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Essential, the new hardware startup led by Android cocreator Andy Rubin, on Thursday said its debut smartphone was now available to preorder.
Essential says the device, called the Essential Phone, is available at Sprint, Best Buy, and its website.
As previously announced, it costs $699 outright and is available in only 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 were delayed.
Sprint is running a promotion in which you can lease the phone for $14.59 a month for 18 months, though you’d have to either purchase the phone outright or trade it in for another device once that period is up. Sprint estimates the phone will ship by August 28.
Reports on Wednesday said those who preregistered 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 on August 9 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 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.) The Essential Phone 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 sell the device through its retail channels, and most US consumers 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’d 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 soon.