OnePlus as we knew it is dead

OnePlus started its life as a startup that manufactures high-end smartphones aimed at enthusiasts. Its first phones were barebones hardware that maximized value for money, while retaining a sense of identity (remember those sandstone cases?). This is something that is not easy on any device, no matter the price. But now 10 generations later, it feels like the OnePlus we knew is gone, and probably won’t come back.

Now, I don’t mean to be gloomy and gloomy. It is normal for companies to evolve over time. Just look at Nintendo, which started making Hanfouda cards from over 130 years ago, or Nokia, which can trace its roots back to a single pulp mill built in 1865. So while OnePlus hasn’t been around since about that time and wasn’t nearly as rooted, before the company’s next flagship phone arrived in the states United States, now seems like a good time to examine how a somewhat entry-level smartphone turned OEM.

Last year, OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau was promoted to Product Manager for both Oppo and OnePlus.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Founded in 2013 by Carl Pei and Pete Lau, OnePlus started as a subsidiary of BBK Electronics along with other well-known Chinese smartphone brands including Oppo, Vivo and most recently Realme. So right away there was a lot of DNA in common. But crucially, even though OnePlus phones often had similar designs and specifications compared to contemporary Oppo devices, the teams behind those phones were separate. (The old joke for years was that the latest Vivo phone would eventually become the next OnePlus device in a few months, but I could digress.) This gave OnePlus the freedom to tweak things to suit its core audience: die-hard phone geeks, mostly in the US and Western Europe before expanding later to India. Meanwhile, Oppo and Vivo have focused more on the Chinese market and other regions in Asia.

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Before the coronavirus pandemic, when a new OnePlus phone appeared, it often launched first in the US. OnePlus phones also have features like Alert Slider and OxygenOS that weren’t available on their sister companies’ phones. And as early as 2015, 60 to 70 percent of the company’s sales came from abroad Where growth in the West quickly outpaced the gains made at home. Recently in 2020, OnePlus sales have been in The United States grew by 143 percent While every other phone maker has seen shipments drop due to the pandemic and Silicon deficiency Which followed shortly after. Unlike Oppo and Vivo, OnePlus has carved out its niche abroad, and in a way, you can even think of OnePlus as a Western company that happens to be in the East.

For a company that started making barebones phones with high-end specs for enthusiasts, OnePlus has a very different focus for its products in 2022.
Here’s a slice from OnePlus’ recent roundtable during MWC 2022. For a company that’s starting to make barebones phones for enthusiasts, this kind of product focus feels like it’s coming from an entirely different company.

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But everything changed last year when OnePlus announces its official merger with Oppo. So now, instead of being an independent company (albeit with the same parent company of BBK), OnePlus is positioned as a sub-brand of the sister company run by Lau, who will jointly oversee the two companies while serving as chief product officer.

From a business point of view, the merger makes a lot of sense. Rather than having redundant teams working on similar projects at different companies, the combination of OnePlus and Oppo helps simplify research and development while boosting the scale at which the company can produce (and sell) devices. And it’s a similar story to the operating system that powers these devices, because after years of independent development, OnePlus announced That OxygenOS and ColorOS from Oppo will move to a common database.

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This means that while OxygenOS is still around, it’s more like a modified, stripped-down skin than ColorOS designed to look like the old OnePlus platform. But under the hood, they are the same thing. And if not Backlash from fansOppo is likely to suspend the OnePlus app entirely on Android For the Vivo platform.

While OxygenOS and ColorOS will continue to exist, both platforms will share a unified database rather than develop completely independently.
While OxygenOS and ColorOS will continue to exist, OnePlus’ switch to a cross-platform means that they are essentially the same platform with some differences and tweaks depending on your region.

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Unfortunately, this change to the new code base wasn’t smooth sailing. During the last round table held During the MWC late last monthOnePlus chief operating system product Gary Chen admitted that the latest iteration of OxygenOS (version 12) “did not meet expectations.” Moreover, when asked why OnePlus 10 Pro The OP10 Pro was first launched in China months before it was available in other regions, and Lau said the delay in availability of the OP10 Pro was not due to the ongoing global chip crisis, but rather because “software development is taking longer for non-Chinese countries.” This is a completely different approach to OnePlus’ global sales strategy than in the past. And lest we forget, there are still no plans to make the non-professional OnePlus 10, which seems strange after years of landing new phones in pairs.

Another important factor to consider is all the former employees who have recently left the company, most notably Carl Bay. It wasn’t long before the OnePlus/Oppo merger collapsed, Pei left the company Help create it for launch no thing. According to Lau, “Pei’s departure has had no impact on the development of OnePlus.” And while I understand the desire for the company to wear a stoic face during a major transition, allow me to maintain a little skepticism about that.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 4: (LR) OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei and TechCrunch hardware editor Brian Heater speak on stage during the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at the Moscone Convention Center on October 4, 2019 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Before leaving the company last spring, Pei was often the most visible employee at OnePlus, especially for customers in the West.

Steve Jennings via Getty Images

For several generations, Pei has often been the face of OnePlus, especially for customers in the West. He introduced new flagship devices at launch events, and was regularly shown to chat with customers or provide updates on company forums. And after launching its first product last year (Earbuds 1), nothing is about to become a direct competitor to OnePlus now that the company is preparing to launch phone 1 Sometime this summer. Without getting too deep into any personal drama, I think it’s pretty clear that Pei is still very interested in making gadgets, just not at OnePlus.

The brain drain didn’t just happen at the top of the ladder, with other long-time OnePlus executives like Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Kiang After leaving the company last year in April. Then there are the countless PR, outreach and support staff at OnePlus who have also left. Prior to 2020, I had basically the same three contacts or contacts on OnePlus for five years in a row. And while my recent contacts have been nothing short of professional, the amount of internal rotation I’ve seen looks a lot like a changing of the guard.

The Oppo 150W SuperVOOC flash charging with BHE (Battery Health Engine) enables the 4500mAh battery to reach a full charge in 15 minutes.  Battery health also doubles when compared to conventional flash charging.

OPPO

Then there are smaller moves like Warp Charging pushing a rear torch in favor of 150W SuperVooc charging, which is due to hit the upcoming OnePlus phone sometime in 2022. Right now, it’s pretty hard to get upset about getting faster charging technology, but here’s an example Another on how the Oppo side of the company leaked to OnePlus.

But perhaps most important is how OnePlus sees itself. After shipping more than 11 million phones last year, OnePlus set new sales records in 2021. And while the company says it will continue to support its core markets in the US, India, Europe and China, the company also has strong plans to expand its reach later this year. year to Canada, Mexico and South America (first for OnePlus). Going forward, OnePlus is eyeing North Africa and the Middle East as well. In short, while old enthusiasts will likely not be completely forgotten, 2022 feels like a massive boost for OnePlus to become a truly mainstream name.

A slide from OnePlus' MWC 2022 roundtable showing the company's plans to expand sales to Canada, Mexico, South America, North Africa and the Middle East starting this year.
OnePlus has very aggressive plans for expansion as the company looks to become a truly global name in 2022.

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In some ways, OnePlus is kind of the new LG, to fill in the void in the smartphone landscape left afterwards. Cross-country competitor Samsung has shut down its mobile phone business. And while this may sound like a sale (which, remember, is exactly what companies are made for), there are a number of positive things that have emerged as part of the company’s maturation. We’re talking about things like widespread retail availability and improved carrier support across the United States, not to mention a growing ecosystem of devices that includes Wireless headphonesAnd the smart watches and more.

There is, too Company partnership with Hasselblad To improve mobile photography, which for OnePlus consistently lags behind what you get on Apple, Samsung and Google phones. OnePlus has been improving the everyday durability of its phones in recent years thanks to IP68 dust and water resistance support — even if the company’s unlocked models don’t explicitly mention it in their specifications. And thanks to the Nord series, OnePlus has a larger selection of affordable devices than ever before.

OnePlus 10 Pro

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So has OnePlus finally turned its back on its old customers? Maybe and maybe not. It really depends on what you are looking for in a phone. There is no doubt that the company’s latest flagship devices are very different from what they are used to Back in 2014. Heck in the first few years but at the same time people’s preferences and expectations of what makes a good phone have changed a lot over the past eight years as well. In its quest for a global presence, OnePlus has left much of its past behind. And in its place, we left a global brand rated as The fourth largest smartphone maker on the planet (And that doesn’t even include Vivo), it’s too hungry to climb higher. So say goodbye to the old OnePlus and say hello to the rapidly expanding giant that replaced it.

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