There may soon be yet another smartphone competitor on the market.
Smartphone provider Essential has made their $300 million round of funding official, two months after it was first reported. The new financing comes from Chinese investment holding company Tencent, as well as Amazon’s Alexa Fund.
Details about where and when to buy the phone are murky, though Best Buy and Amazon have signed on to be initial retailers. The phone’s release date will provided a week from today, according to Essential president Niccolo De Masi. There will be a launch exclusivity deal with Sprint in the US and Telus in Canada, though more carriers will come towards the end of the year.
Essential was founded by Andy Rubin, the co-creator of the mega-popular Android smartphone software, so the man knows a thing or two about what the market is like. Essential also knows how to temper expectations, stating that low single digit sales in the millions would be very successful for year one. Compare this to 41 million iPhones sold in Apple’s third fiscal quarter and Samsung selling 79 million in their second quarter, it’s clear that Essential clearly knows the strength of their competition.
Equidate estimates the total valuation of Essential to be around $1 billion, though the smartphone company is not sharing any exact figures.
The hype around Essential comes largely from its creator, a seasoned smartphone veteran who knows what consumers really want. The Essential smartphone prioritizes screen space, a trend other huge retailers are noticing, evident in purported leaks of the iPhone 8. The Essential and the leaked iPhone 8 also both lack bezels.