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Essential

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[Update: Already sold out] Essential reveals its Audio Adapter HD, a $150 machined titanium external DAC for the PH-1

Essential's Audio Adapter HD has finally been announced. The company has been talking about the existence of this new external headphone jack/DAC since June, and this month's security update indicated we'd see it soon. But there are a few twists: It's $150, and a limited edition.

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Essential Phone November update rolling out, hints Audio Adapter HD could arrive soon

The cycle of monthly security updates continues. As expected, Essential has just pushed out its November patch OTA on the same day as Google. There is a twist this time around, though: Essential's changelog includes notes that reveal the Audio Adapter HD could be coming soon.

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[Update: Walkout plans, Andy Rubin and Google respond] Google allegedly paid $90 million severance to Andy Rubin after misconduct allegation

Nearly a year ago, Andy Rubin took a leave of absence from Essential, after The Information alleged that he was in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate while he led the Android team at Google. Rubin returned to Essential not long after, but now more details about his time at Google have been released by The New York Times.

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Essential decides a third of its staff isn't

Essential may be at work on making an AI-focused alternative smartphone that operates mainly on voice commands, but it'll have to do so with a significantly reduced staff. Essential has confirmed that it is laying off a large portion of its staff, which Bloomberg reports amounts to roughly 30 percent of the 120-person workforce — mainly in the hardware and sales divisions.

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Essential is reportedly working on an AI phone that operates through voice commands

While Essential's first device has a cult following among those who prioritize quick Android updates, it became clear in May that it would never see a follow-up. A report from Bloomberg revealed that the company had canceled a second Essential Phone and put itself up for sale. However, over the past several months, the company has quietly chugged along, continuing to push out lightning-fast security patches. Now, a new report from Bloomberg states that the company is indeed working on a second device — but it's not at all like its first product. According to the publication's tipsters, the handset is an anti-smartphone with a small screen that relies primarily on voice commands.

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Essential Phone re-review: Good software isn't good enough for most of us

When it was first released, Essential's entry into the phone market was a bit of a flop. Reviews for the PH-1 weren't profoundly negative, but the phone's almost $700 price was humorously high considering its features and problems at the time. A bit over a year later, many of its early issues have been fixed or improved, the phone is one of just a handful to be updated to Android 9 Pie, and it's dropped down as cheap as $250 for Amazon Prime Day — though it's closer to $330 now.

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Essential pushes October security update, brings back notch support

In a move that will surprise few at this point, Essential pushed out the latest Android 9 Pie release with October security patches within minutes of Google. Perhaps more exciting is the fact that with this update, the company is bringing back notch support.

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Essential Phone gets September security update immediately following Google's release

Even though a May report suggested that Essential has canned its second-generation phone (an assertion the company didn't fully contradict), the first Essential Phone remains a cult favorite. In large part, that's because the company pushes out Android updates in near tandem with Google — and that was no exception with the September 2018 Android Pie update released today.

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Essential Phone finally gets support for YouTube zoom-to-fill

Now that almost every major smartphone has a display with a ratio around 18:9, regular old 16:9 videos aren't looking too hot with their black bars. To combat this, YouTube added a helpful zoom-to-fill feature to its Android app, but that functionality only works on select, more mainstream devices. The Essential Phone is finally getting support for it, months after both its and the feature's release.

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[Deal Alert] Essential Phone in Halo Gray down to $280 ($220 off) on Amazon

Aside from its incredible build and lightning-quick updates, I'd argue that the most interesting thing about the Essential Phone is how low its price dropped in such a short time; this once-$700 phone hit an all-time low of just $249.99 on Amazon last month for Prime Day. Today's deal on the Halo Gray Essential Phone can't quite beat that, but at $279.99, it comes close.

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