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Essential Phone has reportedly only sold 5,000 units through Sprint - but why?

The Essential Phone has only sold 5,000 units since it became earlier this month. Here are the reasons why its sales are so lackluster.

Published onSeptember 27, 2017

Update, September 28, 02:40 EST: Following an update to the Fierce Wireless report we used as a source for this post, we’ve updated the post and the headline to reflect the fact that the 5,000 figure mentioned below only covers Sprint sales, and not sales of unlocked units. That said, if the 5,000 units on Sprint estimate is accurate, the unlocked sales are probably not much better either.

Original post: The Essential PH-1 has only sold 5,000 units since through Sprint its launch, according to a new report. The disappointing figure may come as a shock to many Android fans who have been following the company. Essential has had a massive amount of hype behind it since March when its founder tweeted out a picture of a bezel-less display phone. That founder just so happens to be Andy Rubin. He was one of the four founders of Android before Google bought it and continues to be extremely popular in the industry today.

On its face, the sales numbers are disappointing. But when you start to dig into why they’re so low, it begins to make a lot more sense. The Essential Phone has been a long time coming. I don’t mean that in the sense of “we’ve been waiting for a phone like this”, but rather, it was first teased SIX months ago. That’s an eternity in technology.

I’m really excited about how this is shaping up. Eager to get it in more people’s hands…
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) March 27, 2017

Teased in March and announced in May, the Essential Phone didn’t hit store shelves until September. In that time, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, HTC U11, Moto Z2 Force, Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 have all been released. A strong launch comes down to three factors: availability, quality, and hype. Essential has failed on all three counts.

First off, the phone missed its deadline. Back in May, Rubin said that the phone would ship in 30 days. Then in July, we were told it would be shipping “in a matter of weeks.” Finally, in late August, the phone finally started shipping to customers and it took until mid-September for it to show up in Sprint stores. You should never make it difficult for customers to give you their money and Essential has done just that.

The build of the Essential Phone is excellent. It’s a beautiful ceramic and titanium device with an almost bezel-less design and magnetic modular add-ons. But, the software has left people feeling lacking. The stock build of Android only has one added app, the camera. And, that’s been a big point of contention. Even though Essential has continued to release updates, we were underwhelmed in our review with picture quality. Luckily the camera is something Essential can continue to work on with software updates but any lack of true stand-out features could be hurting sales.

Essential Phone review: Maximum hardware, minimum software

Both of those factors have killed a lot of the hype that surrounded the Essential Phone. When it was just a picture on Twitter, we could only dream about what it might be. This led to a lot of speculation about features, price, build, and software. Now that the phone is real and its flaws are laid bare, the hype has significantly died down.

Despite its rocky start, Essential will be fine. The company is valued at more than a billion dollars and has an extremely influential leader in Andy Rubin. And none of this is to say that the Essential Phone is a bad phone. It’s really quite good, but when it’s hard to get, expensive, and lacking any standout features, people look elsewhere.

We’ve reached out to Essential for its comments on these numbers and we’ll update this post as soon as we hear back.

What do you think about these numbers? What are your reasons for passing up the Essential Phone? Let us know down in the comments.

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