Essential, the new tech startup from Android co-creator Andy Rubin, announced on Monday that Sprint will be the exclusive carrier partner for its upcoming smartphone, the PH-1, in the US.
This means that, if you’re the type that only buys your phones through a carrier’s retail channels, you’ll have to go through Sprint to get the new Android device. Sprint says the device will be available at Best Buy as well.
Sprint hasn’t specified how much the Essential PH-1 will cost through its site and stores, and only reaffirmed that the device is “expected to launch later this summer.” It’s also not clear if the partnership is permanent, or meant solely for the phone’s launch.
Sprint firmly trails the other three major carriers in the US — Verizon, AT&T, and the surging T-Mobile — in terms of total subscribers, so Essential’s decision to side with the carrier seems questionable on the surface. Although sales of unlocked phones — that is, those that aren’t tied to one specific carrier — are on the rise, the majority of phone buyers in the US still buy…