In short: OnePlus has now revealed that it is expanding its network of UK distributors in the leadup to the launch of its OnePlus 6T flagship in a bid to make the new handset the most widely available OnePlus device to-date. The launch is set to take place on October 30, with the company's partners set to start selling the smartphone on November 6 alongside OnePlus's own sales efforts on the official website. In total, OnePlus lists three service providers and two third-party retailers that will carry the new device. Those include EE, Vodafone, and O2. Meanwhile, third-party retailers John Lewis and Carphone Warehouse will be selling the OnePlus 6T as well.
Background: At least in part, the efforts to increase the number of distributors selling the OnePlus 6T might derive from the fact that this will be the first OnePlus mobile device to drop the use of a 3.5mm headphone jack. While there has been an ongoing trend among top-tier smartphone manufacturers removing a headphone port, that move has prompted a considerable amount of backlash for the company. That's a change that the company has since claimed that it needed to make in order to include a larger battery and an in-display fingerprint reader. What's more, most technology-savvy users – who arguably make up the bulk of the OnePlus fan base – have already moved on to wireless headphones, the company argued. One of those arguments doesn't seem to bear much weight, however, since many prominent devices that do include a headphone jack also include the new fingerprint scanning technology. In the wake of its decision, the company has moved to expand sales to more locations, retailers, and carriers at the global scale, including at least one US operator via its partnership with T-Mobile.
Impact: Setting aside speculation about the company's motivations for choosing to expand the availability of the OnePlus 6T, the announcement is also raising questions among members of OnePlus's user base. Primarily, those center around whether or not the devices will be sold unlocked or without carrier branding. The OEM has historically kept those kinds of device limitations and markings to a minimum and that's become at least one of its handsets' selling points over the years. Bearing in mind that any changes to that might negatively impact the brand's image, there is at least one benefit to consumers likely to stem from distributor partnerships. Namely, there's a good chance that the carriers will run promotional offers with the launch of the OnePlus flagship and buyers will almost certainly have the option of buying a device on-contract with payment plans instead of upfront at full cost.