OnePlus builds some of the best smartphones available today, but the brand is still relatively unknown to many. That might be changing.
“Over the past eight years, the OnePlus brand has grown from an exciting newcomer into a global force to be reckoned with,” OnePlus co-founder and CEO Pete Lau writes in a post to the OnePlus forums. “In the premium category, we have been widely recognized in the industry for the quality of our products and the ability to outperform other brands with significantly larger budgets.”
I guess I don’t disagree with any of that. OnePlus has a long history of delivering flagship components and quality for prices that undercut most of the industry. But it’s a quirky company, and it routinely makes feature decisions for its products that many find curious. And it wasn’t until this year that it finally started shipping smartphones with camera systems that rival those from market leaders like Apple and Samsung (and, once, Huawei).
The problem for OnePlus is its reach. In the United States, especially, the brand is virtually unknown and the availability of its products via wireless carriers veers between barely and nonexistent. For those in the know, however, OnePlus is one of several sub-brands of BBK Electronics, alongside OPPO—which is the majority shareholder of OnePlus—iQOO, Realme, and Vivo. Don’t recognize all or most of those brands? You probably don’t live in Asia.
According to Lau, OnePlus is at a turning point. It has evolved dramatically in recent years from the small upstart that released one “flagship killer” each year into a far more complicated company with several smartphone products and many related peripherals, including a smartwatch. And for it to continue to grow, it’s going to need some help. Naturally, he is turning to his corporate overseers.
“True to our Never Settle spirit, we want to continue giving you the highest-quality OnePlus experience possible, and to do that, we must adapt as a team and as a brand,” he says. “As many of you know, last year I took on some additional responsibilities to oversee product strategy for both OnePlus and OPPO. Since then, we have integrated a number of our teams together with OPPO to better streamline our operations and capitalize on additional shared resources. After seeing positive impact from those changes, we’ve decided to further integrate our organization with OPPO.”
According to Lau, this deeper integration with OPPO will give OnePlus more resources and efficiency, allowing it to, among other things, deliver stable software updates more quickly. The OnePlus brand is moving forward, and is not being subsumed by OPPO.
Naturally, this raised some questions. One I’m keenly interested in is the future of OxygenOS, OnePlus’ highly optimized version of Android. Mr. Lau told one community member that “OxygenOS will remain the operating system for global OnePlus devices outside of the China market.” So that’s good news. But as a fan of OnePlus, it’s hard not to be a bit concerned about what this really means for the future. And whether future “integration”—which I view more as a consolidation or merger—will shake things up even further. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.