Essential has risen from the ashes after its failed smartphone debut and is now offering a pretty pricey dongle that brings back the headphone jack.
Promised back in September 2017, the Audio Adapter HD costs $149. Custom-made for the Essential handset alone, the adapter snaps on the back of the device. The company announced earlier in June that the accessory would start shipping in summer, but it's clear it missed that release window.
Essential Audio Adapter HD
At $149, the Audio Adapter HD is by far the most expensive dongle people can buy, which is spectacularly eye-watering considering it won't even work with other phones. The magnetic accessory's price point is about 30 percent of the price of an Essential Phone, not including discounts that customers might be able to avail from Amazon, Best Buy, and a slew of other retailers hoping to clear their stock of Essential's failed handset.
Why Is It So Expensive?
There's a reason why it's so expensive. Besides the magnetic module custom-made for Essential handsets, it also supports "studio quality audio performance" and an "audiophile-grade amp that can drive audiophile-grade headphones." To be clear, Essential isn't calling it a replacement for a dedicated HI-Fi Digital Audio Converter, or DAC, which is an entirely different thing. Whether it can compete with such products remains to be seen as well.
Will It Be A Hit?
At the end of the day, it's not clear whether this dongle is going to become a big hit, especially at that price point. It might be useful for several Essential Phone users who are missing their headphone jack. True or not, Essential reportedly managed to sell only 90,000 phones in the first six months of release. It has since allegedly canceled plans to release a follow-up, and it has laid off 30 percent of its workforce last month in what the company called a "difficult decision" designed to help it "deliver a truly game-changing consumer product."
To make matter worse, Essential CEO Andy Rubin is currently embroiled in a massive controversy involving Google, a hot-button issue that has since prompted a number of employees to walk away. According to The New York Times, Google apparently paid Rubin $90 million for him to quietly leave the company in 2014 over claims of sexual misconduct. It remains unclear whether Rubin is running day-to-day operations at the company again.