Will You Be Able To Afford A 5G Smartphone? OnePlus CEO Has Doubts


OnePlus has been one of those companies that went from being relatively unheard of to battling with the best of them in the smartphone industry. Their flagship OnePlus 6T has been reviewed as having a balanced set of features for the perfect price. Now the company is setting their sights on another ambitious goal: 5G.

5G Smartphone OnePlus
As the caption says, 5G will be bigger than 4G, but it will also be more expensive (Image Credits: XDA Developers)

At the recently held Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit, the hot topic, of course, was 5G. Now the obstacle to 5G has been that there were no chips that could support the new network. This was overcome with the announcement of the Snapdragon 855. The latest flagship Qualcomm processor will make its way to almost all of 2019’s new flagship smartphones including OnePlus’s yet-to-be-named flagship device. But there’s a catch.

5G phones are not going to be cheap

According to Pete Lau – CEO of OnePlus, the next flagship of OnePlus that has 5G will cost around $200 to $300 more. Why? Because of the technology involved. For example, a particularly tough challenge for OnePlus would be to build a 5G smartphone for multiple cellular carries that work on different frequencies. According to Pete, the process would be considerably more difficult than switching from one 4G carrier to another 4G carrier.

5G Smartphone OnePlus
Building a smartphone for multiple cellular carries that work on different frequencies for 5G is going to be particularly challenging (Image Credits: GSMA)

For now, OnePlus is only targeting the sub-6 spectrum for 5G used by EE which is a British mobile operator. As such, the flagship OnePlus 5G smartphone would launch first in Europe. “We’re confident we’ll be the first 5G phone in Europe,” Pete added.

What about existing 4G OnePlus devices?

According to Pete, because 5G smartphones are going to be a separate lineup of phones, support for existing 4G enabled smartphones will continue to coexist. This is because 5G won’t be available worldwide by next year.

The 5G device by OnePlus might also forgo some of its looks for functionality. “On the product level, it’s much more complex than 4G, so a significantly higher level of challenge, especially millimeter wave,” added Pete. The millimeter wave occupies the frequency spectrum from 30GNz to 300GHz.

OnePlus 5G Smartphone
4G smartphones will continue to exist alongside the upcoming 5G smartphones (Image Credits: Android Central)

The challenge here is to fit multiple antennas into the device. For example, Motorola had to place their 5G Moto Mod’s four antennas in various different orientations so that the user could hold the device from any number of angles without blocking the signal.

Regardless of the price of the phone, OnePlus is determined to launch a 5G phone for customers. According to Pete, it’s vital to get the device out as quickly as possible so that the engineers at OnePlus can fine tune all the details with 5G which would benefit future 5G smartphones.

Is 5G a viable option for Sri Lanka?

Well, that is quite a good question. For starters, Sri Lanka’s low population density means that there are certain areas with no signal coverage whatsoever for 4G access. 5G networks are also not likely to be cheap. With carriers in the US and Europe spending billions of dollars upgrading their network infrastructures, we can expect the same to happen in Sri Lanka.

5G Smartphone OnePlus
Setting up 5G infrastructure in Sri Lanka is not going to be cheap at all. But is it worth it? (Image Credits: Construction Review Online)

Even if telecom operators did go and spend trillions of rupees on setting up 5G infrastructure, the time taken to regain that would be enormous. Nonetheless, operators like Dialog and Mobitel have already begun investing in the technology. Additionally, Dialog has announced that they’ll be initially focusing on providing 5G connections for homes before mobile connections.

Right now, 5G networks are expected to be operational towards the end of 2019. Yet, the question as to when exactly we’d see affordable 5G devices is an important one. Nonetheless, history has shown us that this is only a matter of time. So how do you feel about 5G in Sri Lanka? Let us know in the comments below.



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