Essential, the startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, is reportedly bringing its first smartphone to the UK later this year.
According to The Financial Times, Essential has been in discussions with UK carriers on a deal to launch the phone here. One potential partner is EE. It’s also thinking about bringing the phone to western Europe and Japan.
Essential’s first phone, simply called Phone, hasn’t actually launched in the US yet. But the startup has shown signs of trouble already. Business Insider reported last week that the company’s VP of marketing Brian Wallace had left. Head of communications Andy Fouché also left, though he remains an advisor.
Essential is promising a high-end $US700 (£535) device which will compete directly with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s flagship Galaxy range. The phone comes with magnetic connectors, meaning people can pin accessories to the back, such as a 360-degree camera which will be sold separately.
The company will begin selling the unlocked phone through its site this summer, and it has an exclusive US carrier deal with Sprint. It hasn’t given an exact timeframe though, and the company has already missed its launch deadline once.
Ben Wood, an analyst for CCS Insight, told The Financial Times that there would be “little or no interest” in Essential were it not for Andy Rubin.
- It’s encased in titanium and has a ceramic back
- It’s smaller and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S8, measuring 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8 mm, 185g
- There’s a large display that covers almost the entire front of the phone
- There are two magnetic connections on the back for accessories
- There are two 13-megapixel rear cameras
- The front camera can shoot 4K video
Rubin reportedly raised $US300 million (£231 million) recently for Essential. According to one analysis, the round values his startup at $US993 million (£765 million), making it almost a unicorn before it even has a product on the market.