OnePlus is about to launch its first ever TV

“Flagship killer” phone company OnePlus has its eyes set on the TV market

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OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer that told users to “never settle” and instead opt for its “flagship killer” smartphones is moving into the TV business.

Having truly smashed the smartphone world wide open with its high-spec phones at more palatable prices than the competition, OnePlus is looking for a new challenge. That challenge appears to be building a truly smart TV, one with full AI assistant technology that integrates seamlessly with your smartphone and your life.

That’s a bold claim from OnePlus founder Pete Lau for a product as seemingly straightforward as a TV but he believes it’s a market in need of change. “At present, we feel the current market of TVs is still feeling quite traditional in their functionality and experience,” Lau said to Business Insider via an interpreter. “They haven’t really well-integrated the internet into the [TV] experience, and making the experience match with what would be expected in today’s connected society.”

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It’s not really clear how OnePlus plans to solve this issue, but at least it has goals for what needs to be done. That’s all that was needed to make the OnePlus a success, do what the competition is doing, but make it more attractive by selling it for less.

Interestingly, Lau doesn’t want people to run away with speculation on some uber TV from the smartphone giant. “This will have to be a process that proceeds step-by-step,” he explains. “It won’t be something that’s perfect and absolutely complete and revolutionary from the start. So we can’t get everyone’s hopes up too soon.”

There’s no concrete release date for the TV but Lau hopes OnePlus can bring it to market in 2019 and utilise software updates to improve it. Over the five years following launch, the team want to add more “smart” options and improve connectivity and integration with a user’s life via these updates.

It’s also not known just what specs the OnePlus TV will have – will it be 4K HDR, maybe even 8K? Lau says that it’s building a premium, flagship TV, with the specs to match, so I’d at least expect it to be 4K HDR. There’s also no mention of price, something that OnePlus has managed to really stay true to its ideals on – even if Brexit caused its phone prices to jump up.

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Interestingly, aside from the addition of a smart assistant, Lau wants the OnePlus TV to contain a built-in camera. It’s not really clear why this is the case, but Lau reassures prospective buyers who have privacy concerns saying, “we have this in mind, and we will have a solution.”

I’m not too sure how well that’ll sit with a lot of customers, especially those who already suspect many Chinese manufacturers of dabbling with the Chinese government a little too much.

Lau also claims that the OnePlus TV is the next big product from the company, “we want to be clear and make it well known that this decision has been made and we are going to make this product.” This does suggests that the OnePlus 6 successor could be the last jump in the company’s smartphone business for a little while – although that’s pure speculation on my part.

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A move into the TV business is somewhat surprising but, as OnePlus has major investment from Oppo Electronics it’s not too surprising that they may want to expand international brand success of OnePlus to other devices. Smartphones have been a popular product for a very long time, but now televisions are having another wind now 4K content has become accessible.

Building a TV and building a smartphone aren’t necessarily as far away from one another as you may think. OnePlus doesn’t actually manufacture the parts of its smartphone but smartly buys and tweaks existing components to build its more affordable flagship killers. If it utilises the same approach for the TV market, we could see a very swish TV put together from high-end components at an affordable price. The major difference between this and, say, a Hisense TV would be OnePlus’ custom interface and integration with AI and smartphones. Time will tell if this is a smart move for the company, but it’s an undeniably interesting one.

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