Is OnePlus still a consumer driven smartphone company?

OnePlus community

OnePlus is one of the very few smartphone manufacturers who gained immense popularity across the globe in a short period of time. It even managed to create a segment named “budget flagships” in the smartphone arena, all thanks to its sensible pricing, uncompromising performance, and an amazing community.

OnePlus touts itself as a manufacturer who actually listens to its users. While this claim holds up well to a great extent, it is still not entirely true. Let’s take a look why.

OnePlus 6 to be launched in the second quarter of 2018, confirms Pete Lau

Issues 

First is the “Two flagships a year” strategy, which OnePlus has been following since last year starting from the OnePlus 3T. Even though it promised that it would be a ‘one-time thing’ during the 3T launch, it happened again as the OnePlus 5T was launched midway through the year. While this might not necessarily be a bad move, it has annoyed quite a lot of OnePlus 5 users, especially ones who bought the device a month or two before the release of the 5T.

 

Secondly, OnePlus managed to disappoint even more customers by launching multiple variants of the same device at different points of time rather than releasing all at once. We’ve seen this trend growing with a Soft gold version of OnePlus 3 and 5, Midnight black (Colette) edition of 3T and Castelbajac (JCC+) edition of OnePlus 5. Company’s latest release – OnePlus 5T has already received three variants – Star Wars edition, Sandstone White, and Lava Red. This problem is not as prominent as the first one since most of them are special editions, either region specific or for a limited amount of stock. Also, almost all of these options are limited to the higher end variant only, so those who intend to purchase the base variant need not worry about the same.

OnePlus 5T Lava Red

OnePlus 5T Red Lava edition launches in India with a price of Rs 37,999

During its early days, OnePlus smartphones were mostly preferred by the enthusiast community. But the situation has changed a lot now. Especially due to the positive feedback from media and existing users, OnePlus smartphones have already found a place in the mainstream consumer’s purchase list. This is where both of the problems mentioned above become more relevant. Unlike the so-called ‘prosumers’, mainstream consumers care more about aesthetics and most of them cannot accept their smartphones becoming old just months after purchasing it.

Thirdly, the controversies. Be it the benchmark cheating, touch latency issues, jelly effect while scrolling, 1.6X zoom issues, user data collection or the recently discovered root access backdoor, OnePlus devices were always surrounded by a number of controversies. Though the company was quick in addressing and fixing the software related issues it usually fails to provide a proper explanation to the users.

Solutions

The easiest and most effective way of solving the first problem is by making a clear roadmap of upcoming products. This means that the users will be able to know that a new device is coming up and they will be in a position to make their purchase decision accordingly.

Another way is to issue cash backs or trade-in programmes for recent buyers through which they can get the new version by returning the old one and paying a reasonable extra amount.

OnePlus 5T

As far as colour variants are concerned, OnePlus is not the only company who does this. For example, let’s consider the Mi A1, a popular mid-range offering from Xiaomi. It received two new colour options – Rose gold and Red, months after launching the product. Even giant players like Apple and Samsung do this from time to time. The only solution is to announce or at least provide the time of availability for various colour options during the time of launch itself.

Coming to the third problem, there is nothing to be done other than increasing the transparency. Transparency is the key when it comes to a community-driven company like OnePlus so that it can avoid confusions among users as well as provide proper explanations in case if something goes wrong. 

Brand’s Perspective

Despite the popularity in major smartphone markets, OnePlus is still a small company, both in terms of sales numbers as well as resources. That is the main reason why it often shares design elements and technologies (like Dash Charge) with their parent company – Oppo.

Due to limited resources, OnePlus depends heavily on social media and community to spread the brand awareness rather than spending a ton of money on conventional advertising methods or celebrity endorsements.

Now that OnePlus is facing a heavy competition from the likes of Xiaomi, Nokia, and Huawei in the segment, it is important for the company to stay relevant in the market and to ensure that its devices stand out from the rest. The best way for that is to keep up with the trend and stay on media coverage which can be achieved by timely hardware upgrades and furthermore by launching new variants every now and then. 

OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T have received the Face Unlock feature.

In my personal opinion, I would be a little annoyed when the new refresh comes out every half a year, but it’s not that big of a deal as a new phone being launched doesn’t make the existing one any bad or obsolete. Since software updates have become one of the strongest suits of OnePlus, there is nothing much to worry about that aspect too. 

That is just my opinion. What is your take on the same? Are you annoyed with OnePlus’ strategy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and stay tuned to Mr.Phone for more.

Engineering student on paper, tech enthusiast by heart. Budding writer