OnePlus has managed to build itself a nice little niche in the budget-flagship part of the market with phones like the new OnePlus 6. However, all its phones have been sold direct to consumers as unlocked devices. Now, CEO and co-founder Pete Lau says the Chinese company is looking into deals with US carriers as well as rolling out its first 5G phone, PCMag reports.
On the 5G front, OnePlus says that could happen as soon as next year. The company has always worked closely with Qualcomm to include the latest and most powerful SoC in its phones. Thus, OnePlus will likely be one of the first to roll out a phone with 5G connectivity.
US carriers are not expected to begin consumer deployments of 5G until 2019, and initial markets will be extremely limited. The first round of devices will also be limited to Wi-Fi hotspots. Phones won’t come until later. OnePlus traditionally does two major phone releases per year, so the early 2019 device may still be 4G with a late 2019 version running on 5G.
Currently, OnePlus’ phones are GSM/LTE unlocked. So, they work on AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. If you want one, you need to purchase it directly from OnePlus. The OnePlus 6 starts at $530, which is a good deal for what you get. The phone packs the same processor as the Galaxy S9 with more RAM and better software. However, the total price of a phone isn’t as important as it once was.
Most US consumers purchase smartphones from their carriers on payment plans. So, a phone might cost $900 total, but the price is split up over two years. At that point, the difference between a $900 phone and a $600 phone is a few bucks on each bill. It’s hard to convince consumers to spend $530 on a phone up front, even if that’s a better deal in the long run.
Lau says carrier sales in the US would allow more people to try OnePlus phones before buying them. He’s confident the company’s speedy software will win them over. Lau also dismisses any concern about carriers overloading OnePlus phones with bloatware. I doubt OnePlus would be able to keep all carrier bloat off its phones, but at least Lau understands how much we hate bloatware.
OnePlus launched the OnePlus 6 in May, and it sold a million units in 22 days. That’s the fastest selling phone it’s made yet. The next phone should debut late this year with or without a carrier deal.
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