homage to the original PH1 Essential phone design language.”

Sitting within a polished aluminum bump on the back of the smartphone is a triple-camera setup. Some of the early concepts envision the module in the center of the rear panel while others position it in the top-left corner. 

Completing the package is a volume rocker and power key on the right side of the frame. There’s no sign of a fingerprint scanner, therefore suggesting Essential may have been looking into futuristic yet often unreliable in-screen implementations.

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