Chinese Apple Rival OnePlus Lands Exclusive T-Mobile Deal in the U.S.

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OnePlus will partner with T-Mobile for a U.S. release of its new 6T flagship smartphone this year, according to a new report.

The Uncarrier will serve as the exclusive partner for the OnePlus flagship when it launches this October, people familiar with the matter told CNET. Reportedly, the partnership would include a specific version of the OnePlus 6T that’s been “optimized for T-Mobile’s network.”

But more than that, a U.S. carrier partner backing one of their releases would be a first for the Chinese manufacturer.

OnePlus, like other China-based OEMs, have struggled to become household names in the U.S. — but a launch in conjunction with a Big 4 carrier could help OnePlus reach mainstream awareness.

For those not on T-Mobile, there’ll still be an opportunity to snag a OnePlus smartphone. The Chinese firm will still release its standard global unlocked version for use with other carriers.

As CNET points out, the move underscores the progress that OnePlus has achieved on its own, however.

The company has achieved a cult following across the globe among smartphone-savvy consumers by offering premium flagship-tier smartphones at affordable price points. (The OnePlus 6T flagship is rumored to start at $550.)

That’s a stark contrast to the seemingly ever-increasing prices of market juggernauts like Apple and Samsung. And it allowed OnePlus to sneak in where other lower-cost OEMs have declined.

It also makes OnePlus an outlier among Chinese firms. Some of the company’s contemporaries, like Huawei and ZTE, have failed to gain any sort of foothold in the U.S.

That’s partly because of government concern about China-made devices being used for espionage. Earlier this year, the heads of the FBI, NSA and CIA cautioned Americans away from buying ZTE or Huawei smartphones.

Those agencies did not mention OnePlus by name, which means that the company could gain more ground in the U.S. than its peers have.

Of course, it isn’t all smooth sailing from here. OnePlus still has to obtain “technical approval” from T-Mobile to launch its device one time, a source familiar with the matter told CNET.

Even then, there’s no guarantee that a partnership with a major carrier will help OnePlus achieve market success. Just look at other lesser-known brands like Essential.

Still, partnering with T-Mobile bodes well for OnePlus. And it offers consumers at T-Mobile another alternative when it comes to flagship smartphones.

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