That doesn't mean it will only be available to Sprint customers though. Essential's CEO states that most of the phones sold in the usa are purchased at retail stores, which lines up with market estimates and makes sense given the customer has a chance to touch and feel the phone before buying. Essential Phone will be sold at all Sprint retail stores, telesales and Sprint.com as well as in U.S. Best Buy stores and on BestBuy.com.More news: SC seeks replies from AG, Hussain Nawaz on JIT's response
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Newcomers such as Huawei, OnePlus and others have had to seek new methods to sell phones, whether through retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon or direct-to-consumer. There is no mention of when customers will be able to pick up the device from Sprint's retail store.
The Essential Phone can and will work with any of the major carriers thanks to its wealth of built-in radios which will support all the major names. Andy Rubin and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, whose company owns an 83% stake in Sprint, have a relationship and partnership. USA Today says Rubin is an advisor to SoftBank's Vision Fund, though it's worth noting that SoftBank backed out of a large investment in Essential earlier this year. Rubin is selling the Essential PH-1 in part on the idea of a "cleaner" version of Android, but carriers are not known for their restraint in this regard (iPhone aside). The company is now the nation's No. 4 mobile carrier, ranking behind Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Sprint did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But if you want a carrier-locked variant, Sprint will be the way to go.