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We talk with OnePlus about T-Mobile, the new TV, and the invite system
Although OnePlus isn’t launching any new products at CES 2019, the company still has a presence at the trade show. Eric Zarshenas is OnePlus’ communications manager for the North America region, and he sat down with Android Authority at CES to talk about the company’s 2019 plans.
Most OnePlus projects are shrouded in mystery and the company often declines to comment on its upcoming plans. As such, Zarshenas didn’t give us any major revelations about what 2019 will bring for OnePlus. However, he did dish out some interesting info related to the upcoming 5G phone, its partnership with T-Mobile, and the upcoming mysterious OnePlus television.
OnePlus 5G phone
As far as the OnePlus 5G phone goes, Zarshenas discussed how excited the team is to be part of the first wave of 5G-powered smartphones. Although it’s anyone’s guess which company will get to claim the crown of being the first to launch a 5G-capable smartphone, it’s relatively certain that OnePlus will be part of the first wave with its 5G offering.
Zarshenas admitted that the smartphone will be quite expensive, at least when compared to the cost of its most recent OnePlus 6T. He pointed to the upgraded antennas and larger power consumption as part of the reasoning for the increase in cost. However, we already know that the phone will be quite pricey, as Pete Lau said as much at the recent Qualcomm event in Hawaii.
One of the biggest pieces of news from 2018 was the announcement of OnePlus’ partnership with T-Mobile. This is the first time a United States carrier has worked with the Chinese brand. We asked Zarshenas — now that the OnePlus 6T is in U.S. stores and selling quite well — if the company planned on bringing other products to T-Mobile stores, such as its line of USB Type-C and wireless headphones.
“I don’t want to say no, but not at this time,” he said. “Right now we’re just focused on getting the [OnePlus 6T] out there.”
The OnePlus TV
One of the more surprising announcements from 2018 was the revelation that OnePlus will launch a television this year. Since that release of info, however, the company hasn’t said much at all about the so-called OnePlus TV. As expected, Zarshenas was unable to give any concrete info about the TV. He did have this to say when we asked him about what it’s been like having a team that primarily makes smartphones begin to work on a television product:
“We had to expand our team for that, for sure. When we entered the smartphone market five years ago, the industry was growing more then, and coming in as a new player was hard. We were able to work competitively and achieved some great success, and that same kind of dedication we gave to our phones is what we want to do within the TV space.”
The invite system
Since we were discussing what it was like for OnePlus to come up in the smartphone industry, that brought up a memory: the invite system. The original OnePlus One and even the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X couldn’t be purchased outright — you needed an invite code before you could buy. That begets the question: is the invite system gone for good, or is it going to come back at some point in the future, possibly for the TV or even the OnePlus 5G phone?
Zarshenas declined to answer in relation to the TV, but did categorically say that the invite system would not come back for OnePlus smartphones. So it seems that the 5G phone won’t be blocked behind an invite code, but the TV is still up in the air.
With a 5G phone, the follow-up to the OnePlus 6T, a television, and possibly other products landing in 2019 from the company, it’s clear that this year is going to be one the biggest ever for OnePlus. So far, the company has taken the slow-and-steady approach to growth — this year will be a big test for whether or not OnePlus can keep its winning streak while juggling multiple products in different categories.