You may finally be able to buy a OnePlus phone through a carrier in the U.S. No, not the OnePlus 6 — but rather, the upcoming, unannounced OnePlus 6T.
The popular boutique smartphone brand will offer the OnePlus 6T through T-Mobile, according to PCMag’s Sascha Segan. The launch could occur in October or November, Segan tweeted, which would coincide with when OnePlus is expected to unveil its next phone. For reference, the OnePlus 5T was revealed in mid-November 2017.
OnePlus co-founders Pete Lau and Carl Pei have been upfront about their desire to grow business in the U.S., and carrier support is typically the best way to make that happen. Shortly after the 5T’s launch, both Lau and Pei said they’d begin negotiating with U.S. networks in earnest in 2018, though they weren’t necessarily promising a partnership.
It’s not difficult to understand their trepidation. Teasing U.S. carrier availability is risky business for most phone makers, but especially those hailing from China. Huawei was embarrassed after its collaboration with AT&T to sell the Mate 10 Pro was shut down at the 11th hour, over pressure from the U.S. officials fearing a link between the Shenzhen-based manufacturer and the Chinese government.
That means that while Segan’s report is certainly encouraging — and OnePlus’ stock has been on the rise in recent years thanks to a string of excellent products at extremely competitive price points — the company’s deal with T-Mobile isn’t set in stone, and likely won’t be until units actually begin appearing in brick-and-mortar stores this fall.
That brings us to another aspect to consider, which is that a carrier partnership essentially flies in the face of OnePlus’ entire ethos and business model. Lau and Pei have long attributed the direct-sales, online-only strategy as the primary way the company is able to offer its flagship-quality handsets for so cheap.
If we take that taking point at face value, it’s unclear how the company will be able to maintain its budget proposition. OnePlus’ products have already steadily risen in price since the company’s very first foray, the OnePlus One, launched at $299 four years ago. Contrast that to its most recent device, the OnePlus 6, which starts at $529.
Will the OnePlus 6T bring a sizable price hike, or something more consistent with OnePlus’ previous incremental bumps? Only time will tell. And as for the device itself, the rumor mill has been pretty hush on the 6T thus far, though we were already quite certain it was arriving ahead of the holiday season anyway. OnePlus’ “T” revisions typically offer slight tweaks to the main generational upgrades released earlier in the year, so perhaps we’ll see minor tweaks to the OnePlus 6’s design or, more specifically, its controversial notch.
We reached out to OnePlus regarding the news, and the company had no statement to offer at this time.