Essential has sold just 5,000 phones through Sprint since launch: BayStreet

Essential Products has sold an estimated 5,000 phones through Sprint since the gadget made its big retail debut in the United States earlier this month, according to estimates from BayStreet Research. That figure would put Essential well below market heavyweights like Apple and Samsung, which typically sell tens of millions of phones per quarter in the United States.

BayStreet tracks shipments of phones and other devices across the United States. Essential representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment on the BayStreet estimates.

BayStreet also clarified that its 5,000 figure is an estimate of Essential's sell-through (when a customer buys a product from a retailer) rather than its sell-in (when a retailer buys something from a manufacturer). Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the phone; most phones in the United States are sold through carriers. However, Essential also offers an unlocked version of its gadget.

Essential, the first major startup from Android founder Andy Rubin’s venture capital firm Playground, currently sells the $699 Android-powered Essential Phone through Sprint and promises to release the Essential Home smart-home hub later this year. Essential was named as one of FierceWireless’ top 15 startups to watch in 2017.

The company’s Essential PH-1 is a high-end, Android-powered mobile phone featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 128 GB of internal storage. It is made of titanium and ceramic, with magnetic modular add-ons, and notably lacks any logos. It went on sale earlier this month through Sprint after a delay of more than a month.

Sprint, for its part, is offering the Essential Phone for $14.58 a month with no money down over 18 months, marking a 50% discount worth roughly $260. The carrier also offers Essential’s 360-degree camera, a modular add-on, for $200, or $16.67 over 12 months on its installment plan.

The relatively low sales figures from BayStreet for the Essential phone can be contrasted with the company’s valuation; Bloomberg columnist Tim Culpan recently calculated that Essential is now valued at roughly $1.2 billion, the Verge reported.

Essential clearly has its work cut out for it. The company’s phone is only sold through one major U.S. carrier: the nation’s smallest, which also continues to struggle to add customers each quarter. Moreover, Essential launched its phone into a market that currently sports several major new smartphone releases—the Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8—as well as more phones on the way. Apple is scheduled to begin selling its $1,000 iPhone X later this year, while Google is widely expected to announce its Pixel 2 smartphone next month.

Further, reviews of the Essential phone have been middling, with critics praising the gadget’s design but voicing concerns about its relative lack of standout features.

In a recent interview with Time, Essential’s Rubin discussed his view of the smartphone market, noting that the company’s phone is only a part of its much wider plans to develop personal digital assistants across a range of devices.

Article updated Sept. 27 with clarification of BayStreet's estimates.