China’s OnePlus, backed by Qualcomm and T-Mobile, launches smartphone in US

30 Oct, 2018 2:07 pm

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Chinese smartphone company whose high-end products are little known outside a tech-savvy niche entered the US market with the backing of two key local allies – chipmaking giant Qualcomm and mobile operator T-Mobile US Inc  and no questions from US regulators.

The foray by 5-year-old Shenzhen-based OnePlus comes after US mobile carriers AT&T  and Verizon this year backed away from plans to work with China’s Huawei on high-end phones in face of pressure from the US government, which considers Huawei a security risk.

The United States also briefly banned companies from selling goods to ZTE , which was caught shipping US technology to Iran and North Korea, violating US sanctions.

“Given the involvement of the Chinese government with other Chinese telecommunications companies, we should always take a close look any time a new Chinese telecommunications supplier tries to enter the domestic market,” said US Senator Mark Warner, in an emailed response to a Reuters question. “There can be real security concerns here, as we saw with Huawei and ZTE.”

But the OnePlus alliance, announced at an event in New York, shows how many US-China business relationships, including those involving the most advanced technologies, are marching ahead despite the escalating US China trade war.

T-Mobile said the OnePlus 6T smart phone would launch exclusively at the carrier’s stores on Nov. 1 with a starting price of $549, the first time a OnePlus handset has been sold through a US wireless provider – and a deal that the firm’s larger rivals such as Huawei could not pull off.

While some OnePlus models have been on sale in the United States through e-commerce websites, carrier relationships like the one with T-Mobile are critical because most US consumers still purchase phones through their carriers.

“I don’t know if it is a good time for anybody else,” Carl Pei, the 29-year-old founder of OnePlus, said of the prospect of entering the US carrier-bundled phone market during an interview with Reuters at an event in Hong Kong last week. “It is a good time for us.”




Latest Videos