OnePlus to make first 5G phone in Europe with EE, company claims

'5G is going to open up a lot of new ways people use their smartphone,' CEO and founder tells The Independent

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 05 December 2018 20:31 GMT
The OnePlus 6T Launch in 60 seconds

OnePlus is going to make the first 5G phone available in Europe, the company has said.

The decision could entirely change the way that phones work and will introduce a transformative technology to the UK, Pete Lau, OnePlus’s chief executive and founder, told The Independent.

The phone maker has teamed up with EE to make the handset available, aiming to have it ready for users in 2019. The two companies have signed a research and development partnership that will help deliver much faster and more reliable internet connections across the UK, they said.

5G technology has become one of the most discussed possibilities in technology, offering connections faster even than WiFi and potentially disrupting the way that the internet and industry works.

But the promise has been clouded by concerns about infrastructure and questions about when the technology required to make it work will arrive.

Now OnePlus has said it will be able to introduce those long-promised features next year, as a result of intense work to bring it to consumers.

“Since OnePlus started, only five years ago, we’ve been dedicated to bringing people the best possible experience – truly fast and smooth,” said Mr Lau. ”5G is a natural extension for us, and a very important one.

“Our users are passionate and want the best tech and the best software, with flexibility and versatility to do everything from graphically intensive gaming, through to capturing and editing super slow motion video, or multitasking for work. That makes life challenging for us.

“5G is going to open up a lot of new ways people use their smartphone – the increased speed combined with the increased capacity mean your smartphone can now truly be the centre of a connected experience, for everything from fitness to home automation.”

The announcement that OnePlus’s phone will be the first available in Europe comes despite the fact that other manufacturers – including giants like Samsung – have promised to bring their own devices to the network as soon as possible.

Asked whether he was concerned that rivals would beat OnePlus to market despite its claim to being the first, Mr Lau said that there are “obviously no guarantees” but that his company were best positioned to be ready with the cutting-edge technology first.

“We started working on 5G in 2016, and developed an R&D lab with Qualcomm in 2017,” he said. “OnePlus has always used Qualcomm 800 series chipsets as part of our flagship-only strategy, and this is part of the reason for the excellent relationship we have with one of the world’s leading chipset providers.

“No-one is better positioned than OnePlus to take the lead with 5G. We don’t really look at what others are doing in the industry, we’re focused on providing the best possible experience for our users, and we recognised early on that 5G would be a huge opportunity for revolution.”

Others, such as Apple, are rumoured to have sat out the decision until at least 2020, allowing other companies to take the first leap – and deal with the potential for the kinds of major infrastructure problems that have blighted similar rollouts in the past. Mr Lau said that OnePlus would work hard to ensure those problems didn’t hit this time around.

“OnePlus is strategic with how we choose our partners – we work with Qualcomm, the best in the world, and we’re also working with EE, who pioneered 4G in the UK,” he said. ”EE customers are early-adopters, they read and research before they make purchases and we’re confident they’ll have vast knowledge of 5G. Those early adopters know that, as with the launch of 4G, there won’t be 5G coverage everywhere at first but it’ll be a rapid rollout from networks.”

Proponents have regularly suggested that 5G could change the way that people use phones, allowing people to take advantage of instant and reliable connections to create new forms of experience. Mr Lau echoed those claims, suggesting they may be transformative in ways that the company has not even expected.

“When you look at the history of smartphones, they’re used in ways today which no-one had designed them for originally,” he said. ”5G will be the same – the possibilities will open up in front of us as people experiment with how to combine speed and capacity – everything from gaming through to work or fitness will change. We’re constantly doing research with users and partners to ensure we have a fast and smooth experience no-matter what.”

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