Essential’s first smartphone is coming to the UK
The first phone from Android creator Andy Rubin’s new company, Essential, is coming to the UK. As the Financial Times reports, the startup is holding talks with a number of British carriers, including EE, about a potential exclusivity deal. It seems nothing has been decided beyond an “imminent” release date, which the FT promises will be sometime this year. In the US, the phone will cost $699, or $749 with a 360-degree camera accessory through the Essential website. Sprint will be the only US carrier to stock the phone, which, despite being last place in the “big four” race, might make business sense, as my colleague Chris Velazco explains.
Like OnePlus and Motorola, Essential is likely to focus on direct-to-consumer sales at launch. It’s a strategy that appeals to early adopters who want the handset SIM-free and without any carrier bloatware. Most people, however, still acquire new phones through their network in a bricks-and-mortar sore. If Essential wants to sell its first phone in big numbers, it will need the support of major carriers around the world. In the UK, they don’t come any bigger than EE, which is now owned by infrastructure juggernaut BT. First, however, the company needs to finish the phone — Rubin promised to ship the first units in June, but that deadline is long gone…