Why there won’t be a OnePlus 5T

Last year OnePlus surprised everyone with the slightly updated OnePlus 3T only months after launching the OnePlus 3. Since then one could assume that the Chinese startup will release two smartphones every year, and that the OnePlus 5T is already at the starting blocks. But here’s why that’s just nonsense.

It actually makes sense for a smartphone manufacturer to release top smartphones twice a year. Samsung, LG and Huawei follow this rhythm. In the first quarter of 2017, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S8, LG the G6 and Huawei the P10. And by the end of the year, all three manufacturers will release their ‘Phablets’ – the Galaxy Note 8, the V30 and the Mate 10 respectively. This will bridge the time until the Mobile World Congress, when the next generation of these devices will need to be presented.

But not all manufacturers can adopt this ‘double hit’ product strategy. Ultimately, this means developing two products almost in parallel, and releasing the second device with a few software updates and patches. This isn’t possible in the case of OnePlus, even if they have tried this before. The OnePlus X was an attempt to place a middle range smartphone on the market, and last year the company released the OnePlus 3T a few months later as an overhauled version of this top model.

AndroidPIT OnePlus3 soft gold vs gray silver 6643
No obvious difference. Which is the OnePlus 3 and which is the 3T? / © AndroidPIT

While the OnePlus X was a conscious attempt to open a new category of smartphones, we can understand the OnePlus 3T to be an emergency version requiring little effort from OnePlus. They only needed to swap out the main processor. There is also the persistent rumor that the Snapdragon 820 can be converted to Snapdragon 821 using software, because there are no modifications to the chip design.

The improvements from the OnePlus 3 to the 3T were slight and accomplished with minimal effort. But the expectations around the OnePlus 5T would not be so easy to satisfy. An 18:9 display – the same seen on a Galaxy S8 or LG G6 – means designing new housing. The screen takes up almost the entire front side of the phone. It’s not just about integrating a new display – the electronics must also be redesigned. The fingerprint sensor must be relocated, and the front camera, proximity sensor and loud speaker definitely need to be rearranged. This is just too much work, and that’s why this will be implemented first in the OnePlus 6.

OnePlus 5T Render Gizmo waifu2x photo noise1 scale tta 12
The smartphone here isn’t a OnePlus 5T, but probably an Oppo F5 / © Gizmochina

This was circulated as an exclusive story, complete with a supposed picture of the OnePlus 5T. I think we can safely debunk this as fake. It is true that Oppo – strongly associated with OnePlus – is apparently working on a six inch large smartphone with 18:9 display. But it is unthinkable that the OnePlus will take the F5 and launch it as the OnePlus 5T. Why? Carl Pei told us clearly in a conversation that they will concentrate on one smartphone per year, ensuring that the software of this smartphone is optimized. Put simply, the OnePlus 5 is the flagship for 2017. For 2018 there’ll be the OnePlus 6. This will very likely be with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and optimized Oxygen OS.

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