Essential confirms $300M funding, Amazon and Best Buy retail availability


It was almost three weeks ago when Andy Rubin attributed the phone's delay to getting it certified with mobile carriers.

After two months of delays, the Essential Phone still doesn't have a final release date pinned down. The total funding required for the smartphone is over $300 Million but the contribution made by Amazon is not revealed yet.

Andy Rubin, who created Android and sold it to Google back in 2005, hopes to create a band similar to Apple's, where revolutionary hardware and software combine for a magical user experience. Essential also disclosed that Best Buy Co. stores and Inc. will be its retail launch partners in the U.S.

In addition, the startup unveiled that it has raised $330 million in its latest round of funding from a large roster of investors that includes Amazon, Tencent, Access Technology Ventures, Vy Capital, and Australia's sovereign-wealth fund. Equidate, a marketplace for private-company shares, estimates Essential's valuation at $1 billion. But, even with its expanded war chest, the company will have a hard time trying to break into the highly competitive phone market, which is dominated by Samsung and Apple. Despite its design and specs, the Essential phone is widely anticipated for the fact that it is designed by the very own founder of Android.

When the Essential Phone finally does launch, which could now reasonably be near the end of August or the beginning of September, it will have to face-off against the heavy-hitters of the industry.

"Essential Products has a compelling vision and roadmap for connected devices that integrates voice technology in novel ways", Paul Bernard, director of corporate development for the Alexa Fund, said in a statement. The funding round comes from investors including Tencent, as well as Amazon's Alexa Fund, among others. "We look forward to what will come from this collaboration".

First published August 9, 8:58 a.m. PT. Update, 12:58 p.m.: Adds Andy Rubin's comments.