While the world is highly anticipating the arrival of a 5G smartphone, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has now revealed that its first 5G phone will not be in line with the price tag of the OnePlus 6T that is considered among the more affordable flagship models. The Shenzhen-based company at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit 2018 earlier this week claimed that it will be the first to release a commercial 5G smartphone that will work with carrier network EE in the UK in 2019. Lau during his keynote at the convention also highlighted that its next flagship will be "one of the first" to feature the Snapdragon 855 SoC.
In an interview with The Verge, CEO Pete Lau revealed that the first 5G phone from OnePlus is likely to cost $200 to $300 (roughly Rs. 14,100 to Rs. 21,200) more than its 4G counterpart. The OnePlus 6T, the existing flagship by the company, notably comes with a starting price of Rs. 37,999 ($549 in the US).
Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon during a separate roundtable with the media reportedly claimed that high price isn't likely to be the case for all 5G phones, though some OEMs could "try to gain share and use price as one of those tools." In response to Lau's comment on the price of the OnePlus 5G phone, the executive told The Verge that some people could be way more aggressive on the pricing part.
Lau's comments would put the price of the OnePlus 5G phone around the $750 (roughly Rs. 53,000) to $850 (Rs. 60,000) mark. We certainly need to wait for other key contenders, including Samsung, that are set to bring their 5G smartphone models in the near future.
Motorola is also working on a 5G Mod that will add the next-generation network support to existing Moto smartphones with support for Moto Mods. The Lenovo-owned company during the launch of the Moto Z3 back in August announced its partnership with Verizon to bring the 5G Mod to the market. However, it is yet to reveal any concrete schedule and price details around the development.
Lau in his interview said that OnePlus was preparing its 5G phone regardless of the price because its customers demanded it.
"5G is an important trend with its own tremendous challenges... we're working to understand the technology as quickly as possible," he said, as quoted by The Verge. He also revealed that the company is working on both the new 5G phone as well as the existing 4G phones simultaneously.
One of the initial challenges for OEMs building 5G phones is to offer the new network support on different frequencies. OnePlus is currently targeting just one type of 5G network that is based on "sub-6" spectrum used by EE. However, the company might need to add support for the millimetre wave to bring the 5G phone to the US. India is also currently showing some interest towards some millimetre wave bands. But the Indian government is yet to bring guidelines for 5G spectrum in the country.
Lau said that there are challenges in bringing millimetre wave deployment and fitting multiple antennas in a compact size. "On the product level, it's much more complex than 4G, so a significantly higher level of challenge, especially millimetre wave," he said during the interview. "It appears impossible to make a nice-looking flagship device, for now."
It is worth noting here that while OnePlus' initial focus with its 5G phone is towards the UK market, the company already has the US on its radar. The company recently tied up with T-Mobile to bring a McLaren-branded OnePlus 6T in the country. The OnePlus 6T also debuted as the first OnePlus device to be compatible with the Verizon network and emerged as the first OnePlus model to be available directly through the US carrier. The company previously offered support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
During the launch of the OnePlus 6T in late October, Lau revealed that the first 5G phone by OnePlus will come in the first half of 2019. The company already partnered with Qualcomm to build its 5G phone.