After weeks of teasing, OnePlus has finally announced the new OnePlus 6T, which improves upon the OnePlus 6 that was released about six months ago and introduces some new technologies. You can check out our full review for all of the details on how the 6T works and where it slots in this crazy season of smartphone launches.

But as good as the OnePlus 6T hardware is, it’s only half the story for the company. The 6T represents two significant steps for OnePlus in the US: it’s the first OnePlus device to be compatible with Verizon’s network, and it’s the first OnePlus phone to be sold directly by a US carrier. Prior to the 6T, OnePlus phones could only be purchased directly from the company, and they would only work on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks (and their derivatives). With the 6T, OnePlus is finally able to reach customers on the largest wireless network in the US, and at the same time, attract new phone shoppers walking into T-Mobile stores across the country.

vast majority of phones purchased in the US are bought in carrier or other retail stores, and it’s rare for a device to be sold by a carrier without loads of extra bloatware and superfluous branding to remind you who you pay each month for service each time you pick it up. In fact, before the OnePlus 6T, the only companies to get phones in carrier stores without such cruft have been Apple and Google. Needless to say, OnePlus has put itself in good company.

OnePlus has been selling its phones to US customers for years, but as successful as it has been with direct online sales so far, the opportunity for growth is far greater now that it has a carrier pushing its devices as well. The smartphone market may be more crowded than ever, but OnePlus has carved out a niche for itself by providing a high-end experience for a much lower price than the competition. OnePlus also has ideal timing for its push: traditional players like HTC and LG have faded away in the US as Samsung and Apple have run away with the market and global leaders like Huawei have been locked out.

With Verizon compatibility and T-Mobile marketing now on its side, OnePlus has the opportunity to move from the niche to a mainstream audience.

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