OnePlus announced its newest smartphone today, the OnePlus 6T. And the company has announced that the OnePlus 6T is going to be available from T-Mobile, as well as being available in over 5,600 stores nationwide. This marks OnePlus' first carrier partner, and it's actually a really big deal for OnePlus and T-Mobile. For OnePlus, it means that it is going to be open to even more users – including those that would rather pay monthly for the phone, rather than all at once – as well as having it available in physical stores for users to check out.
The OnePlus 6T does actually have a few differences from the OnePlus 6 that was announced earlier this year. The biggest, on the design front, is the new notch. Instead of a long notch along the top, OnePlus has a "water-droplet" notch, that we've seen on some of OPPO's recent smartphones. The notch is pretty small, and effectively only houses the front-facing camera. It also no longer has a fingerprint sensor on the back, instead it is below the display. So you have an in-display fingerprint sensor, making it the first smartphone available in the US with an in-display fingerprint sensor. The backside houses two cameras and an LED flash, and that's it. Internally, the specs you would expect from OnePlus are also here. That includes a Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. The battery is still rated at 3700mAh capacity, and with that AMOLED display, the battery should last all day long. The OnePlus 6T also comes with Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box, the latest in a handful of smartphones to launch with Android 9 Pie. And of course, Oxygen OS will be on top.
Background: Choosing T-Mobile to carry the OnePlus 6T is not that much of a surprise. For one, it was leaked quite extensively to be available on T-Mobile. But secondly, OnePlus smartphones have always worked on AT&T and T-Mobile, on top of that, T-Mobile has been a big supporter of unlocked phones in the past, and a big supporter of OnePlus even though it didn't officially sell the device. T-Mobile, while it is not the largest carrier in the US, it is a big deal for OnePlus, as it is able to get the device into carrier stores without having to get it certified to work on CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint. And carrier certification is not cheap, it costs (literally) millions of dollars to get certification for a smartphone, and if it fails, you have to pay for certification again. That's likely a big reason why OnePlus smartphones haven't worked on Verizon and Sprint in the past, but with AT&T and T-Mobile, they are both GSM carriers so no certification is needed.
OnePlus is a very new company, it's not even five years old yet. But it has been growing at a pretty astonishing rate. Part of this is because it does have BBK Electronics behind it, which is the parent company of OPPO and vivo – two of the largest smartphone makers in the world. But it is also because OnePlus is catering towards smartphone geeks, offering high-end hardware and software, at a low price. It is also offering a nearly stock Android experience in Oxygen OS, which is something that people love these days. Instead of having a bloated skin on top of Google's Android OS, there's a few features included that don't really make the device slower, or add unwanted features. The OnePlus 6 was priced at $529, which is pretty insane for what you're getting here. Especially compared to devices like the Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS starting at $999 for essentially the same specs. This is why OnePlus has garnered so much attention.
Impact: For T-Mobile, this is an exclusive, while the OnePlus 6T will work on other carriers, it will not be sold at other carriers. It's a similar circumstance to what Google has done with the Pixel 3 – where it is exclusive to Verizon, but still works on all four US carriers. Being the only place in the US where customers can actually stop in and see what the OnePlus 6T looks like and how it works, is a pretty big deal. Many consumers, especially in the US, still want to actually see the phone they are buying, before spending money on it. On top of that, by being offered at T-Mobile, it means that customers will have another way to purchase the device. Instead of just paying for it at retail price right now, they can spread the payments out over 24 months with T-Mobile's Equipment Installment Plan, which is also pretty important, and a good way to move more devices as well.
Beginning this Thursday, November 1, at 9AM EST you will be able to purchase the OnePlus 6T from T-Mobile (as well as OnePlus' website). It will be available in-store as well as on their website. It's going to start at $549 for the 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage model. T-Mobile is also offering up to $300 off of the OnePlus 6T if you trade-in an applicable device. That makes this a really great option for those that do want to pick up the OnePlus 6T, and all of the previous OnePlus devices are eligible for trade-in. This is something that OnePlus says its fans have been asking for, for many years now. A way to trade-in their device for the new one and get a discount on the new device, as well as getting it on an installment plan. It will be around $23 per month on T-Mobile's EIP plan, which is pretty inexpensive. It's currently unclear right now whether T-Mobile will offer the 8GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB models in addition to the entry level 6GB/128GB. The other two options are $579 and $629 respectively. It wouldn't be surprising to see T-Mobile only offer the base-model in stores, seeing as they also need to offer the different colors, which are a lot of different SKUs to keep track of. This is why a lot of carriers do not offer more than one configuration of different phones, or offer more than a couple different colors.