On Thursday, Andy Rubin announced the official rollout of the Essential Phone in the United States. The Android device is available right now at Best Buy, Sprint, and Essential itself, who is offering a bundle along with the 360 Camera for just $749.
The announcement comes one week after a release date was promised for this date. Rubin and others had said that the handsets were already in mass production, and that launches in the United States and Canada were imminent this year.
Europe, on the other hand, will have to wait a little longer, possibly until the end of the year or perhaps early 2018 to get on the Essential wave. More announcements came along with the soft launch of the device, so let’s break them down to see the whole picture.
We're excited to announce that Essential Phone is now available online through https://t.co/5XqZeQu9cW and partners: https://t.co/pwAIdgv7zI pic.twitter.com/GmWzT1P6Os
— Essential (@essential) August 17, 2017
Essential promises neither bloatware nor branding
As part of the idea behind Essential, the small crew led by Andy Rubin claims they want your devices to be truly yours and not the other way around. For this reason, there is no visible branding or logos in the new Phone, and you will get to choose from four different color combinations.
Another one of the selling points of the device is the fact that, along with near-stock Android, Essential will ship it with virtually no preloaded apps, save for a couple that will allegedly be part of what makes modular attachments work and perhaps some type of proprietary camera software.
Rubin and co. are all up for open ecosystems and playing nice with third-party developers that create cross-compatible services. The man behind Android even took a swing at Apple in his blog post, questioning why anyone would keep using FaceTime when there are apps like WhatsApp available for everyone.
Three years security updates, two years (minimum) device support
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) August 17, 2017
Android updates and mods will keep the Phone up to speed
Essential Products knows that programmed obsolescence is a thing and they apparently hate that it is, so another lure for their target audience is the fact that Google will support two years of OS updates for Android on the Essential Phone along with monthly security updates as a complement to keep you safe.
Moreover, the Essential Phone will outlive some of its competition thanks to modular enhancements that snap onto the phone through a magnetic connector on the back. The first of them all will launch alongside the handset, a 360 Camera that is going for sale as a standalone device or bundled with the Phone.
Andy Rubin also promised new mods “every few months,” similar to the release schedule that Motorola follows in bulk launching a couple of Moto Mods all at once. While it usually goes for $199, you can pick a discounted 360 Camera for just $50 with the purchase of an Essential Phone through their official site.