CHINESE PHONE MAKER OnePlus will show off a 5G prototype at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this month.
While a full announcement isn't on the cards, OnePlus confirmed in an email to INQ that visitors to its MWC booth will be able "to connect and communicate with our community over a 5G network," adding that it'll showcase the "capabilities of 5G gaming on a OnePlus 5G prototype."
The prototype will likely offer a glimpse at what OnePlus' 5G smartphone has on offer; we already know it'll pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 processor, and that it'll launch exclusively on the EE network later this year.
We also know that it won't arrive as the OnePlus 7, which is expected to launch as a standalone handset in May. OnePlus confirmed earlier this year that its incoming 5G smartphone will also be the first in an all-new lineup from the company that will co-exist alongside its current array of numerically-branded devices.
This decision was made because the handset's added 5G smarts will significantly increase the cost of the device, pushing it beyond the usual price range of OnePlus flagships.
15/1/19: OnePlus has confirmed that its much-hyped 5G smartphone will launch "before the end of May" next year.
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau confirmed this during an interview with CNET, where he also spoke out about the smartphones' price-tag. While we already know that the as-yet-unnamed device will be more expensive than the OnePlus smartphones currently on offer, Lau says that the device itself will be priced without profit in mind.
"The 5G product is not expected to equate to huge sales," he said. "It's still early stage. But by 2020 it could already be very different."
Part of this conservative outlook is based on how much the phone will cost to make; Lau notes that the 5G components will be much more expensive than the 4G components in current smartphones, but this is a price the firm is willing to pay to be first to market with a 5G device.
"With a focus on being one of the first companies to deliver a 5G phone, our engineers and product development team can receive an early start on how to best develop a premium 5G phone without compromise to design and user experience," Lau said.
Finally, Lau revealed that the OnePlus 5G phone will look a lot like the firm's current devices; expect a glass frame, an under-display fingerprint scanner and OnePlus' inoffensive 'teardrop' notch.
6/12/18: UK operator EE will be the first network in the world to offer OnePlus' incoming 5G smartphone.
OnePlus announced EE as its 5G launch partner at Qualcomm's summit event in Hawaii on Wednesday, where it also confirmed that the device will be powered by the chipmaker's new Snapdragon 855 processor.
Pete Lau, CEO and founder of OnePlus, 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."
No further details about OnePlus' 5G smartphone were announced, but earlier rumours claim it'll be the firm's most expensive smartphone yet, with a starting price of around £600 in Blighty.
20/11/18: OnePlus' first 5G smartphone will, unsurprisingly, be more expensive than its current crop of handsets.
According to "people close to the matter" speaking to Fudzilla, the 5G-capable OnePlus handset will start at "at least" $649 (around £505) in the US, $100 more than the $549 starting price of the OnePlus 6T.
There's no word yet on UK pricing, but as the OnePlus 6T starts at £499, we can expect the as-yet-unnamed handset to fetch around £599.
Fudzilla's sources also claim that the smartphone will pack Qualcomm's unannounced Snapdragon 855 processor along with the chipmaker's X50 5G NR modem. They also add weight to earlier rumours that the handset won't arrive as the OnePlus 7, but notes that a 5G variant of this handset is likely.
12/11/18: Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, it looks like the OnePlus 7 won't be the first 5G handset from the Chinese phone maker.
A report from CNET Spain, citing sources close to OnePlus, claims that the company's first 5G device will also be the first in an all-new lineup from the company that will co-exist alongside its current array of numerically-branded devices.
This decision was made, the sources claim, because the handset's added 5G smarts will significantly increase the cost of the device, pushing it beyond the usual price range of OnePlus flagships.
This means it's unlikely that 5G support will make its way to OnePlus' 'regular' smartphone lineup; the OnePlus 6T and subsequent OnePlus 7 will instead look set to retain their self-styled 'flagship killer' status with stripped-back features and affordable(ish) price-tags.
While we now don't know what OnePlus' first 5G smartphone will be called, we do know that it's definitely coming. Speaking at a Qualcomm event on last month, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei confirmed that the company will be releasing 5G device next year.
"We definitely have 5G planned for next year," Pei boasted, adding: "We will be the first, if not one of the first partners with Qualcomm to commercially launch 5G globally."
He did mention, however, that OnePlus has been developing 5G devices since "as early as late 2016", adding that his team had already conducted a 5G test at Qualcomm's headquarters in San Diego back in August.
Pei didn't confirm when we'd be seeing the device, but rumours are pointing to an unveiling at next year's MWC. Adding
This has been backed up by remarks from Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon, who said that the first device to sport its new Snapdragon X50 5G modem with downsized QTM052 mmWave antenna module will appear in the first quarter of next year. µ
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