back to article Essentially puzzling: Rubin's hype-phone ties up with… Sprint?

The much-anticipated Essential Phone has been inked into a deal with Sprint to be the sole endorsed carrier for the handset. The agreement means Sprint will be the only carrier to sell the Essential handset in its branded stores and offer discounted pricing. People using other carriers can still get an Essential phone, but …

  1. Vector

    "Sprint is the midst of negotiations for a possible merger with T‑Mobile US"

    Being a T-Mobile customer, I certainly hope they are not foolish enough to follow through on a deal with Sprint. The genesis of Sprint's current woes can be found in their acquisition of Nextel and many of the same issues would also apply here, most notably, the need to merge two disparate network technologies! The costs to move users from Nextel's network over to Sprint's far outweighed the gains of a larger customer base and left Sprint swimming in red ink.

    As to Ruben's new toy, it's pretty close to DOA out the door. It's one "innovation" (which has been tried before in various incarnations with little success) is tied to a price way to high to be enticing to the general public. So, in the end, they're tying a dead phone to a dead carrier. No loss.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "Sprint is the midst of negotiations for a possible merger with T‑Mobile US"

      Being a T-Mobile customer, I certainly hope they are not foolish enough to follow through on a deal with Sprint.

      Given the current regulation climate I would expect the merger to go ahead quickly, though given Softbank's debt structure it might actually be T-Mobile doing the buying.

      Sprint/Nextel's IDEN and WiMax stuff is largely behind them now. It's just the costs they still have to deal with.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then it's Essentially dead in the water.

    The phone was already an over priced POS that didn't deserve the hype. Add to that being stuck with Sprint? I doubt it'll sell in any volume that makes a blip on the radar of even the most optamisticly deluded fanboy.

    It's almost like he was TRYING to make the thing fail...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Then it's Essentially dead in the water.

      It just shows that Sprint and Essential were equally desperate and were stuck with each other.

    2. Mike Moyle

      Re: Then it's Essentially dead in the water.

      "Heh, heh, heh, amazing. It's absolutely amazing. But under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit." -- Leo Bloom -- "The Producers"

  3. earlyberd
    Thumb Down

    Sprint is desperate, the other carriers are not.

    You'd have to be desperate in order to ink a deal for a phone that introduces more unnecessary design compromises than the latest iPhone.

    This is not the sort of "modular" phone that consumers are clamoring for. Hey Andy, think Project Ara, not LG G5. Oh wait, the idiots at Alphabet already killed Ara.

    Guess I'm not upgrading this year.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Sprint is desperate, the other carriers are not.

      Mechanically, the Project Ara was always going to result in a sub-optimal handset, in terms of size and ergonomics (you'd be using physical connectors many times bigger than the actual components that they connect), and not to mention dust ingress and the like. There were also issues such as matching a camera module with a DSP on the SoC to handle its output. An enticing concept, but just that that.

      However, lots of people would like to slap on a bigger battery, a specialist camera, a good microphone, a keyboard or a gamepad to their phones - and they already do, via microUSB or Bluetooth - but again, these approaches can be suboptimal (eg placement of USB port). These addons are all supported in Android by the GreyBus standard, but currently the only sane physical connector is sadly proprietary to Motorola.

      By contrast, the Essential phone just uses two power pins, and uses a wireless link to connect modules, limiting what the modules can do and presumably using more battery power than a wired link. Motorola's phones have been reasonably well received (even ignoring their Moto Mod connector), and the Moto Mod connector has been supported over a couple of generations of handset (unlike LG's modules) and has even sparked a crowd-funded project to make a Psion-style snap-on keyboard. If Moto can't make their modular system work in the market, what chance does Essential have?

      The most popular modular phone was the perhaps the Nokia 6210 - its bottom-mounted docking plates continued into its battery bay, so new features such as Bluetooth could be added by buying a new battery with a Bluetooth chip in it.

  4. Candy

    [They want] to get its first models into the hands of as many consumers as possible...

    No. No, they don't. They want to sell through enough units to prove the tech and bed down the manufacturing processes and drivers.

    They literally can't sell more than a certain number (No, I don't know what that is but I've heard guesstimates of around 50k units.) as , for example, they can't ramp up production of the titanium frame in the phone to massive scale just yet.

    The next model will be the one to watch if they can survive the cash bonfire needed to iron out the wrinkles and extend the range and robustness of the mods.

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Not actually a Sprint phone

    Sprint is still punishing their customers using a restricted BYOD list and long contracts for locked phones. Everyone else would buy an unlocked phone.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The much-anticipated…


    Not even the next I-Phone is generating much excitement, so much chance for another phone. We all want NEW toys!

  7. big_D Silver badge

    Carrier tie-in?

    That was normal in the 90s, but why would a company sign such a deal these days?

    I haven't bought a carrier branded phone for over 15 years.

    My current employer buys new smartphones in bulk for its employees, instead of paying the carrier tax. It also makes moving between carriers easy, just swap the SIMs out.

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