OnePlus has shown off its prototype 5G phone at Mobile World Congress 2019 following months of speculation and years of development stretching back to 2016. It has already lined up partnerships with EE in the UK for the upcoming device.
Ahead of MWC there was a lot of talk that this new device would not be the OnePlus 7, which we expect to arrive sometime in May. This is because its inclusion of 5G-capable hardware will make it significantly more expensive than the current OnePlus 6T, and the company itself has claimed 5G phones could cost up to $200-$300 more.
In the past, OnePlus has always prided itself as being that company that could significantly undercut its rivals with top-spec phones - so-called flagship killers.
Now it's looking more likely that the message has been confused. The 5G phone will not be the OnePlus 7, but it could well be a variation on it in the same way the Galaxy S10 5G is a more expensive version of the standard Galaxy S10.
At MWC 2019 OnePlus said there would also be a 4G version of this phone with similar specifications, which adds weight to that theory. We suspect the standard OnePlus 7 will be fitted with the same Snapdragon 855 processor that has now been confirmed for the upcoming 5G phone, but without its X50 modem (non-5G phones will instead use the X24).
It wasn't possible to glean much else from the show, with the device being hidden behind glass. It appears to have a 21:9 display.
When is the OnePlus 5G phone coming out?
In an interview with CNET Pete Lau, OnePlus CEO, confirmed the 5G phone would arrive before the end of May 2019.
EE will be the launch partner in the UK, and will roll out 5G support to 16 UK cities (10% of its portfolio, serving 25% of its customers) in the second half of 2019, starting with Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
How much will the OnePlus 5G phone cost?
With the company not expecting to see huge sales in 2019 the 5G OnePlus will not be priced for profit. However, it will be significantly more expensive than the current OnePlus 6T because the components necessary for 5G cost more - up to $200-$300 more.
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau once again mentioned some details on the firms 5G phone in an interview with USA today, confirming its chipset to be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem, but has also publically stated that he’s intending to keep the phone ‘affordable’ which reportedly means under the £800 ($1000) mark.
While the OnePlus 6T starts at £499, we could be looking at a price closer to £699 for the 5G OnePlus phone. It’s also important to keep in mind that the tariff be more expensive on a 5G phone compared to 4G.
OnePlus 5G phone features and specifications
OnePlus has already confirmed that its 5G phone will be running the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, which is the successor to the 845 seen in the 6T and capable of taking on Apple's most recent A12 Bionic chips.
Not only does it support the faster connectivity standard, which is somewhere between 20- and 100 times faster than 5G in day-to-day use, but the processor is also 45% faster than the older chip in general processing, and 20% faster in graphics.
Lau told CNET that the first 5G phone from OnePlus will use the sub-6GHz spectrum, not the faster millimeter wave technology. Though slower, with peak downloads of 400- to 500Mbps (still significantly faster than 4G), this spectrum is more reliable and can travel longer distances.
A disadvantage of the faster 5G tech is that the extra components required place a heavy burden on the smartphone's design, adding weight and thickness, and OnePlus is keen not to have to compromise here. Instead, the company's 5G phone will look a lot like the OnePlus 6T, complete with a glass frame, waterdrop notch and in-display fingerprint sensor.
Ice Universe has claimed that "the next OnePlus phone" will come with fast UFS 3.0 storage, with the current 6T using UFS 2.1. It's at least twice as fast, and the Twitter leakster revealed a screenshot of a benchmark showing high sequential reads of 2279.8MB/s, sequential writes of 1801.1MB/s, random reads of 146.4Mb/s, 37240.3 IOPS and random writes of 137.5MB/s, 34962.27 IOPS. Whether he is referring to the OnePlus 5G phone, the OnePlus 7, or both, we will just have to wait and see.
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