According to OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei in an AMA on the company website, we may not see the OnePlus 6T this coming year. In fact, the release windows may become longer in general for subsequent phones.
Pei mentioned that the company’s strategy was different than many phone manufacturers, and that they didn’t feel pressure to commit to a yearly release window. The decision to release a new phone for OnePlus is based off whether there’s enough new technology that upgrading from an older model to their newest flagship would be “worth it.” OnePlus has not yet decided whether it will follow up the OnePlus 6 with the OnePlus 6T in late 2018. This mentioned date gives us a little hint that the OnePlus 6 is already in development, and that we could see it early next year.
Perhaps contrary to this recent statement, the OnePlus 5T released today starting at $499, and was intended to be a revision and more refined user experience rather than a completely new phone. It’s interesting that OnePlus has dropped the regular release window, as previously their phones have had relatively short shelf lives. the production of the OnePlus 5 has already stopped due to its successor’s launch. If we’re not seeing a yearly release, that may mean that each new phone will be much more feature-rich and remain relevant a good while longer.
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Chinese companies have generally taken a different approach to smartphone development, and have yet to gain significant ground outside of China. By not sticking to a yearly release schedule, OnePlus ensures that each new phone has something significant or different to offer. In a smartphone scene where yearly releases are generally looking pretty similar (albeit with more power) it’s refreshing to see a company commit to providing something special with each release.
The OnePlus 5T’s release is no exception when it comes to “special”, and it does feature some significant changes — particularly in aesthetic — with a design centered around the new 18:9 display panel. The phone also features minimal bezels, which prompted the company to move the fingerprint scanner to the back of the device, while adding a face unlock to make accessing the phone more convenient. The dual-camera setup in the 5T also saw some major improvements, with a wide-angle lens that offers better performance in low-light situations.
There was apparently enough new technology to warrant a successor to the 5, but OnePlus is still on the fence when it comes to upgrading the 6. There always seems to be new features coming out, but the question is whether those features will be enough to warrant the upgrade. Foregoing the regular release schedule is definitely a risk as OnePlus tries to gain a foothold in the Western market, but perhaps something different in a sea of similar phones will lead to some unexpected success.