It’s Amazon Prime Day, and that means a large collection of deals that may or may not be a great value. We have a big post covering much of the tech stuff, but I wanted to highlight this insane Essential Phone deal that lets you have a 2017 flagship smartphone for $250.
We found the Essential Phone to be a very interesting product when we reviewed it last year. It had a new-age notched display, a minimal design, a unique ceramic body, and felt really well made, especially for something from a brand-new company. It ran stock Android and came with a promise of two years of software updates.
On the bad side of things, there wasn’t a headphone jack, or a MicroSD slot, or waterproofing. The modular accessory system was terrible, but it also didn’t compromise the phone design much, so it was easy to ignore. The camera sucked and still sucks, even after multiple updates.
The biggest downside was that Essential was asking $700 for its first attempt at a flagship smartphone, and that just wasn’t good enough. Poor sales eventually led to a lowered price of $500. At either of those prices, you might have pause, but for $250? This thing is a steal. You’re getting a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3040mAh battery, which will blow the doors off of anything else in this price range. It will work on most GSM carriers.
Essential has a murky future ahead of it, and in the future we might look at this $250 price tag as a “going-out-of-business” sale. The company has cancelled future smartphone development and might be put up for sale eventually. As a potential Essential customer, that means you can’t rely on the company to deliver software updates in the future. As of May 2018, Essential said it was still good for the original promise of two years of major updates and three years of security patches, but I think if the company is sold, all bets are off.
There’s good news for phone tinkerers though. The Essential Phone has an unlockable bootloader and was updated with Project Treble support, which means it should be compatible with a wide range of aftermarket Android distributions. So if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and update your phone yourself—or if you want to learn how—it’s hard to beat this Essential Phone deal.