Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will unveil its latest premium flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 3, in an online virtual-reality event on June 14, and for the first time, buyers will be able to get their new phones without having to obtain an "invite" to make a purchase.
Company co-founder and CEO Carl Pei revealed the launch date in a June 1 post on the OnePlus product forums Web page.
OnePlus has released an app so smartphone fans around the world can watch the official virtual launch of the OnePlus 3 starting at 12:30 p.m. EDT on June 14. The launch will occur in a space-age virtual-reality product headquarters online called The Loop, where the new handset and its specifications, features and prices will be unveiled for the first time.
During the first two hours of the immersive 3D event, the phones can be ordered through The Loop, with open sales of the latest phones beginning at 3 p.m. EDT that day on OnePlus.net. A VR headset is recommended but not required to view the launch through the app, according to the company.
In the past, each new OnePlus smartphone model was released using an "invite" system that required potential buyers to request an invite from the company through its Web page to purchase a device.
With the OnePlus 3 release, that won't be required anymore, wrote Pei.
"We're releasing the OnePlus 3 invite-free, right from launch day," he wrote. "In addition, invites are gone forever from future OnePlus product launches."
The invite system was started because the company was initially very small and couldn't accurately anticipate the market demand for the first phones, wrote Pei. "We also weren't fans of flash sales, where there's a risk of everything selling out immediately, forcing fans to wait indefinitely. To address this, we designed the invite system to give customers a chance to purchase a phone as soon as we had inventory ready."
But that led to other problems, he said. "The demand for the OnePlus One was much higher than expected," with some potential buyers getting "into a frenzy hunting for invites, while others have complained continuously and loudly ever since. Regardless though, the invite system allowed us to scale our operations and manage our risks to help us grow more sustainably."
Now, though, the company has matured enough to dump the invite process and sell its products directly to customers, he added. "It's a big step for us as a company, our fans and fellow tech enthusiasts. After sending out millions of invites over the past two years, it's hard to not think back to the early days and how far we've come. We're proud to have reached a point where we feel confident in making our new device available without invites from day one."
In February, rumors began circulating that the next-generation OnePlus 3 smartphones would include Qualcomm's fast Snapdragon 820 processor and a 1080p display, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The new model will be the fourth such device from the company, which has been selling its smartphones since 2014.
OnePlus uses rich-looking materials and finishes to build its handsets and then offers them directly to consumers. Its original OnePlus One smartphone went on sale in April 2014 and sold more than 1 million units, according to the company. The phones are built to take on Apple's iPhones, Samsung's Galaxy S6 devices and other premium phones from the world's top manufacturers.
The previous OnePlus 2 model now sells for $299, down from $389 when it debuted in the United States in August 2015. The OnePlus 2 smartphone has 64GB of internal storage, 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and is wrapped inside an aluminum-magnesium alloy frame that features jewelry-grade stainless steel accents. It includes a Full HD 5.5-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD display, a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, an Adreno 430 graphics processor and up to 64GB of on-board eMMC 5.0 flash storage.
The OnePlus 2 also features 4G LTE capabilities, a SwiftKey keyboard that learns words that are chosen often by users, a fingerprint scanner for security, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 3,300mAh lithium polymer battery, a USB Type-C charging port and dual SIM card slots that support two nano SIM cards. The OnePlus 2 runs on OnePlus' own operating system, OxygenOS, which is based on Android 5.1. OxygenOS allows users to customize on-screen gestures, buttons, quick settings and more.