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Why OnePlus has become just like every other manufacturer

In just a few years, OnePlus has succeeded in becoming one of the most popular manufacturers on the smartphone market. It was no easy task and few of us could have predicted such success for Pete Lau and Carl Pei’s teams. Today, however, we have to realize that the Chinese manufacturer has changed and appears to be less of the start-up business that wanted to push the big names aside and more of a traditional manufacturer like Samsung, LG or even HTC.

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It came as a surprise to many of us when Pete Lau and Carl Pei left Oppo after a series of successes. But when they created OnePlus, their intentions became clear. At the time, their ambition was simple: to shake up the market and push other manufacturers aside. OnePlus wanted to democratize top-range smartphones, offer high performance and elegant devices at affordable prices and only sell online thus bypassing traditional distribution channels.

In short, the two young entrepreneurs wanted to overthrow the system that they found unfavorable for consumers. It was a revolutionary ambition that was highlighted by their slogan “never settle”.




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The OnePlus 3T is the latest OnePlus smartphone. © AndroidPIT

However, after four years in business, the youthful idealism seems to have disappeared. The brand is evolving and there are now few differences between OnePlus and its competitors. Having thrown its proverbial hat into the ring of top-range devices, OnePlus is no longer the troublemaker that it was and it now seems to be a lot like Samsung, LG or even Huawei.

Maturity that comes with some advantages…

In some ways, this maturity isn’t a bad thing. OnePlus has disposed of its invitation system that was implemented on the first OnePlus models. While this system allowed the brand to manage the production of its smartphones and avoid stock breakages, it also generated a lot of frustration among users. Using invitations to buy the latest flagship by the manufacturer was ludicrous and some smart users even found a way to use this to supplement their own incomes. OnePlus has grown up now though and can now better anticipate demand.

Using invitations to buy the latest flagship by the manufacturer was ludicrous

The brand has also made an effort to improve post-sale services. While initially, the returns system wasn’t great, OnePlus has significantly improved. The manufacturer has progressively opened regional repair centers throughout the world in order to reduce the time needed to diagnose and repair smartphone faults. Customer services were also internationalized by making them available in several languages.

... but it also has its disadvantages

However, the gentrification of OnePlus also has its drawbacks. Firstly, we noticed a severe increase in price. OnePlus has completely fallen into line with other manufacturers in regards to their increasingly elitist prices.

The first Smartphone launched by the manufacturer, the OnePlus One, cost only about $290 for the 16 GB version and $330 for the 64 GB version. Year after year, the prices increased slightly: $370 for the OnePlus 2 (16 GB version), then $430 for the OnePlus 3 (for the 64 GB version) and, finally, $480 for the OnePlus 3T (64 GB version). The OnePlus 5, which we expect to be launched at the start of June, is likely to carry on this upsetting tradition as it is rumored that the smartphone will retail for around $450.




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OnePlus has picked up another bad habit from traditional manufacturers in terms of updates. In recent weeks, many OnePlus fans have been let down as the manufacturer hasn’t kept its promises, namely updates that are taking at least 24 months. The OnePlus One received its latest update in 2016, the OnePlus X hasn’t received anything since November and the OnePlus 2 is still waiting for Nougat.

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OnePlus hasn't keep its promises about updates. © AndroidPIT

Ultimately, all these changes in OnePlus aren’t really surprising. The company is making choices that make sense for a company operating in an increasingly ambitious mobile phone market. Pete Lau and Carl Pei wanted to revolutionize the top-range smartphone market and they succeeded, at least in part. But to continue to grow, they had to make compromises and abandon some of their principles. OnePlus simply discovered the harsh reality of being a popular smartphone manufacturer, just like a teenager that’s transitioning into adulthood.

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  • I wholeheartedly have to disagree with you! You have no idea what you're talking about they've gotten more expensive because they have gotten better and better spec, admittedly they have got a little high and haven't got better with the screen in years and battery life and Camera could be better but that's it!

  • You are right. OnePlus has now joined the rest of the pricey pack, led proudly by Samsung. However, your justification of this 'gentrification' I don't agree with. It's the same old story of success going to the bosses' head and losing the revolutionary vision. Falling trap to the lure of quick profits. Not the story of teenage transition to adulthood.

  • Jay Viper 3 months ago Link to comment

    will they start putting offline stores that provide sales and support in major markets as well? until they do so, I don't see them being on par with the major makers

  • Exodvz 3 months ago Link to comment

    It was just a matter of time for them to start acting like big companies like Samsung, Huawei and others. They keep failling to impress every time they launch a new device and the price keeps scalling up. They have forgotten their initial principle and now all they think its how can increase incomes. They have lost the "wow" factor and became just another smartphone brand.

  • If they get to Samsung's style of pricing, then their end days are numbered. Along with the likes of Huawei, Vivo and their bigger sibling Oppo. Save for the 3 still buoyed by their home turf sales, oddly enough 1+ enjoys less of the same leverage.

  • storm 3 months ago Link to comment

    They have failed to impress me with every release. I was serious about the OnePlus two but the underdelivery pushed me to the Moto X Pure. Watching them flail about since has only proven out their poor planning, QA, engineering and more.

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