Essential has been nearly radio silent since reports surfaced late last month that Andy Rubin was looking for a buyer for his hardware startup. The company didn’t really confirm or deny the rumors — or say much else for that matter. A few weeks later, the company does have some news — but it’s not what you were most likely expecting.
The startup just dropped the second modular accessory for its first smartphone. The Audio Adapter HD features a built-in amp and the ability to play back MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), a hi-res streaming audio technology. Oh, and there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, because everything that’s old is new again.
The new add-on is set to drop at some point this summer. The company has also teamed up with Tidal. The streaming service has also reportedly had some issues of late, though, for its part, the company did offer a more outright denial. The partnership gives new and existing Essential customers a three-month trial subscription of Tidal’s HiFi service — a taste of what they’ve been missing with their low bit rates.
The company has declined to provide pricing for the add-on. Its first mod, the 360-degree camera, retailed for $200 at launch, though that price has since dropped considerably on retailers like Amazon — much like the Essential phone itself. As with the camera, the Audio Adapter HD feels like a niche, compared to mods from Motorola, which include things like battery packs and speakers.
At the very least, however, it does show that there’s still some life left in the Essential line.