The OnePlus 8 is the first device OnePlus has ever sold through Verizon. That marks a huge milestone for the phone maker, and will likely put its latest phone in the hands of many more customers. However, if you plan to buy your OnePlus 8 through the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., there's something you should know about this particular model.
Verizon's model of the OnePlus 8, technically called the OnePlus 8 5G UW, bears a slight design discrepancy when compared to unlocked variants of the device, as well as the OnePlus 8 sold at T-Mobile stores. Verizon's version supports the carrier's ultra-wideband 5G millimeter-wave network, but to make that possible, one of the phone's antennas needed to be placed squarely in the same location as where you'd typically find the volume rocker on other models, PhoneArena (opens in new tab) reports.
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As a result, the vast majority of OnePlus 8 cases are not designed for Verizon's version, whose volume buttons are lower along the side of the phone. And so you can't just snag a cheap case off of Amazon like you would for any other OnePlus handset and slap it on your Verizon-bought OnePlus 8, because it won't fit.
Strangely, even OnePlus' online store (opens in new tab) offers no accessories for sale for the OnePlus 8 5G UW — just the unlocked and T-Mobile models. That means Verizon customers will need to purchase a case specially made for that variant from the carrier at retail. And if there's one thing we know about accessories sold at carriers' shops, they're never the cheapest. (At $799, the OnePlus 8 5G UW already costs $100 more than the OnePlus 8 models available elsewhere, again accounting for the hardware required to work with Big Red's 5G network.)
Surely this is an annoying wrinkle to the OnePlus 8 story, though not a totally unexpected one. The unfortunate truth is that 5G is new and complicated, with a mess of different protocols at play that require unique hardware in some cases.
Millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G specifically, like what Verizon's using, needs to be deployed in devices in a highly specialized manner at this stage, on a per-device, per-network basis. The sub-6 GHz style of 5G, which is slower but carries further, doesn't have that problem, because it's built atop existing 4G LTE infrastructure that all carriers already use and have been operating for years.
It's the same reason why the $999 Samsung Galaxy S20 isn't yet available on Verizon. That device lacks mmWave tech, which the larger and more expensive S20 Plus and S20 Ultra have. Verizon's 5G network at this stage is entirely mmWave-based, and so the carrier is launching its own exclusive version of that device sometime this summer, just like OnePlus has been forced to do with its new phone.
With great advancements often come great headaches, and 5G is no different. As PhoneArena adds, dual SIM support is also absent on all OnePlus 8 models, even though the phone has a SIM card tray with two slots. There were growing pains when 4G LTE took shape, too; here's hoping that the next generation of OnePlus devices will be a little easier to buy cases for.