The OnePlus 6T has a secret weapon, and it’s not what you think

OnePlus 6T review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Amazing tech isn’t the killer feature of the brand new OnePlus 6T, such as the in-display fingerprint sensor or the new Gorilla Glass 6 protection, which should survive multiple bumbles and fumbles. Neither are this fantastic smartphone’s drool-worthy good looks, nor a price tag that will make you do a double take, the real breakthrough here.

No, that would be a partnership OnePlus announced with T-Mobile, as well as support for Verizon’s network – both of which make the OnePlus 6T the most accessible phone for U.S. consumers ever for the company. That’s a big deal, because it means the brand can finally stream through the public consciousness. Yes, within the tech world, OnePlus has become an established, reputable brand in a relatively short period of time. But ask most Americans if they’ve heard about it and you’ll see shrugs.

It’s something we’ve asked OnePlus almost every time the company has launched a phone: When will you get a U.S. carrier on board?

OnePlus smartphones have previously supported only the GSM network, which meant they were compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and not Verizon or Sprint. Even then, you couldn’t go to a store to see these phones in action; the company has never sold them through a carrier, just on its site.

You need carrier support to break through the duopoly that is Samsung and Apple, especially because most Americans buy their phones this way or through retail stores.

“Brick and mortar stores will still be one of the main channels for smartphone sales,” Jeff Fieldhack said in a Counterpoint Research report on smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2018. “Physically touching and testing high-end devices is still important for the consumer as flagship [average selling prices] continue to climb. … While Amazon is doing well, carriers still have the upper hand. Online sales will continue to grab small amounts of market share, but it will not spike outside of key flagship launches, holidays, and special online sale days.”

Increased carrier support means more people will be conscious of the OnePlus brand.

OnePlus is putting its latest phone into 5,600 T-Mobile stores around the country. And the T-Mob won’t just be displaying and advertising the phone; it’s also offering to shave $300 off the price if you trade-in a select device (the supported list is long), bringing an already affordable flagship phone to a truly unbeatable price.

Better yet, T-Mobile is offering financing so you can pay the phone off in easy, monthly payments. (The only trade off with the T-Mobile deal? It’s for the mirror gloss variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, and it lacks dual-SIM support.)

Then there’s Verizon support. Verizon has more than 150 million subscribers in the U.S., allowing OnePlus to reach millions more it couldn’t before — and grow from there. The OnePlus 6T will still need to be bought from OnePlus’ site, but it’s not a barrier anymore as you can simply throw in a Verizon SIM card for cellular service to kick in. The phone supports Verizon’s LTE band, including support for VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling.

OnePlus 6T review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Increased carrier support means more people will be conscious of the brand, and the T-Mobile partnership will allow those interested to try the phones in stores before they buy. This doesn’t just impact the U.S., as OnePlus has added more carriers around the world. It now supports 233 carriers in 74 countries. In the U.K., the phone will be available in EE and Vodafone stores alongside the O2 network.

This also couldn’t be a more perfect time for OnePlus. Smartphone prices are rising. Even the OnePlus 6T costs a little more than the OnePlus 6, but it’s still a fraction of what you’d pay for an iPhone XS or a Galaxy Note 9. U.S. consumers hold onto their phones for an average of 2.83 years before they decide to upgrade, according to HYLA Mobile Inc., reported by the Wall Street Journal, and it’s partly due to rising prices. Wider network support means OnePlus can show consumers they do not need to pay upwards of $700 for a good phone.

In our review, we described the OnePlus 6T as “everything you want at half the price,” and it’s true. You get the same processor that powers the Galaxy Note 9; there’s a big battery that will easily get you through a full day; and the 6.4-inch screen covers almost the entire front of the phone. The downsides are it only has a decent camera, there’s no headphone jack, no proper water resistance, and the new under-glass fingerprint sensor isn’t as reliable. These are minor problems, though … because everything else about the OnePlus 6T makes this one of the best value phones you can buy right now.

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