OnePlus 9 Lite may not come to the US — what you need to know

OnePlus 9 Pro renders
(Image credit: Lets Go Digital/Concept Creator)

We’ve been hearing rumors about the OnePlus 9 Lite for a little while now, and while we like the idea of a cheaper version of the upcoming OnePlus 9, it may not be all good news. 

According to Twitter leaker TechDroider, the OnePlus 9 Lite is coming to China, India, and maybe the EU. Unfortunately that means it probably isn’t going to be available in the U.S.

TechDroider notes that the OnePlus 9 Lite is currently listed under two model numbers: LE2100 and LE2101. It’s not clear which is heading to which country, though it suggests minor differences between the two. What those differences may be are similarly unclear, though it’s likely due to differences in what is and isn’t allowed in China and India.

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It’s not clear why the OnePlus 9 Lite may not come to the U.S., and it’s likely to draw comparisons to the original OnePlus Nord. The mid-range phone was released in select markets last August, including India, the UK, and the EU. 

But American buyers were left out, supposedly because the combination of the U.S.’s carrier-based sales system, and the tight profit margins, meant it wouldn’t work. Instead we were forced to wait a few months for the cheaper, but also noticeably less powerful, OnePlus Nord N10 5G and N100.

A similar situation may be happening with the OnePlus 9 Lite, considering its position as the “low-cost” member of the OnePlus 9 range. Even if it is powered by last year’s Snapdragon 865 — which is still a very powerful chip — OnePlus may end up selling the phone with similarly tight profit-margins. That could mean no carrier sales, and thus no U.S. availability. That idea doesn’t explain why the phone might miss the European market, though.

Of course this is pure speculation, based on the assumption that TechDroider’s info is accurate. At this stage, we can’t know for sure, and we’re going to have to wait for OnePlus to set the record straight. Since the OnePlus 9 is expected to launch in March, we shouldn’t have too long to wait.

Thankfully the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro should still be arriving in the U.S. and Europe as normal. We’ll bring you more information as we hear it.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.