It was supposed to be ready within a month of its announcement in May, but better late than never. The Essential Phone, the new smartphone by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, is available for preorder at Sprint starting today. The premium phone is promising a range of modular accessories that can be attached to the back of the phone (starting with a 360-degree camera), along with a titanium and ceramic build and a display that nearly covers the whole front of the phone. As it turns out, Rubin’s not done making promises, either.
Even if we’re talking about the co-founder of Android, it holds true that users should be skeptical about a new company providing consistent updates to Android — a problem that plagues even larger, more well-established companies. Rubin has promised that Essential will receive two years of Android updates guaranteed. That still seems kind of short, especially now that users are slowly but surely starting to hang onto their smartphones for longer. Still, it’s better than nothing — all too many Android phones get about a year’s worth of support, if that.
Given we’re talking about a phone stocked with premium features, it’s no surprise that the full price is rough — $700. While the titanium and ceramic build sounds like it will be nice on paper, the phone is missing a few premium features that should give you pause when looking at that price tag — there’s no waterproofing, no OLED display, and the 3,040 mAh battery seems rather small for the hardware it will need to power. On the other hand, there’s that enormous hi-res display, Bluetooth 5.0 for more stable wireless headphone connections, and dual 13 MP rear cameras with a f/1.85 lens and laser autofocus, which sounds awfully good on paper.
Fortunately, there’s a way to get it for cheaper. At the outset, it’ll be possible to secure the Essential phone for $14.58 per month over 18 months with no down payment on one of Sprint’s leasing plans. They’re also offering that add-on 4K 360-degree camera for $200, or an additional $16.67 per month over 12 months.
For now, only the black version of the phone is available for preorder, with Sprint saying that the white model will arrive later. There’s no hard ship date for the phone, although Sprint says they expect units in stores sometime in the next few weeks. We’re not yet sure when or if we can expect the phone to be made available unlocked.