Essential Phone Gets $200 Price Cut, But Is It a Good Deal?

Andy Rubin’s Essential has cut the price on its smartphone just two months after it began shipping.

Essential has reduced the price on its Phone to $499, a $200 savings off the handset’s earlier retail price of $699. The Verge earlier discovered the price cut, which Essential announced via a blog post. The Essential Phone is now one of the more affordable higher-end handsets in a market filled with flagship devices.

That, though, might be part of the problem for Essential and Andy Rubin. The company came on the scene this year in hopes of giving power back to users and taking on companies like Apple and Google. But after unveiling its handset, Essential’s Phone was beset by a range of problems, including failing to deliver the smartphone on time. By August, Essential Phone shipped to customers, but many had hoped to have it earlier in the summer, when the company had promised available units.

Meanwhile, Essential was dogged by stiff competition from Samsung and others that all provided compelling smartphone designs and had ample carrier support. All of that is believed to have translated to poor sales for Essential, and reports that the company could only muster 50,000 unit sales — a pittance in a world dominated by Apple and Samsung, which both sell millions of units each quarter.

All of that, coupled with the launch of the new Google Pixel 2 last week, might have left Essential with no other option but to attract customers with a discount.

In our review of the Essential phone, we called it beautiful but not fully baked, as the camera was slow and struggled in low light. We also didn’t appreciate the lack of both wireless charging and a headphone jack and the below-average battery life. But there are reasons to consider this handset, including its colorful edge-to-edge display and innovative modular add-on system, though the only mod available thus far is a 360-degree camera.

Since our initial review, Essential has issued updates that were designed to address some of the camera and performance issues, and we’ll be updating our review shortly. But those updates likely won’t change the fact that this phone lasted about an hour and a half less than the average phone on a charge.

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