The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro have 5G, and you don't have to buy a special "5G" version to get it — it's on every model. But 5G compatibility isn't that easy to explain right now. When we focus on the major carriers in the U.S., there are caveats and restrictions on what networks — and parts of networks — the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro will work on.
This is what you need to know about 5G network compatibility before buying a OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro in the U.S.
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro on Verizon 5G
In a surprising move, OnePlus was able to strike a deal with Verizon to actually sell the OnePlus 8 through the carrier. And of course nowadays that means the phone has to support Verizon's mmWave 5G network.
The OnePlus 8 will be sold directly from Verizon, and this is the only way to use the phone on Verizon's 5G network. If you buy an unlocked OnePlus 8, it will not have the bands necessary to connect to Verizon's 5G.
In an odd twist, the OnePlus 8 Pro will not be sold by Verizon, and therefore there is no way to use it on Verizon's 5G network because the unlocked model also doesn't have the right network bands. This is a bit of a bummer, but we at least have the smaller OnePlus 8 available for customers who don't want to switch carriers.
If you do buy a OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro unlocked and bring it to Verizon, it will only work with LTE.
Buying the OnePlus 8 is the only way to get 5G on Verizon. If you bring an unlocked phone, you'll be stuck on LTE.
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro on AT&T 5G
At this time, neither the OnePlus 8 nor OnePlus 8 Pro support AT&T 5G. According to the published spec pages for the phones they do have the one necessary network band to work on AT&T's Sub-6 5G network, but unless the phones are certified and whitelisted by AT&T they will remain on LTE only. This isn't a massive loss considering AT&T has a very small slice of spectrum available in the Sub-6 range, and has a much larger bet placed on its mmWave rollout, but it's still important to set your expectations.
There's a possibility that AT&T could at some point allow for the phones to connect to its Sub-6 5G network, but we have no idea when that would be, if ever. And given the historically weak support for even AT&T's advanced calling features on OnePlus phones, it doesn't seem too likely to us that this relationship will immediately improve to address 5G compatibility.
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro on T-Mobile 5G
As you may have expected, T-Mobile is the best-supported carrier for the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. The unlocked models of both phones support T-Mobile's Sub-6 5G network, meaning you'll get the same network access as many of the phones it sells directly. T-Mobile's Sub-6 5G is the portion of the network that operates on lower frequencies, and has the widest coverage — you'll find its Sub-6 5G layering most of the same footprint as its LTE network.
The phones also support Sprint's mid-band Sub-6 network, which was the core reason T-Mobile purchased Sprint in the first place. So as T-Mobile starts to integrate Sprint's spectrum into its new larger network, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are ready for it.
Curiously, though, neither phone supports T-Mobile's mmWave 5G network, which is admittedly small right now but is a main pillar of its overall 5G rollout nationwide — particularly in dense cities. This is even the case for the OnePlus 8 that T-Mobile will be selling directly, which is a head-scratcher.
For most people, Sub-6 5G is more important, especially in the next year, because T-Mobile's mmWave network is very small and only available in parts of a handful of cities. But it will become more and more important, so if you plan on keeping your OnePlus 8 for a couple of years, keep in mind that you won't have access to T-Mobile's whole 5G network as it grows.
You get 5G support on T-Mobile, whether you buy directly from the carrier or bring an unlocked phone. You won't get mmWave 5G, but that's not a huge deal.
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro on Google Fi or another MVNO
As is the case with any other unlocked 5G phone, whether it works with your chosen prepaid carrier or MVNO — like Google Fi — will depend on two things. First, the MVNO has to explicitly offer 5G — some do, and some don't. If yours does say it offers 5G, then the next step is knowing what major carrier it operates on.
If your MVNO operates on T-Mobile, you're in luck! You'll get T-Mobile Sub-6 5G just the same as you would on T-Mobile proper. If your MVNO runs off of AT&T (which is less likely, but there are some), you won't get 5G — at least, until AT&T lifts its restrictions and certifies the phone to run on its 5G network.
Wider U.S. availability
Wider network availability can be a plus.
This is a much more humble phone that more closely follows OnePlus phones of the past. And it's available directly from Verizon and T-Mobile, which can tip the scales in its favor.
Top of the line
The best phone OnePlus has ever released, with a price to match.
OnePlus outdid itself with an all-around great phone. It finally added in much-wanted features, and built on all of its great strengths in performance and software. It also charges a lot more than usual to get it all.
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