Ever since OnePlus revealed the OnePlus 3T in November 2016, the company has stuck to a reliable release schedule: a brand new smartphone launched in the Spring and then a “T” update model launched in the Fall. One would expect this year to be no different and we’ll see a OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro before the end of 2019.
However, things have changed for OnePlus. In fact, the very existence of the OnePlus 7 Pro is different for the company as it’s the first time we’ve seen a “Pro” model smartphone on the brand’s roster. Not only that, but we also have a minor third phone launched this year: the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, which is only available in select locations.
We also know that OnePlus is going to launch its first television this September, appropriately called the OnePlus TV. This is a brand new product category for the company and could be a big risk, considering how cutthroat the TV market is.
All of this leads up to the big question: should we even expect a OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro?
OnePlus 2019 strategy: What we know for certain
From 2016 to early 2019, there weren’t any product surprises from OnePlus. Other than the launch of its Bullets series of headphones, the company has stuck to two smartphones launches each year like clockwork — and that’s it.
Last year, with the launch of the OnePlus 6T, things got a little different. The biggest news surrounding the release of the 6T was the company’s new partnership with T-Mobile which brought OnePlus smartphones to U.S. carrier stores for the first time ever. This signaled a pretty big expansion for the company as the partnership would introduce the brand to millions of new potential customers.
Even before the launch of the 6T, we also heard about how the company planned to launch a TV at some point in 2019, yet another big move for OnePlus.
Up until 2019, OnePlus’ release strategy was simple and reliable. Now, things are getting much different.
In 2019, we’ve seen some significant changes in strategy from the brand. We saw the release of the OnePlus 7, which surprisingly didn’t land at all in the United States. We also saw the launch of the OnePlus 7 Pro — which felt more like the true follow-up to the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T — as well as the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, the first 5G-capable smartphone to land in the United Kingdom.
On top of all that, we also know for certain that some new things are coming. We know that the TV is coming, for one, but we also know the company will launch another 5G-capable smartphone this year, too. This will be a different 5G phone, i.e. not the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, and it will be available worldwide.
That means, by the end of 2019, we know we will have seen OnePlus launch the following products:
- OnePlus 7
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
- OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
- OnePlus TV
- New OnePlus 5G phone
That is a lot of stuff. Obviously, compared to huge companies such as Samsung, that’s a small roster, but for OnePlus, that’s a lot. It’s certainly a far cry from two smartphones and maybe some headphones as we’ve seen in prior years.
With all that on its plate, is there room for not one but two additional smartphones with the rumored OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro?
OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro: Rumors we’ve heard so far
The biggest rumor we have related to the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro comes from Max J., a.k.a. @Samsung_News on Twitter.
Max posits that there will be both a OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro. Furthermore, he claims that one or both phones could launch in India on September 26. Then, one or both phones could launch in the U.S. and the rest of the world on October 10 for an October 15 on-sale date.
We have no idea where Max is getting this information. However, he has had some accurate pre-release information in the past, so it’s certainly possible that he is right (even if other sources say he’s wrong).
There are a few notable issues with the idea that OnePlus will release “T” models on those dates, if at all. The most glaring issue is how early these alleged dates are. Last year, OnePlus revealed the OnePlus 6T on October 29 — a full month later than when Max says the 7T will launch. That certainly seems strange.
The second issue is that the OnePlus 7T should, in theory, be a nominal upgrade over the OnePlus 7. However, the OnePlus 7 is, in itself, a nominal upgrade over the OnePlus 6T. The devices even look nearly identical. Would OnePlus really release a third device that is only a nominal upgrade over its predecessor? An upgrade of an upgrade?
Rumors point to there being a OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro, but the ‘new’ OnePlus might not stick to its old ways.
Finally, there’s the matter of the new 5G phone and the OnePlus TV, both of which we know for absolute certain will launch this year. When will OnePlus launch these devices in that leaked timeline? It wouldn’t want to dilute the launch of the TV by pairing it with the smartphones, and it wouldn’t want to dilute the new 5G phone by pairing it with the TV. Would it do multiple releases?
I think we need to at least entertain the possibility that OnePlus has a very different plan in mind.
Upcoming OnePlus launches: What we expect to see
The existence of the OnePlus 7 — which is only available in select markets outside the United States — is the best hint we have for what OnePlus is going to do going forward. That device is heavily promoted in India and fully replaced the OnePlus 6T in specific markets (such as the U.K., for example).
Here in the U.S., though, the OnePlus 6T stands in for the OnePlus 7. This likely has to do with the company’s partnership with T-Mobile — it probably has a contractual obligation to sell the 6T for a certain amount of time, and adding both the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro to that would just confuse customers.
What we have here is a split with OnePlus offering different global markets different things. The U.S. is a premium market, so OnePlus is pushing the 7 Pro as its premium offering and not even bothering to bring in the vanilla OnePlus 7. India is a developing market so OnePlus is focusing mostly on the 7. In places like the U.K. where OnePlus already has a fairly large presence, it abandoned the 6T and replaced it with the 7 because that makes sense to do for that market.
In other words, OnePlus is no longer treating the whole world as it’s one market: it’s localizing its marketing.
OnePlus is a global brand now, and global brands need to design and market products in different ways in different parts of the world.
With all that in mind, it’s a fairly sure bet we won’t see the OnePlus 7T here in the United States. If that device launches at all, it will probably be exclusive to specific markets, at least one of which will be India.
Since the OnePlus 6T is still available in the United States close to a year after it landed, it also makes sense to assume we won’t see a OnePlus 7T Pro here in the U.S. either. OnePlus is still trying to gain its footing here as a viable competitor to the big boys such as Samsung and Apple, so introducing too many devices all at once would be a bad move, especially if the devices look pretty much the same (as we’ve seen before with “T” models).
Instead, here’s what we think OnePlus will actually do:
- Release a OnePlus 7T outside the U.S. in places like India. This device might be like a hybrid of the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro — different from the OnePlus 6T and OnePlus 7, but not quite as good as the OnePlus 7 Pro.
- Skip the OnePlus 7T Pro release entirely.
- Release the as-yet-unknown 5G smartphone globally as a new device — let’s say the OnePlus A 5G, or some other completely different line. This device could exist in tandem with the OnePlus 7 Pro as an even more premium phone.
- Release the TV at its own exclusive launch event so it does not compete with the new phones.
To be clear, this is all educated guessing on our part. We have no information to confirm or deny this is what the company will actually do.
If there’s one thing we have seen from OnePlus so far is that it likes to keep things simple and safe. It started out by only selling smartphones to people with invitations to help control supply and demand. Once comfortable with that, it offered a budget-tier device with the OnePlus X. Then it offered the OnePlus 3 with no invite code necessary. Then the OnePlus 3T, and so on — each move a calculated gradual step from the previous move.
OnePlus might be doing things a lot differently than it did when it began, but there’s no indication in its history that it will change things up drastically in a short period of time. That doesn’t seem very OnePlus. The best bet for what the company has planned for the rest of 2019 is whichever plan is the safest and that would mean the OnePlus 7T Pro just isn’t likely.