According to Twitter leaker TechDroider (opens in new tab), 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.
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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.
[Exclusive] OnePlus 9 Lite Models. LE2100LE2101It is Coming to China and India. Might come to EU, can't confirm as of now.The device will feature Snapdragon 865 5G CPU.January 13, 2021
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.