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OnePlus demos 5G phone for first time at MWC 2019

Jonathan Bray
25 Feb 2019
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OnePlus 'shows' latest phone connected to working 5G network at MWC 2019

We know that OnePlus is launching its first 5G phone this year but we haven’t had the chance to see one until now. Well, I say 'see' but the two devices, which were shown at the MWC Qualcomm booth, were both secured tightly behind glass cases and enclosed in thick white plastic shrouds, hiding their true identity.

It’s a bit tricky to glean anything about the upcoming OnePlus phone, therefore (likely to be called the OnePlus 7 5G), other than:

  1. It has a display
  2. It works, and...
  3. It supports 5G

We already know the next OnePlus phone will have a Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem on board, much like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and LG V50 5G. We also know, thanks to a statement from EE's Marc Allerain, that EE will be the first network to bring the phone to consumers in the UK.

Thanks to those plastic coverings, however, we still don’t know an awful lot about what the 5G OnePlus 7 will look like.

If you have a particularly overactive imagination you might draw the conclusion that the phone could have a tall, narrow 21:9 aspect ratio, just like Sony's new smartphones, but other leaked renders, including one shown on a slide during Carl Pei’s appearance at a Qualcomm presentation, appear to nix that particular interpretation of events.

What’s clearer is that the phone appears not to have a notch, suggesting the phone will have some kind of mechanical or motorised slider mechanism to hide the selfie camera neatly away.

Whatever you choose to believe, however, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the potential of 5G phones such as the forthcoming OnePlus flagship.

The main demonstration involved the OnePlus 5G phone playing a streaming game demo over the Shadow game streaming service, connected to a 5G network hosted on the Qualcomm stand.

The result is playable, console-class gaming over an internet connection, with most of the graphics streaming directly over a live 5G connection and very little controller lag. The gaming experience not only looks like it’s being played on a full-blown console, but there’s impressively little delay between moving the thumbstick and seeing that motion onscreen.

Clearly, this demo was being carried out in reasonably ideal circumstances, with a small number of devices connected to a single 5G base station, but if the promise of 5G becomes reality – superfast download and upload speeds coupled with ultra-low latency – the future’s looking bright, especially for mobile gaming.

As for the OnePlus phone itself, that's going to arrive at some point during the second quarter in 2019 and it's shaping up to be a pretty interesting handset – assuming we ever get to see it.

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