Make no mistake, the mobile industry is on a collision course with 5G connectivity, though the impact will not truly be felt until wireless carriers at large upgrade large swaths of territories with the faster technology. In the meantime, smartphone makers are preparing for that day. Which company will be first? It might be OnePlus.
To be clear, the upcoming OnePlus 6T is not going to be a 5G-capable smartphone. That phone is essentially finished, assuming all of the leaks and rumors have been on point. It will arrive with the usual round of upgrades and high-end specs, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, improved cameras, and so forth. But it will be a 4G LTE smartphone.
Looking beyond the OnePlus 6T is where things get interesting. Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon recently stated there will be at least two flagship phones with 5G connectivity next year. A short while later, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei trotted on stage at the event and confirmed his company will be releasing a 5G phone in 2019.
As far as Pei is aware, OnePlus will be one of the first—and perhaps the first—company to release a flagship 5G handset. Furthermore, OnePlus has already conducted a 5G test at Qualcomm's headquarters, back in August of this year.
This could end up being a race between OnePlus and Oppo, in terms of being first. Oppo also conducted 5G wireless testing in August. The company used a modified R15 smartphone with a Snapdragon X50 5G modem inside, and like OnePlus, the company is confident it will have a 5G smartphone ready in 2019.
What this essentially means is that the consumer hardware will be in place starting next year. That will hopefully put some pressure on wireless carriers to accelerate their 5G roll outs, as both need to be in place for any of this to matter.