You have read correctly, 5G is not currently enabled on the OnePlus 8 series for use in NZ. This is not an issue specific to the stock that PB will be distributing, rather it is OnePlus' decision not to enable 5G capabilities for regions they have not specifically partnered with an operator in at this time. The difference between PB and parallel importers (other than ANZ fast charger, real 24 month warranty service, the safety certification required by law, and demo units) is that we have taken the time and expense to test this before launch and let customers know upfront so that they can make an informed decision.
OnePlus have provided us with the following statement: "Currently, the OnePlus 8 Series is 5G-capable in the below countries: USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Italy, Spain, Austria and China."
This is their decision to lock it down in software at launch rather than an issue with the device's hardware. I am quite certain there will be unofficial means to unlock the capability, and it may be unlocked in software officially later down the road, however as it stands today these products do not attach to Voda NZ's 5G network out of the box. I am also quite certain that parallel importers currently advertising the 5G capabilities of these products will have very unhappy customers.
Just watch, it'll mysteriously disappear from product listings after this post... :)
NZ, among many other smaller countries, has enjoyed extremely wide interoperability of smartphones with local networks for many years. 3G and 4G have been comparatively straightforward once the chipsets and frequencies deployed stabilised. This is not yet the case with 5G. Being a brand new and emerging technology, there is significant work required to optimise for 5G sub6 - brands like Samsung, Oppo, and Huawei have spent months working with VFNZ and Spark to get this work done. It's also very expensive to implement in handsets, requiring new and elaborate internal antenna + power amplifier designs and precise tuning, per market, per network. We saw interoperability issues with 5G coming some time ago and reached out to our friends at Voda NZ to confirm that their 5G network will accept any hardware that is correctly specced and capable of connecting to it - this is indeed the case, and is in contrast to the UK, for example, where 5G-capable devices initially needed to be added to operator whitelists before they would attach.
Incidentally, numerous other 5G devices configured for specific 5G networks, including a number of Australian-market 5G models, will not attach to 5G in NZ either.
At OnePlus' suggestion, we had samples sent to NZ for testing prior to launch and can confirm the stock configuration of the software will not attach. Given the high prices and premium nature of these products, it was only fair and right to be certain this was the case before making a call on ranging them. This was a tough call, as it's at best rough to pay for hardware you can't use - but that beats paying for hardware you can't use and finding out after you've bought it. Had there been 4G variants available, we would have ranged those instead, but you can partially thank Qualcomm's strategy with the SD865 platform for the spike in flagship prices this year.
That said - the OnePlus 8 Pro in particular is a phenomenal product. I have one in hand and cannot say enough good things about it. Screen, design, ergonomics, and finally camera are all top tier. Truly excellent in ways a OnePlus smartphone has never quite been before. It is absolutely fair to choose not to buy this product for the absence of 5G. The important thing is that everyone considering buying these products knows ahead of time that this feature is not available right now. Given the massive interest we've had in it + 5G will be largely irrelevant to the majority of NZ for the majority of this device's useful lifespan, we've decided to bring it to market and give our customers an informed choice.
Stay tuned for pre-order.