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The Essential Phone will work on all four major U.S. carriers, for the most part (Update: AT&T response)
Update (5/31): AT&T has provided Android Authority with an official comment on the Essential Phone:
We have been and continue to be open to any customer bringing compatible devices to our network. We will be able to comment more on the level of compatibility at the phone’s launch.
Original post (5/30): Earlier today, Android creator Andy Rubin officially marked his return to the smartphone scene with the Essential Phone, which features a unique take on a big screen and powerful internals. As for whether the phone plays nice with all four major U.S. carriers, Essential promises that it does, but there seem to be some caveats with such a statement.
Starting with Verizon, a company spokesperson said that while the Essential phone will work on the network, no promises were made about the experience one might have to get the phone to work. The spokesperson did not say whether Big Red will carry the Essential phone in any capacity.
While the phone might work on Verizon, we can’t promise the same experience and quality of service as devices that have been tested and approved for use on our network.
T-Mobile issued a more optimistic comment to the outlet, but it sounds as if the carrier will not directly offer the Essential Phone to customers.
We’re excited for Andy Rubin and his team (the device looks amazing), and welcome customers purchasing Essential to bring it to the fastest and most advanced 4G LTE in the country through our BYOD program. We’ll have more to share closer to general availability in terms of what advanced network features might be available to Essential.
Sprint also confirmed the Essential phone will work on its network. Similarly to T-Mobile, however, we will have to wait a bit to hear which of Sprint’s network features the phone will support.
Essential’s debut smartphone will operate on our network. More specific information will be provided at a later date.
Finally, AT&T has yet to issue a comment on the matter. Because T-Mobile and AT&T live on similar network bands, we can assume the Essential Phone will work on the latter. We’ve reached out to AT&T for comment.
All in all, it appears as if the Essential Phone will be one of those rare devices that will work on all four major U.S. carriers. The question now becomes how much of a network’s features will the Essential Phone support. In other words, features like HD voice and Wi-Fi calling might not work across the board, but we will have to wait and see whether that is truly the case.