Andy Rubin, formerly the founder of Android, Inc. (yes, named after him; his name is “Andrew” and so is the operating system Android), teased a new smartphone earlier this Spring. The smartphone had a bezel-less design, though little else could be gleaned from the mysterious photo. Just four days later, Rubin released the Essential Phone to the mobile world with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, bezel-less design, and a dual-camera setup.
Essential Phone’s financial flop
For all the Essential Phone’s promise, it never caught on with phone buyers. Priced at $699 originally, Rubin’s phone price was slashed by $200 right away – not a good sign for smartphone OEMs. And then, there was that sad rumor about Rubin’s company being in financial trouble and on the lookout for a buyer. The Essential Phone 2 project is no more and there are no current plans to create a second-generation device.
And yet, while Essential is selling off its brand, the company wants to stay in the smartphone market. One such reason to back up the statement comes in the form of the Essential Phone headphone jack module that the company now claims will ship this summer.
Essential Phone headphone jack is second module to market
There are only two accessories for the Essential Phone: a 360-degree camera and a phone dock, both modular attachments for the handset. The phone dock has yet to ship, so only the 360-degree camera module is available on the market. Essential is now adding a headphone jack module as another “essential” module option for its handset buyers. The new headphone jack module (a dongle) is a 3.5mm magnetic attachment called the Audio Adapter HD. The Audio Adapter HD also contains a “machined titanium” high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC for studio-best audio.
The headphone jack: Essential majors on the essentials
Though technology is moving at the speed of light and “wireless” is becoming the new industry standard, some wires are still worth having, according to customers. The headphone jack is one of them.
Apple removed its headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, to the outrage of a number of iPhone buyers. Normally, iPhone trends that prove acceptable trickle down to the Android world, but this hasn’t been the case with Android smartphone OEMs. There are some that have followed Apple, such as Razer in its new Razer Phone, Xiaomi in its Mi 6, and HTC in its 2016 HTC Bolt (released weeks after the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus) and HTC U11 (now HTC U12).
Google announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL without a headphone jack, and Essential itself released its phone without one. And yet, there are OEMs that have yet to follow suit, such as Samsung in the Galaxy S9 and S9+, LG in the G7 ThinQ, and OnePlus in the OnePlus 6. Half the flagship phones announced at MWC 2018 earlier this year such as the LG V30S ThinQ retain the headphone jack; half do not.
Essential’s headphone jack module release after all this time shows the company’s desire to release an accessory with instant popular appeal. It’s likely the company is aware of its user base’s distaste for headphone-jackless phones.
Essential Phone now has free three-month Tidal MQA Subscription
As an added bonus to the arrival of the headphone jack module (Audio Adapter HD), Essential and Tidal have teamed up to give Essential users a free three-month subscription to Tidal’s Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) lossless audio music collection for free.
This partnership between Essential and Tidal isn’t a coincidence nor a surprise, though it is a good surprise for phone buyers. The Essential Phone went on sale as a Sprint exclusive in the US, and Sprint owns one-third of Jay Z’s Tidal music streaming business. Sprint’s stake in the business allows the carrier to offer Tidal music streaming subscriptions and free promos.
Essential Phone headphone jack module to ship this summer
The Essential Phone headphone jack module will ship this summer. There’s no word on an exact date, nor retail price.