EE among carriers in discussion with Android founder’s company over exclusivity deal.

Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone is looking to spread its reach beyond the United States, according to The Financial Times. The paper reports that Essential wants to bring its phone to the UK, mainland Europe and Japan, and that the company is already in talks with UK carriers including EE around an exclusivvity deal.

Essential’s bezel-less, modular-equipped, stock Android handset will go on sale for $699 in the United States, though there’s no firm release date for the device just yet. In the U.S., Sprint is confirmed to be the exclusive launch partner. The device missed its launch target of June in the States, however today’s FT report quotes Essential COO Niccolo de Masi as saying the release is “iminent.”

High-profile, high-end exclusives are relatively rare in the UK market, with recent exceptions being the Google Pixel on EE, and the OnePlus 3, 3T and 5 on O2. Working with a single, excusive carrier partner has clear benefits for a newcomer like Essential — for one, allowing it to focus its marketing efforts for its inaugural handset with the help of a major player in the local market.

If the U.S. price translates over directly to the UK, Brits can expect to pay around £640-650 (including VAT) for the Essential Phone. That’s flagshup money for sure, putting it in the same price bracket as the HTC U11 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

Android fans in the UK will likely welcome the opportunity to buy a genuinely interesting handset — however, the Essential Phone will face strong competition from the likes of Samsung, LG, Google and Apple in the latter half of 2017

– Source