OnePlus, which has carved out a niche in the smartphone market by launching devices with top-of-the-line specifications but with affordable price tags, may soon break into the mainstream.
The OnePlus 5T was one of the best smartphones of 2017, and it appears that the Chinese smartphone manufacturer will bank on that success to expand its reach across the world.
OnePlus May Soon Be Sold Through US Carriers
In an interview with CNET, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said that the smartphone manufacturer will start talks with U.S. carriers within the year.
"If the right opportunity and right timing come along, we'll be very happy to experiment," Lau said.
A partnership with a carrier will provide OnePlus with a distribution partner that may make its smartphones more popular in the United States. OnePlus has made its name among Android enthusiasts despite its products being only available through its website. If OnePlus smartphones will be distributed through a carrier, the brand has the potential for massive sales because of its bang-for-the-buck products.
OnePlus will face challenges in forging a partnership with a U.S. carrier, though. The company will need to prepare its production line to keep up with what would surely be an increase in demand, and gauge the possibility of a price hike, as it is cheaper to sell directly to customers. Lastly, OnePlus smartphones sold through carriers may come with preinstalled apps from the carrier, which goes against the philosophy of OnePlus to roll out devices with the most lightweight versions of Android.
Huawei recently tried to do the same thing, but the planned AT&T partnership did not push through. Huawei CEO Richard Yu even went off script at CES 2018 to slam U.S. carriers for refusing to distribute the company's smartphones.
Lau did not provide a specific time frame on when a partnership between OnePlus and a U.S. carrier could be formed. It remains to be seen whether an agreement could be struck before the launch of the next OnePlus smartphone.
OnePlus 6 Launch In Q2
The next OnePlus smartphone, widely expected to be named the OnePlus 6, will likely launch late in the second quarter, according to Lau. This time frame follows the company's regular schedule for device releases and in line with the arrival of the OnePlus 5 last year.
Lau did not provide a specific date, but the executive did confirm one thing about the upcoming smartphone: The OnePlus 6 will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the latest and most powerful processor from the chipmaker so far.