Essential phone to be carrier exclusive with Sprint in US

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Sprint today announced it'll be the exclusive US carrier for Essential Phone, the first smartphone from Essential Products.

Essential will still sell its new Android smartphone, unlocked and without carrier contract for $699. USA Today asked Essential's President Nicolo de Masi about teaming up with the fourth largest carrier in the U.S.

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. Though Sprint will be selling the phone, the device will not carry Sprint's or any other company logo. There is no mention of when customers will be able to pick up the device from Sprint's retail store. 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 U.S. still buy their phones through carriers. That said, rumors of a potential T-Mobile-Sprint merger have picked up as of late. Rubin is also an advisor to Sprint majority owner and Softbank Group founder Masayoshi Son, and the Japanese billionaire will be increasingly leaning on Rubin's insights as he put his massive $100 billion Vision Fund to work. In the recent development, the Essential has collaborated with the Sprint in the USA.

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But under CEO Marcelo Claure, Sprint has been gaining momentum and adding subscribers.

Rubin, known as the father of Android, worked at Google for many years, before moving to China to work for Xiaomi. Sprint did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.