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Want a 5G phone? Don’t expect great battery life, OnePlus warns

OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau has given two pence on the future of 5G phones — but not everyone will like what he has to say.

In an interview published this week, the tech boss explained that compromises to battery life and design may be necessary for 5G phones.

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Lau was effusive about the benefits of a 5G connection, saying we are currently limited in our imaginations of it because of our experience with 3G and 4G.

Looking further into the future, he told The Independent that he foresees a time “when the device in your hands and the cloud are acting as one experience”, eventually resulting in “a possibility of a super-knowledgeable assistant that will be enabled for each person, based on the cloud functionality and that combination of cloud, 5G and artificial intelligence”.

While 5G connectivity could open up an astonishingly integrated digital future, there are still significant design constraints in bringing it to consumers in 2019, because of the antenna configuration.

Lau explained the headache by saying “It would be easy to create a workable 5G solution that would be thick and ugly but that wouldn’t be what’s ultimately desired,” Lau added.

So far very few 5G phones have been announced, but one point of reference is the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which measures in at 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.9mm, exceeding even the size of the hefty Galaxy S10 Plus (157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm).

Keeping a pleasing size profile may well therefore lead to performance compromises, and Lau notes battery size in particular, when he talks of user demands.

“[Consumers] want the battery to last longer. To address this particular need, we could increase the battery size and make the device thicker but from our perspective this isn’t a best plan of action. Our customers want a device that is thin and light, but they also want it to last all day. That’s the ideal device. But 5G brings the challenge of a phone that’s harder to keep at the same size.”

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So it seems the upshot is that OnePlus will listen to customers but won’t necessarily do exactly what they want, instead balancing the demand with their own sense of the market.

Pete Lau was speaking ahead of the launch of the OnePlus 7 Pro on May 14. You can keep up with all the coverage here.

Would you accept a bigger handset if it had 5G connectivity? Let us know on Twitter @Trusted Reviews.

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