The first OnePlus smartphone with 5G capabilities will also be the first device to use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip, the semiconductor company confirmed on Wednesday, during the second day of its Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018. The handset in question will run Android but won't be the OnePlus 7, which the Chinese device maker already confirmed earlier this year. Its SoC of choice will be the most premium version of the Snapdragon 855 whose base model comes with the Snapdragon X24, an LTE model that already debuted inside the Snapdragon 845. However, the variant used by the OnePlus-made device will utilize the Snapdragon X50, a newer wireless modem with 5G capabilities, the two companies confirmed.
Believe it or not, it's a timed UK exclusive
In a surprising turn of events, British carrier EE announced the 5G-enabled OnePlus phone will be a timed exclusive which will initially be offered only to its customers in the United Kingdom. The launch will happen at some point in 2019 and while neither EE nor OnePlus provided a more concrete release timeframe, the fact that the device in question will mark the first consumer-grade application of the Snapdragon 855 suggests a debut in the first quarter of the next year. The handset also likely won't be available throughout the UK seeing how EE will initially be launching its experimental 5G network in only 16 cities in 2019, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff. EE claims it's hence set to become the world's first carrier to bring 5G to its customers, though a number of network operators in South Korea and Japan still have a chance to beat it in that race.
OnePlus has been pursuing research and development in the 5G space since 2016, Chief Executive Officer Pete Lau revealed at today's Qualcomm event in Maui, Hawaii. The industry veteran framed the launch of the incoming device as a natural extension of the company's strategy to continue offering cutting-edge technologies to its consumers, many of whom are already tech adopters across a variety of segments. While there's still no information on whether the 5G-ready OnePlus smartphone will be launching outside of the UK, it's likely to be released stateside as well, especially now that the Chinese phone maker managed to score a major distribution partnership with T-Mobile and hence has a promising entry point into the world's largest flagship market.
OnePlus facing its busiest year yet
Today's announcement signals OnePlus is about to enter its busiest year yet – one wherein it will launch three major devices. The company has been doing two major product launches since 2015 when it followed up on the OnePlus 2 with the OnePlus X and is more recently debuting two Android flagships annually. With the incoming arrival of its first 5G handset, the firm is now apparently moving to three handsets per year, though that strategy is unlikely to be a long-term affair; by most accounts, the first OnePlus phablet with 5G capabilities won't be the start of an entirely new lineup and its main selling point will be absorbed by the manufacturer's main series in the near future.