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Why Andy Rubin Is Going Exclusive With His Essential Phone

June 12, 2017, 2:30 PM UTC

Sprint will be the only wireless carrier selling the new smartphone from Android creator Andy Rubin when it debuts later in the summer, the company announced on Monday.

Rubin’s upcoming gadget, dubbed the Essential phone, resembles the popular Apple (AAPL) iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S8 but is made of titanium and ceramics. Sprint didn’t say how much it would charge for the phone, which will come with 128 GB of storage, a 5.7-inch edge-to-edge display, and Qualcomm’s fastest Snapdragon 835 processor. Rubin unveiled the phone last month amid much speculation about his plan to take on the industry’s leaders.

Sprint is the fourth-ranked carrier in the United States, trailing Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), and T-Mobile (TMUS) in total subscribers, making it a somewhat surprising choice for Rubin.

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

“We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” Essential President Niccolo de Masi told USA Today. “I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future.”

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Sprint (S) will sell the phone in its stores and online, as well as at Best Buy (BBY) stores and the retailer’s web site. Essential will also sell an unlocked version of the phone that can work on other carriers on its own web site for $699. The inclusion of Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Snapdragon 835 chip should allow the phone to reach gigabit-per-second download speeds, at least in theory, on Sprint’s 4G LTE network.

Rubin created the Android operating system software that was bought by Google (GOOGL) in 2005 and now runs over 80% of the world’s smartphones. But Google took Rubin off the phone unit in 2013, and he left the company a year later and decided to to form Essential.