We hear a lot from OnePlus about how it isn't a fan of adopting new technology until it's ready, which is why its phones often seem slow to include features that other phones have had for a while - wireless charging being the best example. But it clearly doesn't have any concerns about 5G, and has repeatedly promised it will have a 5G smartphone ready in the near future. Now it has confirmed a 5G OnePlus phone will arrive next year, and has promised it will be the first commercially available 5G handset in Europe.
Lots of companies have been making bold claims about how they will be the first to release a 5G-capable smartphone, OnePlus included. In fact I'd be hard-pressed to think of a Chinese company that hasn't said as much, meaning there's bound to be a lot of competition to make that claim. Now, though, OnePlus has changed its tune slightly, and is promising that it will definitely release the first commercial 5G phone in Europe - alongside EE and BT.
OnePlus says its 5G phone will be " available first on UK operator EE" which suggests it won't be an exclusive, but since EE has confirmed it will be the first UK network to roll out commercial 5G services it's as good as. Vodafone has plans to coincide its own launch with the release od 5G handsets, though, so hopefully it won't be such a long wait for those refusing to switch.
Unfortunately we don't know much about this phone, other than the fact it will run on Qualcomm's 5G-ready Snapdragon 855 chipset. It's not clear when in 2019 the phone will arrive, how much it will be, or even what sort of device it is.
Update: Apparently the next OnePlus flagship will the one to have 5G, though it's not clear whether this means all OnePlus 7s will be 5G capable or if you'll have to buy a special variant. So much for those rumours it would be a distinct device then.
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said:
“EE and OnePlus have a shared vision: to give our customers the best connected experience possible. We’re working together on cutting edge technology to deliver that, and we’re leading the world on the journey to 5G. Adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network will increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most. We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or Wi-Fi 100% of the time.”
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said:
“The pursuit of speed has defined the OnePlus DNA since OnePlus was founded five years ago. There’s no one more suitable than OnePlus to make a 5G smartphone. Our users are always eager to try new things and they are now ready to experience the next generation of connectivity and speed. In response, OnePlus has poured efforts into 5G research since 2016. Today, we stand poised to embrace the dawn of 5G.”
It's been a big week for 5G so far, thanks to Qualcomm's ongoing Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii, and it's nice to hear some Euro-centric news. After all Samsung has been dominating the news with news of its own 5G handsets, which are rumoured to be launching in South Korea when local 5G networks launch in March. It has been confirmed the company will also release 5G devices in the US via the Verizon and AT&T networks, with the latter promising at least two Samsung phones.
It's not clear when we can expect to hear more from OnePlus about its 5G ambitions, but there is the matter of that mystery event in January that was teased a few months ago. Sadly OnePlus wouldn't comment on that when asked, so that's pure speculation on my part. It makes sense, though, and you know it.
We'll bring you more as we know it.