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Essential Phone Now Available in Sprint Stores

Before taking the plunge and switching to the Essential Phone PH-1, the first device from Android founder Andy Rubin's new startup, you probably want to actually hold and play around with it. And now you can.

Sprint, the exclusive carrier for the handset, began taking pre-orders for it last month, but as of today started selling the Essential phone in its actual stores. Sprint in a news release pointed out that it's currently the "only US carrier that gives customers an opportunity to experience Essential Phone in person before they buy it."

For a limited time, Sprint is offering the Essential phone on an 18-month Flex lease payment plan starting at $14.58 a month with $0 down. That's a 50 percent discount, saving you more than $260. Sprint is also offering Essential's 360-degree camera attachment for $16.67 per month for 12 months, or you can just buy it outright for $199.

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With Sprint's Flex lease payment plan, you have the option after 18 months to return your device and upgrade to a new one, pay the remainder in one payment to own it, or continue making six more monthly payments to own it.

The Essential Phone PH-1 earned a "good" rating in PCMag's review; we praised its "top-notch hardware and pure Android software" but said it offers "weak low-light camera performance" and lacks the latest LTE features. The 360-degree camera also earned a "good" rating.

Meanwhile, Rubin recently issued an apology after Essential accidentally phished its own customers. The company emailed those who pre-ordered the handset asking for personal information to complete their order, but accidentally cc'd multiple customers on the message. As a result, about 70 users inadvertently emailed their personal information to other customers, thinking it was going only to Essential.

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