Conspicuously absent from last week’s OnePlus 7T Pro announcement was any mention of a new 5G device from OnePlus. The company announced two versions of the 7T Pro (including a new McLaren Edition of the device) as well as European pricing and release information for the 7T, but all three of these phones were 4G LTE only, with no sign of a 5G follow-up to the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G that the company released earlier this year.
It was an odd omission, especially since OnePlus was so eager to release a 5G device so early in the technology’s lifecycle. In October 2018, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau talked about wanting OnePlus to release the first 5G device in Europe, and the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G was subsequently one of the first 5G devices to launch in the UK alongside the Samsung S10 5G. However, while Samsung has gone on two announce two more 5G devices — the Galaxy Note 10 5G and midrange A90 5G — OnePlus doesn’t seem as interested in a follow-up, despite rumors that the company was going to announce a 5G McLaren Edition of the new phone.
Waiting for the time to be right
Speaking to a small group of publications, including The Verge, at the OnePlus 7T Pro’s announcement event in London last week, Lau suggested (via a translator) that the company simply hasn’t seen enough of an opportunity to launch a second 5G device. “It’s not related to a Pro series or T-series or another device that certainly must have 5G,” the CEO said. “It’s more looking at what are the circumstances and what’s a suitable opportunity to build a 5G device.”
OnePlus also undoubtedly benefited from being one of the first companies to have a device ready for the launch of 5G in markets, including the UK, which was primed to benefit from any halo effect that the launch of the network may have had. Now that three of the UK’s four operators have launched their 5G networks, that same halo effect is unlikely to apply again for a second device.
In contrast to the lack of any 5G announcements last week, one of the 7 Pro’s other flagship features, its 90Hz screen, has not only returned for the 7T Pro, but it’s actually trickled down the OnePlus lineup into the OnePlus 7T, the lower-priced sibling to the Pro.
Lau said that the focus of the 7 Pro was on “pushing the boundaries” of tech. “If the tech is received well,” he said, “our intention has been to bring it to the wider series, so to the future series of devices.” The OnePlus 7 Pro’s 90Hz screen, which we called the “star of the show” in our review, made the cut, but its 5G variant did not.
Although Lau admitted that 5G is likely to be a key flagship trend for next year, he refused to be drawn on whether we’d see 5G included in the standard version of the OnePlus 8. The reason, he said, was because, at this point, it’s difficult to know whether 5G networks will exist in enough countries to make including 5G on a flagship device worthwhile. In India, which is a key territory for OnePlus, 5G might not be available next year, Lau explained.
OnePlus was successful in its attempts to be among the first companies to release a 5G phone, but the lack of a follow-up device at last week’s event showed that it’s being much more cautious about its second. After all, you only get to benefit from the excitement of releasing your first 5G device once.