OnePlus Reaches a Turning Point

Posted on June 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 5 Comments

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.

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Comments (5)

5 responses to “OnePlus Reaches a Turning Point”

  1. Avatar

    obarthelemy

    Seen from Europe, all the hooplah in the US about OnePlus is a bit puzzling. Theire first 2 phones were interesting, then they quickly became unremarkable compared to Redmi, Realme, Vivo, Oppo, Poco, .... Most of the market momentum is still with Xiaomi here, but then again, we have a lot more brands to get excited about. Of all those, only OnePlus is available in the US IIRC ?

    BTW, all those brands are only 2 companies really: Xiaomi (Redmi, Mi, Poco,...) and BBK (Realme, Vivo, Oppo, Oneplus, ...)

    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      Yeah, all those brands you mentioned just don't exist in America. I've imported a few Xiaomi phones, and I like them, but I really wouldn't recommend that anyone else buy a phone with no warranty and software that is still pretty wonky. For a while, OnePlus was the only "affordable alternative flagship" you could get in America, up until maybe the OnePlus 5. Then they stopped being affordable. Now, if you don't want to spend $700+ on a flagship, your choices are one of the Samsung Galaxy A phones, or a Pixel 4a.

  2. Avatar

    rmlounsbury

    It is disappointing that OnePlus has mostly left the "affordable flagship" space behind and moved into the premium smartphone category. They have the Nord devices but those are low-end and don't replace their old flagship killer devices. I also appreciated that OnePlus mostly stuck to a vanilla Android experience with meaningful touches in the system but no dramatic changes or skins. Oddly enough, it seems Android OEM's are getting more aggressive with their skinning and customization of the Android experience than ever before. Unfortunately OnePlus is doing the same thing and instead of simple meaningful changes they are building their own experience which could be good or bad. To be determined there.


    I've always been a fan of OnePlus. But, they have been a bit manic in the last year or two. All that being said if I was to go back to Android I'd probably take a long hard look at a OnePlus device.

  3. Avatar

    rafaelsolmaker

    And then let's see 'em slowing becoming the villain they swore to fight against. Sad state of affairs.

  4. Avatar

    locust_infested_orchard_inc.

    Amongst the plethora of phones models out there, the OnePlus 8 Pro eventually became the successor to my timeless Lumia 950 XL.


    During the period of my phone upheaval, my resentment to Apple deepened as I despaired at the inability of iOS to function as I would expect, battling with my iNotch 11 Pro on a daily basis that now lays in abandonment in a drawer, displaying wounds of war to show for the constant hurl of brutal attacks executed by my constant irritation at the failure of iOS to function in a non-idiosyncratic manner.


    The scars borne by both the Gorilla Glass and the stainless steel frame of my iNotch 11 Pro is testament that despite Apple's powerful optimised ARM silicon, its iOS is a decrepit, inept, dysfunctional OS that vastly underutilises what lies beneath the notched carcass.


    My sense is that iOS is intentionally developed to be a tetraplegic to appease the one-click millennials and Gen Z.


    With bated breath I await for the Surface Foldable™ Windows Edition, so I can lunge my Android phone into the darkness of same drawer that resides the iNotch.


    A guy can dream, can't he ?

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