The Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 is currently underway in Hawaii, USA. The event has played host to the newest processor release from Qualcomm — namely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855; as well as to concrete information about the next step in the future of mobile network connectivity — 5G. The Snapdragon 855 is 5G-ready as it is compatible with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem, making 5G a much closer reality than what it was last year.
At the Tech Summit, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau had announced that OnePlus’s 2019 flagship will be the first flagship smartphone to feature the new Snapdragon 855 SoC. Previously, OnePlus also said that they are working on launching a 5G capable phone in 2019, but the Chinese OEM later clarified that the OnePlus 7 (if it is called that) will not be the first 5G phone from the OEM.
Mr. Lau now states that the company is working on both the new 5G phone and existing 4G phones in parallel, reiterating their previous statement. However, Mr. Lau also expects the new 5G phone to cost $200-$300 more.
“It’s hard to know because there’s a lot of specifics still to look at, but it’s likely in the neighborhood of $200-$300 more.”
OnePlus will be pursuing a 5G phone regardless of the price as Mr. Lau believes that his customers demand it, and that because it is important to get it out early so that engineers can start working through the nuances of 5G which will help them deliver future phones. 5G presents its own set of challenges, so it becomes imperative to understand the technology as soon as it is possible.
Mr. Lau also expects it will be even more difficult to take a phone from one carrier to another with 5G than what it was for 4G, and the company hasn’t yet seen a solution that would cover many different carriers around the world. OnePlus is currently focusing on the sub-6 spectrum in the 5G network, which although provides slower 5G speeds, but also offers a wider coverage area; as against the millimeter wave that AT&T and Verizon are focusing on in the US, which offers quicker speeds but lower coverage — thus requiring different phone designs that can incorporate multiple antennas. So for now, Mr. Lau believes that it would be impossible to make a nice looking flagship 5G device.
While 5G is definitely coming to our pockets in 2019, the question remains if the average consumer really will get attracted to the expectedly-pricey technology. First generation 5G products are unlikely to be picked up by the average consumer, and we will have to wait for the technology to mature over the years before we can really start recommending 5G phones to everyone.
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