Amazon invested in Andy Rubin's consumer electronics startup Essential, the Palo Alto, California-based firm revealed on Wednesday, adding that its business was also recently backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent. The exact financial details of individual investments weren't disclosed, though the latest funding round held by the company yielded $300 million in total. Amazon will retail the upcoming Essential PH-1 in the United States, though it's currently unclear whether that partnership would have happened if the e-commerce giant didn't decide to financially back the company founded by the creator of the Android operating system. Neither party clarified whether Amazon will also be supporting the launch of the Essential PH-1 in other markets which the firm is targeting and more details on the matter may not follow for at least several more weeks seeing how the device itself was delayed for an unspecified reason and is even late to its release in the United States, the first market that's set to receive it.
Apart from Amazon, Essential is also partnering with Best Buy for the U.S. launch of its first smartphone, the firm confirmed on Wednesday. Its president Niccolo De Masi stated that the device will be out in "a few weeks" without elaborating on that time frame, thus mimicking Essential's previous statements on the matter. The PH-1 itself is a modular smartphone that can be equipped with various accessories that magnetically snap onto the top-right corner of its rear plate and was introduced as being more future-proof than its contemporary alternatives. According to Mr. Rubin's previous statements, the handset is meant to address a number of issues associated with the Android ecosystem, including planned obsolescence and software fragmentation.
Apart from the unconventionally designed high-end smartphone whose display panel wraps around its secondary camera, Essential is also developing the Home, a smart speaker running the company's proprietary Ambient OS. The Internet of Things (IoT) device is expected to be released later this year in the U.S. and may eventually make its way to other markets. Sprint is the only wireless carrier partnering with Essential in its home country where the PH-1 will be priced at $699.