In addition to unlocked availability online, the Essential Phone will be sold through Sprint. As the “exclusive U.S carrier,” Sprint will be providing a “premium space to showcase” the device.
USA Today was first to report on the exclusivity, though Sprint has yet to announce pricing details or availability. Essential is currently taking reservations on its website for an unlocked variant of the $699 phone with the option to purchase a 360-degree camera for $50 more.
While the carrier is currently in fourth place in terms of subscribers, this deal is significant for Essential as it provides a retail presence. The Phone will have “very prominent” placement in stores, along with a “hero launch” that includes advertising by Sprint.
In line with how the device does not even carry Essential branding, there will be no Sprint logo.
Sprint was chosen due to the close relationship between Andy Rubin and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, whose company owns an 83% stake in the U.S. carrier. Meanwhile, Rubin serves as an advisor for SoftBank’s Vision investment fund.
Just last week, SoftBank was in the news for purchasing robotics group Boston Dynamics from Alphabet. After leaving Android, Rubin was briefly in charge of Google’s robotics efforts and oversaw the acquisition of several other similar companies.
While Sprint is not widely regarded as the most advanced carrier, this exclusivity — at the very least — provides those curious in the Essential Phone a chance to try it out in-person.
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