Essential, the new hardware startup led by Android co-creator Andy Rubin, on Thursday said its debut smartphone is now available to pre-order.
Essential says the device, which is simply called Phone, is available at Sprint, Best Buy, and its own website.
As previously announced, it costs $US699 outright, and is only available in the US to start. Only the black version of the Phone is available, too; Essential said earlier this week that models with a white finish are currently delayed.
Sprint is running a promotion in which shoppers can lease the phone for $US14.59 a month for 18 months, though you’ll have to either purchase the phone outright or trade it in for another device once that period is up. Sprint says the phone is estimated to ship by August 28.
Reports yesterday said those who pre-registered to buy the Essential Phone had started to receive emails from the company saying their device would ship in the next week. Rubin also said last Wednesday that Essential would begin revealing release details for the Phone within a week, so Thursday’s update was not unexpected.
Essential has come under fire for missing previous release deadlines. Rubin said in May that the Phone would start shipping within 30 days. The release on Thursday comes a little over two months after the device’s initial unveiling.
The Essential Phone is a high-end device designed to be in the same class as popular flagships like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8. It comes with the usual slate of top-level specs, a titanium and ceramic finish, a clean version of Android, and a display with minimal borders. Apple’s next iPhone is expected to use a similar display design. It will also support a family of “modular” accessories, beginning with a 360-degree camera.
Despite that backing, the Essential Phone isn’t likely to be a serious threat to Apple and Samsung anytime soon: Apart from the company’s sheer newness, Sprint is the only carrier that will be selling the device through its retail channels, and the majority of US buyers still buy their smartphones through carriers.
The device is still compatible with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile — all of which have more subscribers than Sprint — but you’ll have to buy an unlocked model outright and port it to one of those carriers yourself.
Still, the Essential Phone itself looks to be suitably premium. Business Insider will have a full review in the near future.