Like many other smartphone manufacturers, OnePlus has recently hit the headlines and hasn't come out looking so good. The number of blows has increased over the past few days. Their use of credit card data has already led people's trust in the manufacturer to deteriorate. The criticism from journalists and industry experts is also growing. But a close look reveals that not every scandal is real, and other smartphone manufacturers make mistakes as well and hardly learn from them. The industry has to change.
OnePlus smartphones are undoubtedly among the best. It offers a software interface that is relatively close to stock, technically and graphically, which is something that I really appreciate (more due to habit than technological interest, I'll admit). The fast charging system (Dash Charge) lives up to its reputation, the battery fills up at phenomenal speed. Their prices remain affordable and are a real bargain if you consider the quality of the components.
I also like using the devices and have had long tests with them. But the news of the last few weeks put a harsh damper on my impression of OnePlus.
How OnePlus came under criticism
Despite the qualities named above, OnePlus is a disappointment. The devices themselves don't disappoint, of course, but the relationship between the business and its users is falling apart. This is even true of the long-term fans who started with OnePlus. They might have to reconsider their loyalty. Regular readers may already know that the Chinese manufacturer has gotten into hot water in recent months. Do you remember the broken promise to carry Nougat on the OnePlus 2? Or the OnePlus 5 screen, which is mounted upside down, causing the so-called 'jelly scrolling'. OnePlus addressed the complaints of its user base arrogantly, by deciding that this was not a problem...
OnePlus is also a repeat offender when it comes to cheating on benchmarks. Here again, its defense is pretty outrageous. OnePlus claims that optimizing the device to have better scores on benchmarks doesn't count as cheating.
Not breaking the silence makes the press hypersensitive
One of the more recent reports about data transfers from com-oneplus.clipboard shows the extent to which the press is now opposed to OnePlus. Does the beta version actually send all the clipboard content to servers in China? The analysis of the clipboard found that this was only 'half as bad' as the Notebookcheck headlines.
Recently, incidents have been reported that indicate that OnePlus customers have been the victims of credit card fraud. After payment on OnePlus.net – the only official distribution channel for smartphones – some users noticed further charges. It was only recently that OnePlus responded to the reports with a statement and an investigation. Too late. The reputation of OnePlus has suffered in my eyes. Above all, however, it is noticeable that the manufacturer often doesn't react to the criticism at a reasonable speed and to an appropriate extent.
...but that's an issue throughout the whole industry
News like the alleged credit card fraud spreads quickly on the net and the allegations are quickly regarded as facts or evidence. As soon as the frenzy starts, it becomes difficult for PR departments and journalists to objectify to the heated debate.
But the press doesn't just have OnePlus on their hands. Samsung is employing minors. Apple wants to artificially limit the lifespan of its iPhones. The Note 7 was launched twice with a dangerously defective battery. Many processors from Intel, AMD and others have problematic vulnerabilities in their security. Manufacturers' statements are often meaningless or evasive. There are many reasons why the press has become sensitive.
Once trust has been lost, manufacturers must more eagerly and quickly demonstrate that all the critics are wrong. We need contrary proof that can invalidate false reports. The damage done to reputations can often only be repaired again if brands continue to counteract the invalid claims.
What can OnePlus do better?
As a community-oriented company, OnePlus has an excellent opportunity to counteract the claims. Due to direct sales, their proportion of loyal customers is likely to be considerably higher than their competitors, whose products are stuck sitting in shop windows.
These customers want to understand why decisions are made that affect their investments. OnePlus customers go directly to OnePlus when they make a purchase, and that's precisely why OnePlus can respond like no other when it comes to communication, no matter if it's just a newsletter or a post in the community forum that deals with press releases.
What do you think of OnePlus? Does the company deserve another chance?
The article was edited after publication. The headline and introduction have a focus on OnePlus, but the article is intended to discuss an overall problem in the industry.