Why don't we know the US carrier for the 5G OnePlus 7? There isn't one yet

Yesterday OnePlus confirmed it would be the first company to release a 5G phone in Europe, but we've yet to hear how the company plans to release a 5G handset in the US.

TechRadar exclusively asked Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, why the company had only announced its partner for Europe. Lau confirmed it's because there isn't one set in stone yet for the US.

"We don't have a set plan in place, and it's something that's very much determined by carrier network and carrier status," said Lau.

"5G for us is a very important strategic direction and it's something we feel we can do a lot with in this space, so we will be discussing this as a strategy with more [US] carriers to see what can be realized."  

Unclear right now

So far we only know the company will be launching its 5G handset with EE in the UK.

Lau also confirmed the company plans to release two variants of its next phone, with one that has 5G and one that is 4G. He also confirmed the 5G variant of the phone is set to cost $200 to $300 more than previous OnePlus handsets. That would raise the 5G OnePlus handset price from $549 to between $749 and $849.

One thing Lau didn't confirm is the name of the 5G phone, although we do expect it to be called the OnePlus 7 and launch early next year with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset inside.

Why US carrier support is even more important

OnePlus phones in the US have traditionally launched unlocked and at full price. But for the OnePlus 6T, the company went with the more typical route by launching with a carrier: T-Mobile. It sold the phone through a monthly plan with the carrier, though it was still available unlocked through official OnePlus channels. 

The thing is, American consumers often buy expensive flagship phones through a contract with their carrier. They pay off their device over the course of two years. If the OnePlus 7 is in fact up to $300 more and taking advantage of carrier-dependent 5G speeds, partnering with a US network is going to be even more important in 2019.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.