Andy Rubin’s exciting new Essential Phone will be a Sprint exclusive in the United States. Essential says that it believes Sprint is “the network of the future” and the perfect partner to help build its new brand. Customers will still be able to purchase the handset unlocked for use on other carriers.
Unveiled in late May after months of teasers, the Essential Phone is one of the most exciting smartphones of 2017. It was created by Andy Rubin, who co-founded Android before it was acquired by Google in 2005. It has an attractive design, a unique edge-to-edge display that wraps around its front facing camera, and high-end specifications — including Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 chip.
When it made its debut, there was no indication that the Essential Phone would be available from carriers. Now the company behind it has confirmed to USA Today that it will be a Sprint exclusive in the U.S. “We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” said Essential President Niccolo de Masi. “I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future.”
De Masi also pointed to the friendship between Rubin and Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japanese company SoftBank, which owns 83 percent of Sprint. Rubin is an adviser to the SoftBank Vision Fund.
Sprint is the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S. behind Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. However, in recent years, it has been making significant progress in advancing its network. Essential says that Sprint stores will be the place to touch and try out its new smartphone before deciding whether to buy one, but it’s not yet clear how much the carrier will be charging for the device. It’s also unclear how long its exclusivity will last.
If you’re already committed to another carrier and you want to buy the Essential Phone unlocked, it will cost you $699 in the U.S. The handset is scheduled to begin shipping “sometime in the late summer,” and you can reserve yours now from the Essential website.