Essential, the smartphone from Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s start-up by the same name, will be a carrier exclusive with Sprint in the US. Why Sprint, you ask?
Niccolo de Masi, president of Essential, said in a recent interview that they like to bet with where they think the market is going as opposed to where the market was. As a new brand and a new consumer electronics company, de Masi said they are partnering with the “network of the future.”
Rubin’s relationship with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son may have also played a role in the decision to partner exclusively with Sprint. As you may know, SoftBank owns a majority stake in the nation’s fourth largest wireless provider. Rubin also happens to be an advisor to the SoftBank Vision Fund, Son’s investment vehicle.
That said, some will no doubt question Essential’s decision to go with Sprint over the other three carriers. Sprint doesn’t exactly have the best network reputation although like T-Mobile, the company has made a major push in recent memory to improve its network and better appeal to consumers.
It’s worth clarifying that although Sprint will be the exclusive carrier for the Essential phone, operation won’t be limited to Sprint’s network. Indeed, an unlocked version of the phone will be sold on Essential’s website starting at $699 that’ll be compatible with all major networks (it’s also being offered as a bundle with a 360-degree camera for $749).
Essential’s inaugural smartphone is expected to launch sometime this month.