OnePlus: We’ll Have a 5G Phone in First Half of 2019

OnePlus may have just launched a new flagship phone, but it's got its eye on next year, too, and the arrival of the faster 5G networking standard.

At a launch event today (Oct. 29) for the OnePlus 6T, which is the first smartphone to launch with an in-display fingerprint sensor in the U.S.,
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau reiterated the company's plans to release a 5G-compatible phone. And it should be ready in the first half of 2019.

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau, center, talks about the company's 5G plans.

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau, center, talks about the company's 5G plans.

Lau declined to give more details, laughing that his PR team would be mad if he spilled the beans on the OnePlus product roadmap.

“I can give an overview and say that in the first half of the year we’ll have a 5G product,” Lau said via an English translator. “With our closest of partnerships with Qualcomm, we’ll work hard to bring 5G capability as soon as possible to our community and users.”

Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon confirmed that the chipset maker is working with OnePlus to make sure the Chinese company is one of the first to market with a 5G smartphone.

“Like every new generation of wireless, what will come first will be premium smartphones,” Amon said during the press conference. “Qualcomm has been very hard at work to bring that technology to consumers as early as the first half of 2019. OnePlus will likely be among the companies leading in bringing 5G to their customer base. We want to make 5G a reality in 2019.”

MORE: The Truth About 5G: What’s Coming (and What’s Not) in 2018

A 5G phone will be useless without 5G networks to use it on, and U.S. carriers are racing to build out the infrastructure needed to upgrade their wireless spectrum. We already know the first 5G device won’t be a smartphone. AT&T just completed the first 5G connection between a consumer-ready device, in this case a mobile hotspot, and a live 5G wireless network. We’ll see more 5G mobile hotspots toward the end of the year, which will bridge the gap between 5G network launches and 5G smartphones.

Last week, Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix 3, a 5G-capable phone that's unlikely to ever reach the U.S. As for this country and possible 5G devices, in August, Sprint and LG claimed that the first 5G-compatible smartphone would be an LG device on Sprint’s network. That device is also due in the first half of 2019. Verizon is working with Motorola to release a 5G-capable Moto Mod that works as an add-on to the currently available Moto Z3. And then there's Samsung, which is rumored to be working on a special edition of its Galaxy S10 flagship phone that would offer 5G connectivity.

It’s unclear of OnePlus will beat these other phone makers to the punch, or whether the promise of a 5G-ready OnePlus flagship will cause potential buyers to hold off on the 6T.