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OnePlus 3 heading to O2 UK stores from September 29

OnePlus is starting a new chapter. After beginning life as an online-only, invite-only company, OnePlus is now looking to the traditional sales channels it once derided as outdated.
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September 27, 2016
oneplus o2

OnePlus is starting a new chapter. After beginning life as an online-only, invite-only company, OnePlus is now looking to the traditional sales channels it once derided as outdated.

Starting this Thursday, OnePlus devices will be available in O2 stores in the United Kingdom as part of an exclusive partnership between the two companies.

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Specifically, the OnePlus 3 will be available through O2’s Refresh program, which lets customers upgrade to new devices at a reduced cost. The OnePlus 3 will start from £28 per month through Refresh, with no upfront costs, and customers will also be able to buy the device unlocked and contract-free.

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O2 will carry the OnePlus 3 both online and in its stores. OnePlus cited O2’s “unparalleled pedigree when it comes to exclusive launches” and the strength of the carrier’s Refresh initiative as the driving force between the partnership.

It’s not the first time OnePlus partners with carriers for traditional distribution deals. The OnePlus 3 has proven itself quite successful in Finland, and OnePlus obviously hopes for a similar performance in Britain.

Talking to The Verge, the company’s co-founder Carl Pei hinted that this could be the beginning of a new trend:

“Just doing online direct-to-consumer might not be the right perspective long term [and] if you have one exclusive partner, you can think more long-term about how to build a brand.”

OnePlus is looking at Scandinavian markets for its next carrier partnerships, Pei said.

This change of tune is a sign of maturity, but it can also be interpreted as a partial admission of defeat. In the first few years of its existence, OnePlus relied heavily on a lean, online-centric operation and word-of-mouth, rather than traditional marketing and distribution channels. But that model could only get it so far, and now OnePlus has to carve a place for itself in the highly-competitive traditional smartphone market.

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