What just happened? Last month brought the not entirely surprising news that Android co-founder Andy Rubin's Essential company was in trouble, which makes today's announcement a bit unexpected. The phone maker has revealed the second attachment module for the PH-1 handset, a magnetic 3.5mm headphone jack dongle, is on its way. It follows the 360-degree camera mod that launched alongside the phone in August last year.
Called the Audio Adapter HD, the module also features a built-in "audiophile-grade" amp "crafted from machined titanium for exceptional durability," and a high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC (digital-analog converter).
Essential has announced that its handset is now Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) certified. A software update brings support for MQA, which give songs the lossless audio quality that artists intended without using up a huge amount of device space or cellular data.
The company also said it has teamed up with Tidal for a new partnership. The music streaming service has one of the largest catalog of MQA songs, and Essential phone owners can experience the new audio quality by signing up for three free months on its HiFi tier, which usually costs $19.99 per month.
Bonus track: We teamed up with @TIDAL to give new and existing Essential Phone customers a free 3-month TIDAL HiFi subscription. Learn how to redeem this offer and start listening to thousands of MQA tracks today: https://t.co/JUYZD89dto pic.twitter.com/ETM58Hjqa9--- Essential (@essential) 7 June 2018
The Essential Phone didn't exactly set the industry on fire last year. In the six months following its release, the handset sold fewer than 90,000 units. While the established players offer a number of different handsets and have been around for years, that figure's still a long way off what Apple and Samsung boast---both move about 75 million handsets each quarter. However, in addition to its recent price drop, Essential is giving people another reason to buy the PH-1 by offering a free pair of its USB-C earphones with the device. Normally costing $99, the Earphones HD will be bundled with the phone in a new $499 package.
No word on how much the Audio Adapter HD will cost, but Essential said it goes on sale later this summer. The 360-degree camera, the first Essential module, cost $200 when it launched. The future of the company may be uncertain, but it isn't giving up on its handset just yet.