It looks like OnePlus is finally ready to join the big leagues in the U.S.
The darling smartphone startup will reportedly launch its next smartphone, tentatively dubbed the “OnePlus 6T,” with T-Mobile as its exclusive U.S. carrier partner in October, according to CNET.
The partnership would be OnePlus’ first carrier deal in the U.S. and a major step towards gaining a more serious foothold in the competitive American mobile market.
OnePlus will reportedly optimize its next smartphone for T-Mobile’s 600 MHz Extended Range LTE spectrum, which promises to offer more reliable and faster data coverage.
Inking a deal with T-Mobile shouldn’t be overlooked. Though OnePlus seems to have had no problems selling its phones directly to customers as unlocked devices that work on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile, carrier partnerships have eluded it.
In the U.S., securing a carrier is crucial to gaining marketshare. As much as 90 percent of smartphones sold in the U.S. are purchased through carrier channels.
Partnering up with T-Mobile would not only give the company more channels (both online and retail) to sell its phones, but it’d also open the door for competing carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon to also want to sell OnePlus phones if customers demand it. Furthermore, it’d also help boost the OnePlus brand with Americans who are unfamiliar with it.
To date, one of the only weaknesses for OnePlus phones is that they only operate on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and not on CDMA-based networks like Verizon and Sprint in the U.S.
However, if the response to OnePlus on T-Mobile is unignorable, CDMA carriers will have to at least consider working with the phone startup to get their devices certified for their networks just to remain competitive.
The partnership sounds like a good sign of things to come for OnePlus, but as CNET notes, the deal could still fall apart. OnePlus still needs to get the necessary network certification for its phone and until it does, it’s not a done deal.
Recent history has not been kind to Chinese phone makers. As Huawei learned earlier this year when AT&T pulled out of carrier deal, the rug can be pulled out from under at the last minute.