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Essential Phone is now a more reasonable $499

The phone is now $200 cheaper, with the company saying it chose the price drop over spending money on marketing.

Josh Miller/CNET

The heavily hyped, Andy Rubin-backed Essential phone launched late in August. Now, two months later, its price has been cut from $699 to $499.

The news was announced in a Sunday blog post by company president Niccolo de Masi. He said the price cut comes in lieu of the company spending money on an expensive marketing campaign.

"We could have created a massive TV campaign to capture your attention," Masi wrote, "but we think making it easier for people to get their hands on our first products is a better way to get to know us."

A spokesperson added to this, telling CNET, "We've heard from many people that once they got their hands on an Essential Phone they were hooked by the device's unique look and feel... it was a strategic decision to invest in bold pricing to get our products into more hands instead of traditional marketing such as TV to generate awareness and word of mouth."

People who bought the phone upon release could be understandably miffed, so Essential is offering anyone who did so prior to Oct. 22 $200 off their next phone or 360 camera purchase. The caveat is you, or whoever you give the voucher to, have to use it by Dec. 15.

The Essential Phone PH-1 is a beautiful device, but didn't meet expectations considering its pedigree -- the company is founded by Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android -- and hefty price. But that price isn't so hefty now. The Essential Phone now competes with midrange phones like the Moto Play Z2, rather than the Apple iPhones and the Google Pixels of the world.

With that, it's now an easier phone to recommend. It's powered by a super-speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, with the price cut making it among the cheapest phones sporting it. Only the currently-out-of-stock OnePlus 5 beats Essential, at $479, though you'll have to order that phone online.

The life of the PH-1 hasn't been all smooth. Originally scheduled for a June release, it was delayed several times. It launched with dodgy camera app, which has since been updated, and it failed our drop test despite the company's claims that the titanium and ceramic phone doesn't need a case.

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