Chinese vendor OnePlus has been talking a lot about its upcoming 5G phone. The company revealed at the Snapdragon Tech Summit that the OnePlus 5G phone would run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset with the X50 modem. We have also learned that the 5G handset will not be part of the current lineup, meaning it will be different from the OnePlus 6T successor OnePlus 7. It’s unclear what the new 5G lineup would be called. What’s more, OnePlus chief executive Pete Lau has indicated that the 5G device would hit the store shelves by the end of May 2019.
This is what the OnePlus 5G phone could look like
Despite revealing tons of details, OnePlus has so far managed to keep the 5G phone’s design a secret. Of course, we have heard that it would have triple cameras and thinner bezels, but that’s about all. Now for the first time, a reliable tipster named Ishan Agarwal has offered us a glimpse of the OnePlus 5G phone. Agarwal shared a picture from an internal OnePlus meeting, with chief executive Pete Lau attending.
EXCLUSIVE! Here's your first look at an upcoming OnePlus Device I don't know much about. This image shows the device in prototype/designing stage and it is not final but this is probably how the device may end up looking. That's Pete (CEO of OP) in the img and the device itself. pic.twitter.com/Yau9EsgSDy
— Ishan Agarwal (@IshanAgarwal24) December 19, 2018
It’s unclear who clicked the picture, but it would be pretty easy for OnePlus to find out because only a limited number of people were present in the meeting. The employee risks getting fired. It’s also possible that the picture was intentionally leaked by the company.
Anyway, the leaked image shows Pete Lau checking out the back of a phone. There is no way to tell whether it’s the 5G phone or OnePlus 7, which is expected to launch sometime in June 2019. We expect it to be the 5G device as it should be far along in the development process considering it would launch before OnePlus 7.
The phone Pete Lau is holding has a huge circular camera enclosure on the back. The rear camera island will remind you of the Motorola smartphones. The phone on the slide also has a circular enclosure. The handset in Lau’s hand is white in color while the one on the slide and another prototype on the table is in red color. The front panel of the device is not clearly visible.
Though OnePlus wants to make the 5G handset as sleek as its existing flagship devices, industry experts have said the early 5G phones could be bulkier. The first generation of 5G phones will have to make some design compromises to accommodate the 5G components. Tipster Ishan said the devices shown in the image are still in prototype/designing stage. The finished version of the device could look different.
You’ll also notice that there is no rear mounted fingerprint sensor on the device. Just like OnePlus 6T, it could feature an in-display fingerprint reader to let users unlock the phone. All the 2019 OnePlus phones are expected to have a faster and better in-display fingerprint sensor than the one on OnePlus 6T.
OnePlus hasn’t yet figured out how to implement the faster mmWave 5G technology in its phones. So, the first OnePlus 5G phone will have the “sub-6GHz band”. In the US, T-Mobile and Sprint use the same sub-6GHz network. But it’s too early to say whether the device will find its way to the US market. OnePlus has announced that it has partnered with EE to bring its 5G device to Europe. EE uses the same sub-6GHz spectrum. The carrier plans to expand its 5G network to 16 cities in the UK in 2019.
How much will it cost?
The 5G handset will be more expensive than the OnePlus 6T. Pete Lau told The Verge in an interview that it would be $200 to $300 more expensive than the current flagship because of the 5G components. Lau added that he was aiming to keep the price below $1,000. To justify the $200-$300 price jump, OnePlus could add other unique features as well to the phone.
Considering the current OnePlus 6T starts at $549, we expect the OnePlus 5G phone to cost between $750 and $1,000. It should still be more reasonably priced than 5G handsets from Samsung and other vendors. Pete Lau said he was fully aware that the 5G technology won’t “equate to huge sales” in 2019, but the scenario could be entirely different in 2020 as the adoption goes up.
Apple won’t be able to launch 5G iPhones until 2020. It will likely use Intel’s 5G modem rather than Qualcomm’s. Intel is running behind Qualcomm in the development of 5G technology. Samsung is preparing to launch its own 5G phone early next year. The Korean company has already joined hands with AT&T and Verizon to sell its 5G phones in the US. Samsung or its carrier partners haven’t revealed how much the device would cost.