First announced about a year ago, OnePlus is finally ready to launch its television. Company CEO, Pete Lau, recently confirmed that the TV will be called the OnePlus TV and though he had earlier said it should be launched in 2020, recent reports suggest the TV will come to market by September this year.
While OnePlus hasn't given out many details about the TV yet, submission to Bluetooth SIG (a certification required by devices that use Bluetooth) that were reported online show that the company will be selling the TV in 43 inch, 55 inch, 65 inch and 75 inch variants. Other reports suggest that the 43 inch variant may be exclusive to India, while the other models will be available worldwide. In the beginning, TVs are expected to be sold in India and China only, given its worldwide popularity, you could expect OnePlus to sell in other countries soon enough.
Furthermore, the Bluetooth SIG certification also reveals that OnePlus is acquiring panels from TPV Display Technologies, a giant in the display technology space, that also holds the rights for selling Philips' televisions in India. In fact, in its 2018 financial report the company's chairman, Jason Hsuan, specifically mentioned Philips televisions and how its new OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs have received praise worldwide. Until 2018, TPV had the rights to sell Philips TVs worldwide, but not in India. It acquired these rights after the company's then partner, Videocon, failed to pay royalties to the brand.
While this doesn't tell us much about the software, user interface and other features on the OnePlus TV, what it does suggest is that the panel quality would be similar to comparably sized TVs from Philips. It's possible that OnePlus' largest TV and rumoured OLED TVs will resemble the Philips Ambilight TVs as well, but likely without the 'Ambilight' functionality. This, of course, is speculation only at the moment.
While it is likely that OnePlus' television will run on a version of Android, what remains to be seen is whether it will have a "fork" of the Android mobile operating system (OS) or whether it will run on the AndroidTV platform. Since Android is an open-source operating system, it's possible for anyone to tweak the OS to suit their purposes. This is called forking, and is often done on televisions that claim to be "Android-powered". Companies like Vu have sold TVs running on forked versions of Android in the past. In fact, even Xiaomi's Patchwall OS is based on Android, though the company's current televisions offer both AndroidTV and Patchwall interfaces.
OnePlus, on the other hand, has usually depended on software to differentiate its products. Its smartphone software, OxygenOS, has often been credited for the company's phones performing well and impressing users. So, it would be likely that the company will make some sort of software play with its televisions as well, especially in terms of localising for Indian users. This is probably why the Bluetooth SIG submission mentioned above lists the OnePlus TV as an "unique Android TV".
Competitor Xiaomi had worked with Bangalore-based Sensara Technologies to integrate its Sensy smart remote software into its Patchwall OS, which runs on the Mi TVs in India. "Sensy is now integrated deep into MiTV's PatchWall OS. This means an AI-powered engine learns and serves you the best shows to watch from Broadcast TV," wrote Sensara CEO, Bharath Mohan, in a blog post after the launch of the first Mi TV launch in India. While some speculated that OnePlus has the same partnership, Sensara CEO, Bharath Mohan confirmed to Mint that his company isn't working with OnePlus at the moment.
The OnePlus TV marks the company's first real foray into other device segments, but unlike in smartphones, the company might face tougher competition from Xiaomi here, which has already sold over two million Mi LED TVs in the country and has 39% of the smart TV market share here, according to IDC's Quarterly Smart Home Device Tracker. The OnePlus TV is expected to launch near the end of September , so we will have to wait and find out how it fares then.