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T-Mobile could carry the OnePlus 6T

Rumored deal could give OnePlus access to many more consumers

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

OnePlus may be taking a huge step into the US.

The smartphone maker will reportedly partner exclusively with T-Mobile to sell its upcoming flagship OnePlus 6T, rumored to arrive in October, according to CNET.

Founded in 2013, OnePlus has made its name by offering serious value in the budget to mid-range category. Our review of the OnePlus 6 described it as “something like 90% as good as [the Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone X]... at a price point about 40% cheaper.”

OnePlus 6 review: Dollar-for-dollar, the best value in smartphones

The company is based in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, but almost since the beginning it’s focused squarely outside China. Its overseas sales are more than double those domestically, with the US and Europe among its biggest markets.
Right now, it’s already the top smartphone brand in the US for US$400-600 devices sold without a carrier contract.

But without partnering with a carrier, OnePlus has so far been locked out of a huge part of the market. Around 90% of all smartphones in the country are sold through carriers, so getting access into that part of the market is vital for any phone maker’s growth.

ZTE, whose devices have been available through AT&T and Sprint, was the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the US until the Trump administration announced it was punishing the Chinese company earlier this year.

CNET says T-Mobile will have a special version of the OnePlus 6T optimized for the carrier’s network. But the partnership isn’t a done deal yet: OnePlus will need to pass T-Mobile’s network test before receiving technical approval to launch.

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For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.