No-show OnePlus 8 Lite allegedly still on the way

OnePlus 8

There's another new OnePlus phone on the way – in addition to the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro – but it's reportedly been delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The cheaper OnePlus 8 Lite was heavily rumored as a lower-spec version of the flagships at an affordable price. A previous rumor suggested the 8 Lite would actually be called the 'OnePlus Z' and would be debuting later in the year.

The latest information came in a tweet by noted leaker @OnLeaks: when asked why that ‘third phone’ hadn’t shown up at the OnePlus 8 line reveal event, the leaker wrote that its reveal been postponed due to 'Coronavirus situation.’ 

OnePlus declined to comment as part of its policy not to comment on rumors.

Presumably, by ‘Coronavirus situation,’ @OnLeaks is implying how much the viral outbreak has disrupted production in China, which has raised concerns over the release of phones and devices slated to come out later this year. While the iPhone 12 and PS5 and Xbox Series X are supposedly safe, it’s unclear if that could change for either, or if other device releases could be affected. 

Further speculation – take it with salt

The leak could also be suggesting that the market wouldn’t support a OnePlus 8 Lite, if that is indeed the version that nearly came out. February’s slumping phone sales were likely caused by outbreak-related uncertainty, as some consumers tightened their belts and avoided big purchases in light of reduced incomes or layoffs. Launching three phones at once may have been overkill.

Or, as we learned with the iPhone XR, a cheaper model might have cannibalized sales of the pricier OnePlus phones. We don’t know much about the OnePlus 8 Lite, but given the standard OnePlus 8 price was $200 / £200 / around AU$400 cheaper than the OnePlus 8 Pro, it’s possible that the 8 Lite would have been proportionally cheaper than the standard OnePlus 8 – and siphoned consumer spending away from the higher-end versions.

That’s all speculation, of course, so we’ll wait until we hear more about the OnePlus 8 Lite to make more educated guesses.

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David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.