Andy Rubin's Essential preparing for debut in Europe, Japan

AndyRubin
Essential is Andy Rubin's first project after leaving Google in 2014.

Andy Rubin’s Essential is already looking to launch its upcoming phone in overseas markets despite missing its goal of releasing a phone in the United States by June. But exactly when the phone will hit U.S. shelves is still uncertain.

The Verge picked up on a Financial Times interview with Niccolo de Masi, who said Essential executives are preparing to launch the company’s first handset in Europe and Japan, and is already in talks with multiple U.K. carriers including EE to finalize a launch date. De Masi said a U.S. release is “imminent,” but didn’t discuss a specific launch date.

Rubin, who created Android, made headlines two weeks ago when he unveiled his first project since leaving Google in 2014.

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The company’s first phone, the Essential PH-1, is a high-end, Android-powered gadget positioned to compete with Google’s Pixel and Samsung’s new Galaxy S8: The $700 modular handset is sold unlocked and features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 128 GB of internal storage and a 360-degree camera that can shoot spherical UHD images at 30 frames per second.

Essential’s U.S. launch date came and went a few weeks ago without much in the way of comment from the company, as The Verge noted.

Sprint announced a few weeks ago that it will be the first carrier to sell the Essential Phone to consumers in the United States at launch this summer. The phone—which will also be sold unlocked for use on other networks—will be available at Sprint retail stores, through Sprint's online and telemarketing channels, and at Best Buy.

The new phone is made of titanium and ceramic and notably lacks any logos, and Essential began taking preorders for the device from U.S. buyers two weeks ago. Those materials may make the phone more resistant to drops and scratches than aluminum and other more commonly used elements. And the PH-1’s modular add-ons—which are magnetic—could prove compelling.

But analysts generally agree the new phone will need every advantage it can get as it tries to elbow its way into a market where growth has slowed to a crawl.

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