Essential Phone will be carrier-exclusive to Sprint in the U.S.
The Essential Phone will be prominently showcased at thousands of Sprint stores across the country.
Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone will be available to buy unlocked direct from the company’s website, but if you’re looking to go the carrier route in the U.S., then your only option is Sprint. The phone itself supports all four major carriers in the U.S., but when it comes to picking up the device from a retail store, Essential is going with the “network of the future.”
Essential president Niccolo de Masi revealed to USA Today the reasoning behind choosing Sprint as its exclusive carrier partner in the U.S.:
We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was. I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future.
It’s certainly conscious for us to work with partners that can make an investment in supporting our brand ambitions…(and) it’s an approach that obviously Andy Rubin has been very successful with in the past as well as a lot of our management team.
Andy Rubin is a close friend of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, and with the Japanese telecommunications giant owning 83% of Sprint, it’s not hard to see why the two companies decided to team up. Rubin is also an advisor to the SoftBank Vision Fund — a $100 billion technology fund with investments in AI, IoT, telecom, mobile apps, and much more.
For its part, Sprint is saying that the Essential Phone will be prominently displayed in its retail stores, with the carrier offering “premium space” for the device. The phone won’t carry any Sprint branding as well. Although Sprint lags behind Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, the deal gives Essential the ability to showcase its phone at thousands of retail stores across the country.
As of now, there’s no mention of when customers will be able to pick up the device from Sprint’s retail stores. The Essential Phone costs $699 unlocked, and Rubin mentioned that it will start shipping out to customers by the end of this month. We should hopefully have more details soon.
What do you guys think of Essential’s decision to team up with Sprint?