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Opinion 5 min read No comments

OnePlus vs Honor: Carl Pei wins on stage

May 16th in London: OnePlus made its OnePlus 6 official, showing it to the same journalists who were sitting in front of George Zhao 24 hours earlier for the launch of the Honor 10. Two relatively small Chinese companies arrived in the English capital in the same week to make their devices official: it’s a challenge between the two teams on stage for the two launch events.

What Honor and OnePlus have in common

Honor and OnePlus have several things in common: they are both Chinese companies, they focus on their respective communities of fans, both just presented two competitively priced high-end devices, and to do so, chose London as the venue for the event. Honor opted for the more central Old Billingsgate, OnePlus went with the more peripheral Copper Box Arena.

Two different areas of the city, and quite far from each other. But the audience present was more or less the same: journalists from different parts of the world. YouTubers, influencers, and real fans of the brands. Everyone was seated in the semi-darkness in front of two large screen waiting to see two devices that they already knew a lot about from the rumors, hoping for some kind of surprise.

How did it perform on the stage?

There were no surprises, since everyone already knew everything about the Honor 10 and OnePlus 6. Of course, you can’t blame the brands. If you come to these events with the technical specifications and device images in your hands, the result is always the same. There’s no longer the enthusiasm of yesteryear.

Carl Pei tried to excite us by anticipating that two devices would take the stage. In addition to the OnePlus 6, the manufacturer also made the Bullet Wireless earphones official. They are reminiscent of Apple’s Beats X, but promise high sound quality for 69 dollars. The presentations from George Zhao, CEO of Honor, and Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, were quite similar: both went through their companies’ histories and record numbers.

Zhao told us about Honor’s 200% growth in the UK during the first quarter of 2018 (hence the decision to select London as a host for the event), its successes in Russia (3rd place brand), India (5th in market share), and China (where it’s #1).

Carl Pei talk about 2017, a golden year for the brand that sold 7000 models of the OnePlus 5 per minute, and that six months later, continued to deliver good results with its successor, the OnePlus 5T. Both were celebrated by users and fans alike.

Honor’s CEO, however, took a little more time to tell us about the Honor 10. It even lasted an hour and ten minutes, compared to 45 minutes for OnePlus. It is important to show new features to the people are important, as well as to explain why the decisions to integrate some features and the ways in which they were implemented. There were also distinguished guests there: Pierre Francois Dubois told us about the design of the Honor 10. Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland was perhaps a bit too much, right? The point is that staying focused wasn’t easy because even though the Honor 10 is an interesting smartphone, there’s wasn’t really that much news to report from the event.

Carl Pei took a more informal approach. After introducing Bluetooth headsets, he displayed the technical data sheet of the OnePlus 6 fairly quickly and then presented the features. There were no guests on stage, no confrontations with what the competition offers, and all while staying true to what OnePlus has long been tell us: “The real challenge is with ourselves, not with others”. And it was this simplicity, in my opinion, that made the event more enjoyable.

The OnePlus crowd is rowdier

OnePlus allowed 1000 fans to take part in the launch event of the OnePlus 6. The community has always been the mainstay of the brand, and during the event, they made themselves heard. The community’s enthusiasm was clearly felt in the applause and occasional commentary from the fans and Carl Pei himself.

After the presentation, some time was dedicated to let the attendees try the products and compare them and play some Asphalt 8, all with a DJ set in the background. Perhaps they needed to compensate for the promises that the brand didn’t keep in recent months, but OnePlus has really taken care of its fans and Carl Pei himself went on to personally thank them. Honor also relies on the community and there were users present at the event, but they were much smaller in numbers, and were much quieter. Did George Zhao’s words scare them?

Brands should reconsider their launch events

On stage OnePlus was more convincing and more exciting. Honor’s figures speak for themselves: the Honor 10 is already sold out in several markets. The smartphone is likable, convincing in terms of aesthetics and the technical data sheet, and the price is great.

OnePlus followers will probably go straight to the OnePlus 6, but some users may migrate to their Chinese competitor, which is more than 100 dollars cheaper for the standard version. That’s a hefty sum.

The fact remains that in my opinion, brands should change the way they handle launch events. The press and users arrive on presentation day with technical data, images, and videos already in hand. What really remains to be discovered? It’s hard to be enthusiastic, even if there’s a good device in front of you.

Which of the two brands impressed you the most on the? Do you usually follow the launch events on livestreams or do you find them boring? Leave a comment.

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